by Amy Reiley
In 2012, boutique, American wine making will collide with pop culture—or, at least Disney-owned television. Yes, I’m talking about the phenomenon known as Ben the Bachelor. Until last year, Benjamin Flajnik was best known as the handsome, young partner in Envolve Winery (formerly Evolve Winery), a tiny operation founded in 2008 on youthful exuberance and passion.
A Sonoma, California native, Ben was best known as Mike Benziger’s wine making partner, (Mike being a son of one of Sonoma’s most successful wine families), until Flajnik, or “Ben F.,” made his primetime debut as a contestant on ABC’s The Bachelorette.
Though “Ben F.” failed to win the heart of the Bachelorette, he did succeed in capturing the attention of 20-something women across the nation and boosting Envolve’s wine sales beyond the partners’ wildest dreams. He also secured the role of the next ABC’s Bachelor.
We at EatSomethingSexy can’t help but wonder if the popularity of The Bachelor will turn Envolve into a flash in the pan. After all, the winery is one of Sonoma County’s newest, having hardly had a chance to develop a style or reputation before it reached international notoriety based solely on an owner’s glossy mane and pearly whites.
But here’s the thing about Envolve: it is a serious wine company that probably would have grown to great heights all on its own, if given the time to earn its reputation organically.
Reflecting the influence of the Benziger family and other Sonoma County agricultural leaders, Envolve tries to feature grapes that have been farmed as naturally as possible (preferably organically or biodynamically). This shows in the wines, which have been made to truly reflect vineyard and vintage.
Envolve’s current shining star is its Sauvignon Blanc, well priced at under $20. It comes from a rocky vineyard in Sonoma’s Valley of the Moon. Bright and racy with mouthwatering citrus notes, it’s a wine that makes it clear that both Benziger and Flajnik love Sauvignon Blanc. This wine and a fairly serious Cabernet Sauvignon were the styles that launched Envolve. Since then, the Envolve team has added a Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and soon-to-be-released Rose to the lineup.
Today, Envolve is uniquely positioned to be the winery that introduces time-honored traditions of boutique winemaking to the masses. Will its owners take this opportunity to introduce the young, virile and thirsty potential members of America’s wine drinking community to the art of well-crafted wine and the importance of responsible agriculture while they allow the wave of fame to wash over their wine community? Or will they take the easy road and sell out to the highest bidder interested in cashing in on the nouveau famous name? Perhaps they’ll cash in themselves, growing the company to hundreds of thousands of cases while every single woman in America still remembers Ben F.’s name. Whatever the outcome, we’ll just have to sit back and wait to find out. But in the meantime, I recommend ordering a case of Envolve to sip while watching weekly Bachelor installments. Enjoy it now because next year it might be too late!
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