2013 Alexander Valley Vineyards Alexander Valley Old Vine Zinfandel bottle

Excellent Old Vine Zinfandel: 2013 Alexander School Reserve ($28)

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.

Like many great Wine Adventures, my visit to AVV began with a “why not stop here?” moment while driving down Highway 128 from Healdsburg to Calistoga. The entrance driveway leads through vineyards and past the production facility to the visitor parking lot. The tasting room is scheduled for remodeling in January 2017, so I’ll write more about it after a return visit early next year. Thanks to tasting room host John for an excellent presentation of the tasting flight.

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 highest quality across the board, 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:

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%).

I highly recommend a stop at the Alexander Valley Vineyards tasting room during your next Wine Country Adventure.

Visit Alexander Valley Vineyards –  8644 Highway 128, Healdsburg, CA 95448

Alexander Valley AVA

Sonoma County California Viticultural Areas