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Family-owned vineyards produce some notable wines
By Rich Mauro - August 14, 2007

Living the wine-country lifestyle is a dream for many people, but relatively few actually make the dream come true.

Recently, I had an opportunity to join other journalists on a press trip to the wine country of Napa and Sonoma. The three Napa wineries and one Sonoma winery we visited all are family owned.

Each also was founded by individuals who came to the wine country after a successful career elsewhere.

For instance, Bennett Lane Winery's Randy Lynch owns a successful marketing company, as well as a NASCAR West team, which currently is the points leader on the western U.S. circuit...

Lynch and his wife, Lisa, developed an interest in wine while traveling in Italy. They began looking for a weekend house and vineyard, and eventually settled in the Napa Valley near Calistoga, Calif. They intended to sell the grapes, but when the former Vigil winery nearby became available four years ago, they decided to get into winemaking. ....

But wineries these days, as with any other business, don't survive without being innovative, contributing some sort of "value added." Although the quality of the wine is foremost, each of these wineries offers other attractions for visitors.

As soon as we walked into the Bennett Lane cellar, we noticed the bright yellow 2007 race car. Lynch explains he's convinced that NASCAR fans are ready for wine.

In addition to the typical tasting, the winery also offers a fun and educational opportunity for visitors, called the "Custom Blend Experience." For $175 per person, the package includes limousine service to and from the winery, a session that includes blending your wine, and filling, corking and labeling your bottle to take home, and finishes with a wine-andcheese pairing. ....

Still, it wouldn't matter much if the wines weren't any good. .. Bennett Lane winemaker Rob Hunter, who brings more than 20 years of experience to the job, said he seeks to achieve elegant wines that are also rich in flavor. ...

Recommended wines are listed below. Space limitations keep me from describing them in detail. Note that both wineries produce relatively small quantities, but Colorado is one of the few lucky states where they are shipped. They also are available online.


- 2006 Maximus White Feasting Wine (87 percent Sauvignon Blanc, 11 percent Chardonnay, 2 percent Muscat, $28)
- 2004 Maximus Red (51 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 29 percent Merlot, 20 percent Syrah, $35)
- 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon ($55)
- 2004 Primus Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon ($95)
- 2005 Primus Chardonnay

Welcome to Bennett Lane Winery  - Home of 36 90+ Point Wines from Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast and Robert Parker's Wine Advocate


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