Tasting Room Hours: 10am to 5pm daily.
Why go: Excellent Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Zinfandel.
Alexander Valley Vineyards is located in Sonoma County’s Alexander Valley AVA northeast of Healdsburg, where Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are the primary wine crops and several other varietals fit in just fine. Alexander Valley is named for Cyrus Alexander, an early Sonoma County settler who ran cattle and farmed in the area beginning in the mid 1840’s. The Wetzel family purchased the Alexander homestead in the 1960’s and began producing Alexander Valley Vineyards (AVV) wine from their estate vineyards in 1975.
As much as I like to write about destinations, and the Alexander Valley is certainly one of the prettier areas in Northern California Wine Country, what impressed me most about Alexander Valley Vineyards is the quality of their wine. The wines are excellent with affordable prices. A characteristic of many Sonoma County red wines is that they can be enjoyed young, but don’t age as long as wines from other California growing areas. For those of us who buy wine to drink in the short term, this is a blessing. Most of AVV’s 2013 vintage are either ready to drink or will approach their peak within the next few years.
Here are three of the wines I brought home on my last visit:
2015 Alexander Valley Chardonnay ($18) – Local Chardonnay with 1% Viognier. Apple, pear and floral notes with vanilla finish, 15% alcohol.
2013 Temptation Zinfandel ($12) – A very smooth Zin with black cherry, black pepper and moderate spice notes from a blend of Zinfandel 90%, Grenache 4%, Petite Sirah 5%, and Syrah 1%. 14.7% alcohol. An excellent everyday sipping wine at a bargain price.
2014 Alexander Valley Cabernet Franc ($28) – A smooth 100% Cabernet Franc with 14% alcohol. Plum, blackberry and chocolate with the vanilla and pepper spice that make Cab Franc interesting to sip.
AVV offers a full range of red wines, including those described above plus Pinot Noir, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and two blends: Homestead ($65, Merlot 44%, Zinfandel 34%, Grenache 8%, Mourvedre 6%, Cabernet Sauvignon 5% and Syrah 2%) and Cyrus ($65, Cabernet Sauvignon 76%, Merlot 12%, Cabernet Franc 7%, Petit Verdot 3% and Malbec 2%).