Ben Banks - WINEMAKER & graphic artist
Ben has been making wine since 2007 when his parents Terri and Paul Savaryn decided to plant the vineyards at Sovereign Estate. Starting out as a home winemaker, he soon learned commercial winemaking through direct instruction with French and American winemakers in the upper Midwest and the VESTA program. In 2012, he became the head winemaker at Sovereign Estate and has produced all of their vintages since then.
By giving special attention to the unique qualities of cold-climate varieties, Ben strives to produce world class wine that is true to the grape and land. His 2013 La Crescent, the first true vintage from the estate vinyards, won the International Cold Climate Wine Competition for Best Minnesota Wine, and he repeated this feat in 2019 with the 2017 Blue La Crescent. Other varieties have won gold and double gold medals in competitions around the country, notably for the estate grown vintages of Marquette Reserve and Frontenac Blanc Reserve.
Drawing on his experiences in the culinary world, the focus of his wine making style is to draw out the character of the variety of grape being used, with a special focus on fresh aromatics, expressive flavor, and clean finish. This is accomplished with both modern and traditional wine making methods, including fermenting and aging in both stainless steel and oak barrels. He prefers to do a few adjustments as needed with the wine to keep it from being over-processed, but will do every step necessary to make the wine the best it can be.
In addition to being the winemaker at Sovereign Estate, he is also the chief graphic artist and designs the labels for the wine. He is also the lead chef at the winery for the food & wine paring events. Prior to working at Sovereign Estate, he had worked as a photographer in Pittsburgh, Washington DC, and Minnesota, and has taken many of the photos seen on the website and at the winery.
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