On a recent trip out to California I got the opportunity to check out the operations at Alexander Valley Vineyards in Sonoma. The winery/estate is located just outside of Healdsburg, CA in the heart of the Alexander Valley. The Alexander Valley is named after Cyrus Alexander who settled the area in the 1840’s; his grave is on the Alexander Valley Vineyards property as it was the site of his original homestead. The Wetzel family purchased the property in 1962 and it was mostly pasture land with some prune orchards.
At first the family raised livestock on the property, but with close proximity to Napa Valley which was gaining international recognition, they decided to plant grapes. At first it was primarily Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Zinfandel. The family produced their first vintage of wine in 1975; a product of the eldest son Hank Wetzel. They soon became a leading name in the Alexander Valley and helped bring recognition to the appellation.
One of the iconic wines produced at AVV is the Sin Zin. In 1978 the family was selling of most of their Zinfandel grapes, as well as most of the estate grapes being that the family only made 4 wines at the time. The pickers would leave the unripe grapes on the vine and after a few weeks, they came good. Hank Wetzl decided to make wine from this secondary ripening group and share it with friends and family. Everyone seemed to really like the wine and through word of mouth, the wine was gaining a cult status. 1980 was the first vintage produced for sale and it was about 1000 cases. The wine has transformed to a more elegant style over the years from the original rustic homemade wine. The original labels were reintroduced in 2002 to stamp this iconic Alexander Valley Wine.
The estate today grows 14 different grape varieties from along the Russian River to the estate hillsides. Barrel fermentation and ageing take place in their 25000 square foot cave built into the hillside, where consistent temperature and humidity are ideal. (Between 63 to 58 degrees Fahrenheit) 2015 will be the wineries 40th anniversary and the 53rd year the Wetzl family has been on the property. They are known for their Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and of course Zinfandel. Here at West Vail Liquor Mart we carry the Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Estate Chardonnay and the Sin Zin. Come in and check out the pioneering Alexander Valley Winery’s wines!