It all started with a guy named Joe…

Joe Benziger

Winemaker, Joe Benziger

In the early 1980s the Benziger family migrated west from New York and started a winery on Sonoma Mountain. After a few years of helping his family make large production wines for their Glen Ellen brand, Joe decided that there were some vineyard lots that were just too good to get lost in a big blend. He set out to showcase these special vineyard sites in a series of small artisan wines.

As the idea for Imagery was developing, Joe had a chance meeting with renowned local artist Bob Nugent. The two actually helped break up a fist fight at polo match of all places. After the theatrics died down Joe and Bob had a drink and got to know each other. Bob volunteered to design a label for Joe’s pet project, something that could match the expressiveness and originality of the wine inside. Now, more than 20 years later, Nugent still serves as curator of the Imagery art collection, commissioning hundreds of international artists to design one-of-a-kind artwork for Imagery labels. As Imagery evolved under Joe’s direction, the emphasis on limited-production wines evolved to focus on lesser-known varietals. As he discovered rare wines, Joe became passionate about unusual grapes and the Barbera  within was unleashed.

“I got so jazzed up over these wines, for months after I made my first Barbera everyone at the winery was calling me Joey Barbera.”
– Joe Benziger

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