Wine of the week: Pennyroyal Farm, 2020 Anderson Valley Pinotrio
Sarah Cahn Bennett grew up a stone’s throw from Navarro Vineyards & Winery in Philo.
“I was the kid who would try to get my homework done as quickly as possible after school so I could spend time on the crush pad,” she said.
The daughter of Navarro founders Ted Bennett and Deborah Cahn, the 41-year-old winemaker now splits her time between working at Navarro and her own enterprise, Pennyroyal Farm, 9 miles away in Boonville.
Cahn Bennett is behind The Press Democrat’s wine of the week winner — the Pennyroyal Farm 2020 Anderson Valley Pinotrio at $33. The white varietal is a blend of pinot gris, pinot noir and pinot blanc, and it’s nice and dry. With aromas and flavors of peach, almond and hint of nectarine, the pinotrio has great minerality, and it finishes crisp.
Pennyroyal Farm is both a winery and a creamery, and it’s named after the wild mint that thrives in the vineyards. Goats and sheep roam through the vines and the farm offers a line-up of wines and seasonal cheeses. The farm is designed to maximize the symbiotic relationships of diversified crops and animal husbandry. The synergy of dairy farming and wine growing, Cahn Bennett said, is essential for the long-term health of the farmland.
Dedicated to environmentally conscious farming practices, the farm features solar panels on the barn and has calculated the size of its herd to produce enough manure to fertilize the vineyards.
Developed in stages, the creamery was completed in 2012 while the tasting room opened its doors in 2016.
Cahn Bennett, both winemaker and general manager, said the most challenging part of making pinotrio is calculating the blend of pinot gris, pinot noir and pinot blanc.
“It’s hard to figure out what direction to go,” she said. “I have tended to make the wine with a little more pinot blanc because I think the acidity, freshness and almond-like aromas really pair well with our cheeses.”
Cahn Bennett said she takes pride in Mendocino County’s environmentally progressive farming practices. In her 20s when traveling to France, she realized others were equally impressed with the county’s efforts.
“I remember a world renowned winemaker in Burgundy recognizing Mendocino for its commitment to sustainable farming and non-GMO stance,” she said. “That was an eye opener to see that even some of the world’s most famous winemakers took note of green initiatives, and that Mendocino had a reputation halfway across the world.”
Cahn Bennett, who also serves as general manager of Navarro, said the Philo winery was on the cutting edge with its farming practices.
“My parents stopped using synthetic herbicides back in 1979 and any synthetic insecticides in 1980,” she explained. “The regenerative farming practices they were using in the 80s were way before their time. It’s great to further develop our practices and take them to the next level, to not only make great wines but to do something positive for the planet.”
Wine writer Peg Melnik can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 707-521-5310.
Wine, The Press Democrat
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