Jamie Benziger

Jamie Benziger

Imagery Estate Winery (Winemaker)

Jamie Benziger grew up in a family defined by wine. Her father, Joe, made his way to the Sonoma Valley in the early 1980s and founded Imagery Estate Winery in 1986. Jamie has now succeeded him as the winemaker there, but the path she took to achieve this role is somewhat unusual.

She first enrolled at Loyola Marymount University, an institution not known to produce winemakers. However, spending summers staffing the concierge booth at Benziger Family Winery in Glen Ellen made her appreciate the legacy her family had established in the wine industry and prompted her to transfer to Sonoma State University. There, Jamie earned a degree in B.A. in Business Administration, specializing in Marketing and Wine Business.

Following graduation, she interned at several Sonoma wineries, adding depth and breadth to her knowledge of winemaking. Her father drew her into the production side of the wine business and served as an invaluable mentor for her. The drive and passion that members of her family had for the winery convinced her to keep the family business going strong, and she’s been successful in meeting that goal.

At Imagery, Jamie is responsible for crafting some 35 different wines, including Petit Sirah, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, Barbera, and Malbec, among others. In 2017, she launched a new tier of wines intended to broaden consumers’ palates with unique blends of varietals, such as a blend comprising Sauvignon Blanc and 20% Muscat, and one that combines Pinot Noir with 10% Petit Verdot. In recognition of her winemaking talents, she was named the 2019 Best Woman Winemaker in the International Women’s Wine Competition. She has also been recognized by being on the 2019 Wine Enthusiast’s list of 40 Under 40 Tastemakers and the 2020 North Bay Business Journal’s Forty Under 40 list.

Her advice to women wishing to break into the wine industry is encompassed by the following quote: “In the wine world, it is important to always work hard and keep driven, especially as a woman. Everyone who has made a name for themselves in this industry has had to prove himself or herself at one point or another, and anyone who enters into it must do the same. Even though I came from a well-known wine family, it was very important for me when not only working outside the family winery, but working at the family winery that my elders, coworkers, peers, and family felt like I deserved any position I held and that I was the best person for that job. I did not want anything handed to me. It was essential that I worked hard and earned it.”