The Estate

Tucked at the base of the Stags Leap Palisades, Bench Vineyards was inspired by our unique geography. Surrounded by a ring of hills and mountains, our unique orography in the Stags Leap District defines our wines and our famed appellation. Orographic influences are climatic influences, it is where the ground meets the air. Taking in my experiences growing up in the vineyards of Stag Leap, working the crush pad and learning alongside my father, today we craft wines to share that story.

The People

Bench Vineyards is decades in the making, combining some of the most distinctive vineyards in Stags Leap with the most distinguished and dynamic individuals in the Napa Valley. Viticulturist Jim Barbour, winemakers Mike Smith and Bob Pepi, alongside founders Allison Steltzner and Sam Sharp. We walk these legendary vineyards with one goal, to hand craft vibrant terroir driven wines.

“The Heron is recognized in cultures throughout
the ages as a symbol of strength, purity, patience,
and long life. We craft wines in the same spirit.” ALLISON STELTZNER & SAM SHARP, FOUNDERS
Steltzner & Sam Sharp, Founders
Allison was born and raised in the vineyards of Stags Leap, deeply connected to the people, land and lifecycle here in the Napa Valley. Sam was born and raised in New York City, surrounded by artists, musicians, and a culture of wine cultivated from his family's time spent in Europe and in the museum culture of New York. The girl from wine country and the boy from the big city met in Napa, married and started a family, while pursuing careers in the wine industry. In the back of their minds always lingered the thought to one day make a little wine from the historic Steltzner Vineyards property owned by Allison's family. Bench Vineyards is a love letter to Stags Leap, and to the Napa Valley, and the energy that wine brings to everyday life. We continue to write this love letter every season by hand crafting wines that honor the vineyard and appellations history yet strive to define its future.
Jim Barbour, Viticulturalist
Jim has been a part of the fabric of Napa Valley since a young age, raised on a ranch here in the valley. He has been integral in shaping the transition here in Napa from growing apples, walnuts and raising cattle to the vineyards you see today. He continues to make his mark, collaborating with top winemakers to select, develop and farm Napa Valleys most coveted vineyard sites.
Mike Smith, Winemaker
Purist, perfectionist, quiet observer, focused, humble and frankly an amazing person, that is Mike Smith. To top that off he crafts exceptional wines. Mike came to Napa eager to learn in 2004, working harvest for free, sleeping on Thomas Brown's couch. The hard work and dedication paid off. A master of his craft, Mike continues to create the most dynamic, pure, vibrant and celebrated wines coming from Napa Valley today, with a focus on single vineyard terroir driven wines.
Bob Pepi, Winemaker
Genuine, intuitive, gracious and dedicated to the entire process from vine to bottle. 58 harvests in two hemispheres, a master taster, hands on in the cellar, and a part of Napa Valleys history. Bob found himself in Napa Valley working alongside his father establishing their winery in the early 1980's. Experiencing a variety of vineyards around the Valley his insight, history, knowledge and experience leads our efforts to connect the vineyards to the winery resulting in crafting truly exceptional wines.
Elizabeth Robertis, Director of Sales and Marketing
A Napa Valley native, Elizabeth’s early exposure to Napa terroir began as a young girl, exploring the hillside vineyards that her Father farmed on Spring Mountain and Mount Veeder. Elizabeth has played a key role in Marketing, Hospitality, Communication and Sales during her many years working at some top Napa Valley wineries. Elizabeth’s passion is sharing the story of the wines and winemaking of this special Valley we call home.