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Winery Cofounded by 'Bachelor' Star Purchased by Canadian Wine Family

The owners of Lake Sonoma and Valley of the Moon expand their California presence with Envolve

Augustus Weed
Posted: January 5, 2016

Envolve, the Sonoma County wine brand founded by The Bachelor star Ben Flajnik and members of the Benziger family, has been sold to the Stewart family, Canadian winemakers who also own Sonoma's Madrone Estate Winery, Lake Sonoma Winery and Valley of the Moon, as well as Napa brand Plume. The sales price was not disclosed.

"While this means Envolve will change hands, we are confident the Stewart family will continue the brand mission of bringing high-quality varietals into the marketplace and encourage enthusiasts to 'get envolved' by helping support local charities," said Kate Benziger in a statement.

Envolve was a collaboration between Mike Benziger and Flajnik. The boyhood friends were sharing an apartment in San Francisco in 2008 when they decided to start their own label, originally called Evolve. The winery focuses on organic and biodynamic wines, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc, sourced mainly from Sonoma Valley and Russian River Valley vineyards.

The young brand received international attention when Flajnik appeared on the reality show The Bachelorette and then starred on The Bachelor. But in 2014 he left his position as winemaker to pursue new projects. Leadership shifted to Mike and his sister Kate, who partnered the brand with charities in honor of their brother Chris, who has cerebral palsy.

Flajnik told Wine Spectator that the partners sold the winery because, “Ultimately it had run its course, and people wanted to do things individually.” He said the winery was a wonderful jumping off point for four people who were new to the wine business. “We left our little mark in Sonoma and made people happy.”

This is the latest Sonoma move for the Stewart family, which bought Lake Sonoma and Valley of the Moon from Korbel in 2012. "The idea is to expand in the U.S. and to seek out premium operations and brands," said Lake Sonoma president Tyler Galts. The Stewarts have been growing grapes in their native home of British Columbia for more than 50 years. In 1989 they established Quail Gate winery and now farm nearly 180 acres of grapes in the Okanagan Valley.

“We want to maintain the community outreach program—that was one of the main things that attracted us to the brand,” said CEO Tony Stewart. He says the Envolve wines will fall into a tier with their Lake Sonoma brand—that label's winemaker, Kat Adams, will take over production.

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