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Sonoma Valley Vintner Helen Benziger Dies


Daniel Sogg
Posted: May 17, 2000

Helen Williamson Benziger, matriarch of Sonoma County's Benziger winemaking family, died of cancer on Tuesday morning at her Glen Ellen home. She was 73.

In 1981, Helen moved from New York with her husband, Bruno, and their children to the town of Glen Ellen, in California's Sonoma Valley. They started a winery, developing the low-priced Glen Ellen and M.G. Vallejo brands, which they sold to Heublein in 1993.

They also built the Benziger Family Winery, which currently produces 180,000 cases a year of Sonoma and other California wines.

Helen is survived by seven children, Christopher, Gerard, Michael, Joseph, Katherine, Patsy and Robert, and 14 grandchildren.

Funeral services will be held at 10:30 a.m. on May 19 at St. Leo's Roman Catholic Church in Agua Caliente, Calif. A visitation will be held there on May 18 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that contributions be made to the Valley of the Moon Hospice, the Becoming Independent nonprofit organization or the Boys' and Girls' Club of Sonoma Valley.

-- Daniel Sogg

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