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Brian Benson Cellars

Paso Robles AVA

An ultra-premium wine label nestled in the Paso Robles AVA

Not many winery owners or winemakers can claim to have made their first Cabernet Sauvignon before the age of 13, but Brian Benson most certainly can. While there were only two bottles made, the experience and the fact that his dad enjoyed the wine was enough to propel Brian Benson into the wine business.

To explain further, Brian Benson comes from a wine related family. His grandfather, John Chavez, planted vineyards in the late 1980’s and his father, Norm Benson, followed suit with his own vineyards and winery several years later (he established Dark Star Cellars in 1994 and just recently started Level 3 Wines). Brian grew up spending time in his family’s vineyards and had started learning about the winemaking process and business before he was out of elementary school. As a teenager, he worked part time on the weekends learning the ins and outs of the business and in 2000, at the age of eighteen, he became the full time assistant winemaker for his father’s winery, Dark Star. Even though Brian was born and raised in Thousand Oaks, CA, most of his family’s (and his own) wine related activities took place around the Paso Robles region of the Central Coast.

In 2001, at the age of nineteen, Brian Benson made the decision to make his own wines and Brian Benson Cellars took life as a small commercial winery. The first release occurred two years later with a tiny 147 cases. Today, that number has only grown to around 1,500 cases, a number that Brian has no intention of growing further. “I can control my own destiny at this level and that is incredibly important to me. I focus on finding unique growing sites in Paso Robles where the fruit can be farmed to its true potential. I don’t do a great deal after pressing and prefer to let the grapes tell their own story,” Brian recently explained.

Along the way, Brian became a huge fan of Rhône varietals and decided to focus exclusively on those wine styles for Brian Benson Cellars. He has worked with several important vineyard locations in Paso Robles and continues to seek out exciting new properties for his collection of single varietal and Rhône-style blend wines.

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Dear Platinum Wine Club Members,

Picture of Dear <i>Platinum Wine Club</i> Members,

I’m excited to share with you my 2013 S&M from the Caliza Vineyard. 2013 was a whirlwind of a vintage, but one of the best we had seen in several years...We had 80% of our block’s ripen within 8 days of each other, and we processed more fruit in those 8 days then we did in all of 2012. While I didn’t get much sleep during those 8 days, we were able to co-ferment almost everything I normally blend.

Now, a little bit about myself...
I founded my winery in 2001 at the ripe age of 19, releasing my first vintage the weekend after I turned 21. My goal was to focus on Rhône varietals from unique sites across the Paso Robles AVA. I got into the business hanging out at my Grandparent’s vineyard in Paso, and later my father’s winery. I started to learn about winemaking before I was out of elementary school, and made my first wine when I was 13. I made my wine at several different wineries around Paso before moving operations to Tin City in 2015. I run the winery with my wife Christina, and our 18-month-old son, Brayden. We have no other employees...for better or for worse.

The wine you are about to try is 78% Syrah, co-fermented (fermented in the same tank) with 22% Mourvèdre. I kind of geek out on tech notes for my wines, so I thought I would share them with you. Like life, everything that happens molds you into who you are. Wine is no different. I feel the journey is an important part.

Here’s some wine geeky info...
2013 S&M – The Caliza Vineyard is made up of 2 separate fermentations. One picked 9/12/13 and the other 9/18/13. It is a co-ferment of roughly 78% Syrah & 22% Mourvèdre. One with Clone 877 & Estrella, and the second Clone 470 & 383. 15% was left whole cluster with an additional 30% dried stems added after the ferment began. The average time on the skins was 28 days, and then it was then aged in 300L French oak barrels for 22 months. Bottled unfiltered and unfined.

I hope you thoroughly enjoy my efforts. The S&M blends from Caliza are always my favorite. Big but elegant, just how I like them.


Brian Benson