Ben Flajnik in Ann Arbor: I'm done with 'The Bachelor' franchise
Angela J. Cesere | AnnArbor.com
But don’t ask him about the show. He’s here to talk wine.
“Honestly, I just write it on a piece of paper, normally, if it’s a ‘Bachelor’-heavy crowd,” Flajnik said. “I just write, ‘No. 1: Yes, I’m still with Courtney (Robertson). No. 2: No, I’m not watching the show. And No. 3: No, there’s no wedding date set.’ And I just slap it on the end of the table, and that’s the end of their questions. Then we can move on.”
Flajnik, a winemaker from Sonoma, Calif., is touring Michigan this month with his business partner and close friend since sixth grade, Mike Benziger. The two have been promoting Envolve Winery, which they started in 2008, and their newest brand of wine, Epilogue, which runs about $15 per bottle. Their higher-end brand, Envolve, runs between $20 and $40 per bottle.
Flajnik and Benziger visited the mitten state in late February and were pleased with the results of the mini-tour. This summer’s trip has included stops in Petoskey, Traverse City, Grand Rapids and Howell. They are headed to Birmingham and Detroit next, Benziger said.
“You guys drink a lot of wine here in Michigan, and we like that. So as long as you keep drinking wine, we’re going to keep coming back,” Benziger said, adding Michigan is one of Envolve’s top 10 states as far as sales.
He said his friend’s appearance on “The Bachelor” has not helped their business as much as people might like to think.
“It definitely has broadened our reach to other consumers, but we have always had a cult following. Our wines are very well made and very well stored,” he said.
“And we like to maintain that standard, too,” Flajnik interjected. “We don’t just whore ourselves out because I was on a national television show. That’s not what we’re about.”
Benziger said: “We wouldn’t be here putting our names on the bottles if the wine wasn’t good.”
The duo brought with them five Envolve wine varieties for people to taste and hosted two bottle signings, one at Kroger on South Maple Road and another at the Meijer on Jackson Road, Thursday afternoon.
In 2008, Flajnik and Benziger started their wine business with about 350 cases. Four years later, they are up to about 20,000 cases between both brands, Benziger said.
“We want people to understand how we make our wines, what we do with our wines and why we do it, essentially,” Flajnik said.
The duo does not own vineyard property in Sonoma, but rather signs long-term leases with growers. They have a facility in Glen Ellen, Calif., and are in the process of opening a tasting room on the square in Sonoma.
The intricacies of wine country in the Sonoma Valley were played out on “The Bachelor” when Flajnik took the women on the show to Sonoma for a series of dates. The show’s premise is about finding love for one eligible man. The pre-selected bachelor starts with 25 women and narrows it down to one to be his future wife.
Flajnik, 29, selected Courtney Robertson, a model from Scottsdale, Ariz., who was perceived as the villain by the other members of the cast.
Flajnik said he was not aware that the other women (runner-up Lindzi Cox, Blakely Jones, Jamie Otis, Jaclyn Swartz and Rachel Trueheart) would be participating in “Bachelor Pad,” which premieres July 23.
“They asked me to do it, I said not in a million years,” Flajnik said Thursday in Ann Arbor. “I wish them (the women) nothing but the best. I’m done with the 'Bachelor' franchise.”
Angela J. Cesere | AnnArbor.com