NEXT UP: We welcome wine country’s modern Cain & Abel (minus the messy homicide party ;)) - Benoit Touquette (Realm, Fait-Main, Familiar Air) and Tony Biagi (Hourglass, Patria). When we think of Sunday School worthy dynamic duos the list pretty much goes Jesus & Judas, Jacob & Esau, and Benoit & Tony. Between these two we’re looking at about 3 decades of winemaking experience in some of Napa’s best churches wineries. And while those experiences will certainly color our discussion, the focus will be on each of their side hustles. So join us for a rare performance of Benny & the Bear for an hour and a half of what will surely be a combination of laughs & discussion as well as a taste of each of their hustles & the wines that have inspired those side pieces.
Born in Lyon, FR Benoit found his calling at the University of Bordeaux before jumping the pond with help from his mentor Michel Rolland to make wine in the beautiful Napa Valley. Upon arriving in the promised land, Benny started consulting on small projects like Screaming Eagle, Arietta and Ovid before taking the stage as head winemaker at Realm Cellars. These experiences and his steady position at Realm have since allowed him to develop a variety of side hustles. In addition to Realm, Benoit is responsible for Hartwell, Kata and three of his own projects - Familiar Air, Fait-Main & Teeter Totter. As if that didn’t keep him busy enough, in all his down time Benoit can be found in his natural habitat (aka Napa’s finest restaurants) sipping Selosse.
A sixth generation Californian, Tony might as well have been born with a wine bottle at his side. Growing up, Tony’s dad made a small amount of wine in their garage and when it came time to head to college the “bear’s” mind was made up - it had to be U.C. Davis for Fermentation Sciences. The rest is the stuff of Napa Valley legend…Upon graduating Tony became the talent behind heavy hitters like Neal Family Vineyards, Duckhorn, CADE, Paraduxx and Plumpjack - to name just a few. After a decade of making the rounds, Tony settled into his current home at Hourglass as head winemaker in 2012. With a steady gig nailed down it was time for Tony to do what he had always wanted to - start his own project. In 2013 Patria (the bear we’ve been referring to all along) was born. Sourced 100% from Oakville Ranch, Tony’s two labels under Patria - the flagship and Avoyelles - provide drinkers with a quintessential Napa Valley drinking experience. When he’s not bouncing between the two projects Tony can be found with a bottle of 1997 Etude at PRESS’s bar (at least you could have found him there before he drank PRESS’s entire inventory of the ’97;)).