SOS Children’s Villages Illinois joined friends and corporate partners for “Vines to Villages” on September 19, 2019. Hosted by Snaidero at 210 Design House, a stunning luxury kitchen cabinet showroom in River North, Vines to Villages invited the evening’s guests to learn more about SOS Children’s Villages Illinois, and enjoy an exclusive reception and premier wine showing from Chris Benziger of Benziger Family Winery, California.
Paired with artfully crafted dishes by Chef Tony Priolo of Piccolo Sogno, the premier showing included a rare opportunity to be among the first to try three wines from the Benziger Family 2017 reserve collection: a 2017 Los Carneros Chardonnay, a 2017 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, and a 2017 Sonoma Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.
Setting the Table for Record-Breaking Success
This evening, focused on “setting the table” for this spring’s Dining and Conversation, offered guests the unique opportunity to hear not only about these specific wines, but also about the delicate winemaking process that Benziger Family Winery has established as their world-renowned practice. According to Benziger Family Winery,
These practices, which meticulously marry global sustainability with quality of product, are reminiscent of the care that our youth practice each season in our community gardens across our Villages. Like Benziger Family Winery, our community and SOS Illinois volunteers delicately steward our gardens so as to not only bring about the freshest crops, but to create a positive, lasting impact on our natural world.
The reception’s attendees included key supporters of SOS Illinois, Board members, longtime partners, and the 2019 Dining & Conversation Sponsor, Sodexo. Through warm conversation, the gathering shared its excitement for the signature spring gala, and took time to reconnect with those who they have not seen since the previous Dining & Conversation held in May 2019.
Chris Benziger and Benziger Family Winery, California
Chris Benziger shared that Benziger Family wines have character and conscience, meaning, they’re not only great in the glass, they’re grown in a way that’s good for the environment, too.
Every wine in the Benziger Family Winery portfolio – from the family line to Signaterra to Tribute to de Coelo – carries a third party certification of green farming practices. Whether the vineyard is certified sustainable, organic or Biodynamic, it’s carefully tended with the most eco-responsible methods available. The family’s commitment to organically grown grapes both cares for the land and is the best way to make distinctive, authentic wines.
Certified Biodynamic – All four of the estate vineyards are Demeter-certified Biodynamic. Biodynamics is the highest level of organic farming. Developed in the 1920’s, Biodynamics views the vineyard as a single organism. With this approach, eliminating synthetic chemicals is just the beginning. Biodynamics goes further, encouraging biodiversity, a closed nutrient system, the use of homeopathic teas and a close personal connection to the land. We began transitioning our home ranch on Sonoma Mountain in the mid-nineties. Since then, Benziger Family Winery has used its experiences and insight to mentor its own network of growers and anyone else interested in farming this way.
Instead of bagged fertilizer, weed killer and pesticides, the winery relies on composting, natural predator-prey relationships, cover crops, and the animals that live on the estate, to keep the vineyard healthy and balanced. There is no silver bullet in Biodynamic winegrowing. When artificial crutches are eliminated, growers must learn to trust their instincts and to trust nature’s ability and capacity to make a great wine.
Today, the Benziger Family Winery is one of a handful of Demeter-certified Biodynamic vineyards in North America. The property is located in a distinct area – an extinct volcano caldera resembling a 360-degree bowl that sits in a valley 800 feet above sea level. Formed from volcanic explosions that occurred millions of years ago, the winery land is ideal for winegrowing and boasts a variety of different sun exposures, elevations, soil profiles and drainage. Through Biodynamic farming, the best of what the land possesses is reflected in the characteristics of every bottle.
Vintage 2017 Wines
Chris Benziger shared with the group that the 2017 growing season was one for the record book. During the winter and spring the winery saw the most rain that it had in over twenty years (75 inches), frost, hail, and strong winds. After the wet start the vines developed a rapid growth, which was tamed by letting the grass grow in the rows to compete with the vines. During the summer there were four heat waves before the berries fully changed color. To prevent burning, the Benziger family did not pull leaves around the fruit like normal practice. The clusters were shaded from the intense heat. Also, the family did not pick fruit during the heat spells. This allowed the vines to recover and refresh before harvesting. The vintage finished late, but overall the wines are fruit forward with bright acid.
Dining & Conversation
On May 1, 2019, the stars came out once again in support of SOS Children’s Villages Illinois. Serving as the launch of Foster Care Awareness Month (honored each May), as well as the #Voices4FosterCare campaign, Dining & Conversation offered the opportunity to dine alongside key supporters and friends in civics, business, entertainment, and more, gathered together in support of the children and families served by SOS Illinois.
At Dining & Conversation, 140 supporters met and conversed with Luminaries, well-known celebrities from various professional fields. Luminaries included longtime SOS Illinois supporter and Academy Award winning actor, Christian Bale; Academy Award Winning director and screenwriter, Adam McKay; Best Selling author, Gillian Flynn; television and film actor, David Eigenberg; and many more.
The well-crafted meal, led by Chef Tony Priolo of Piccolo Sogno, consisted of courses prepared by Celebrity Chefs from Chicago’s most well-respected restaurants. Luminaries shared a course at each table, rotating throughout the evening, so as to dine and converse with all guests in attendance. As the event progressed, each guest had the opportunity to talk with all the Luminaries.
Gratitude for Sodexo, Dining & Conversation 2020 Sponsor
The success of Dining & Conversation 2019 was only made possible due to the generous support and friendship of Sodexo. Sodexo, a worldwide leading provider of integrated food, facilities management, and other services that enhance organizational performance and improve quality of life, centers its mission on corporate responsibility and sustainability.
We are grateful for Sodexo’s ongoing support, as presenting sponsor for Dining & Conversation 2020. Interested in sponsoring Dining & Conversation 2020, please contact Amy Kaczmarek at email@example.com.
Gratitude for Supporting Vines to Villages
We are immensely grateful for the enthusiasm and kindness of Chris Benziger of Benziger Family Winery; SOS Illinois Board Member, Rama Dandamudi, and his teams at Snaidero and 210 Design House; Chef Tony Priolo; Southern Glazer’s Wine and Spirits; The Wine Group; and Sodexo. With your leadership and support, we are empowered to continue building the future of foster care.