About Benjamin Silver
Who would have guessed that a kid from Amherst, Massachusetts, with a Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Sciences (Pre-Veterinary) and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Italian from the University of Massachusetts, would end up in Santa Barbara County as an up-and-coming winemaker? Benjamin Silver did just that after catching the wine bug in 1993 at a summer job at Chicama Vineyards on Martha’s Vineyard.
After graduating from college in 1994, Benjamin used his science background to land a harvest intern Lab Technician position with winemaker Daniel Gehrs at Zaca Mesa Winery in Santa Barbara County. After harvest, the winery offered him a full-time position as the winemaker's assistant. “Dan took me under his wing as an apprentice winemaker and nurtured my passion for viticulture and winemaking” explained Benjamin. Upon Gehrs’ departure in 1998, Benjamin took over Zaca Mesa’s winemaking helm.
Starting in 1996, Benjamin began to experiment with small quantities of Zinfandel, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Franc, and Nebbiolo. This experimentation laid the foundation for the eventual formation of his Silver label. He left Zaca Mesa in August 2000 to launch his own label, while also taking over the winemaking program & vineyard re-development for the owner of White Hawk Vineyard.
Since 2007, he has produced his wines on Santa Barbara's Eastside in an urban winery setting. In 2018, Silver Wines opened a tasting room in the historic El Paseo, in downtown Santa Barbara. Silver Wines currently produces old vine Chenin Blanc, Pinot Noir vin gris, 100% stem inclusion Pinot Noir. Large format aged 100% Nebbiolo and 100% Sangiovese. Cabernet Franc, Syrah, and complex one-time blends including a tawny styled dessert wine. All grapes are sourced from Santa Barbara County vineyards, many of which are 35-40 years old.
Benjamin states, "Now in the 2020's, as Santa Barbara County's vineyards mature, there's more refinement in varietal character & balance in the vines, yielding complex wines. Fruit ripens slowly but thoroughly. Growers are more confident planting or grafting a wider range of varietals. Consumers are more open minded, their palates more experienced, supporting our production of these different varietals as well as unique non-traditional blends. My passion & therefore drive, is to set a benchmark for Sangiovese & Nebbiolo in the new world. Santa Barbara County is the place to do it."