Honig means "honey", and the name fits. Elaine Honig has a natural
ease about her. She is smart and as straight-forward and down to earth
as the substance itself. I had a sense as she walked in the room that
I would really like this woman... and I was right.
The Honig property is in Rutherford. As a matter of fact, it used
to be a part of the Caymus estate, dating back to the turn of the
century. It was bought in the 60s by Louis Honig, the familys
grandfather. He planted grapes in hopes of retiring to the life of
a farmer, making some wine and enjoying his land.
he died before his dream was realized. The family decided to make
a little bit of wine in his honor instead of selling the grapes to
other valley winemakers. They made 500 cases of Sauvignon Blanc their
first year. They also won a Gold Medal at their first competition
and were inspired to make more. Louis must have been smiling from
The year was 1984 when grandson, Michael Honig graduated from college.
The family winery was making wine, but it really needed someone to
run the winery as a business and sell the wine. Michael, at 22 years
old, took on the task, driving the wine from restaurant to restaurant,
store to store, in the back of his Subaru, while handling all his
accounting from written invoices stuffed inside a shoe box.
It was around this time that Elaine met Michael at a Thanksgiving
dinner in 1986. Once she and Michael began to date seriously, he asked
her to come on board. The first thing I did was hire a delivery
company!, says Elaine. She gave the Subaru a break and the winery
quickly grew from 500 to approximately 40,000 cases -- almost all
Sauvignon Blanc and Reserve Sauvignon Blanc.
Elaine recounted the slow evolution from tractor barn to Honig winery.
Michael and I got it up and rolling. The family didnt
pay attention for 5 to 10 years and then one day looked up and said,
'Holy cow! You havent asked us for money, so that is a good
sign, and now you are starting to make money, and there is a building
where the tractor used to be. This is cool!' It didnt mean they
wanted to get involved but we started getting some good feedback."
She laughed out loud at the memory and paused. Although she and Michael
are now separated, they both still work together, continuing to make
Honig a success with Michaels brother Steven Honig and his wife,
Honig is an organic farming winery. They do not put it on the label,
but you can be guaranteed that the wine you drink from them was never
sprayed with chemicals. Not using chemcials requires you to
be very proactive, but it wasnt hard and it wasnt expensive.
We do it entirely just because we feel like we should. It is right
for the land and why do it the other way?
For Elaine, the fun part is doing all of this with an authentic fervor
for life and nature and showing people that wine is fun not intimidating.
Who else decides to sell Sauvignon Blanc through a postcard with staffmembers
dressed as mermaids!
Elaine has many interests --from "dog yenta" (finding 15
dogs homes this year alone) to winery owner and creative director,
to political activist and friend to her staff. And yet they are all
unified for her under one motto: "Live life authetically. Be
good to other people. Be good to yourself. Dont be a part of
the problem, be a part of the solution." From what I can tell,
she seems to do just that.