It’s mind-boggling to imagine what the ex-fur trapper Cyrus Alexander might have seen when he managed a stock cattle ranch operation on Rancho Sotoyome in the 1840’s. The pristine 48,000 acres, part of a Mexican Land Grant, spanned as far as the eye could see, extending to the Russian River and through the present day town of Healdsburg. Years later, the valley would later be named in honor of Alexander who reportedly said, “it was the best and brightest spot in the world.” Cyrus Alexander Bio
To the casual wine day-tripper, time appears to have stood still in the sleepy remote valley. The winding country roads meander aimlessly, dotted with small farms and vineyards at every turn.
A great way to experience the back roads of Alexander Valley is from The Wine Carriage, a half day guided horse carriage ride through the vineyards. The Wine Carriage provides an up close and personal view literally between the vines starting at Alexander Valley Winery and ending with the estate’s wine caves. Owner and tour guide extraordinaire, Bret LeRolland, is an animated story-teller, bringing the colorful history of Alexander Valley alive.
Late summer or early fall is an optimal time to see fruit hanging on the vines and to smell the sweetness of the ripening grapes in the air. Cabernet Sauvignon is the signature grape varietal, although Zinfandel, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc are abundantly grown as well.
Soda Rock Winery is an eclectic facade of Old West store front buildings with a tasting room worthy of a stop. With a focus on Bordeaux varietals, Soda Rock Winery produces Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petite Verdot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Primitivo, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier. There are picnic grounds and plenty of photo ops here as well.
Hanna Winery is a welcome retreat with panoramic views of the valley and a wide array of wine flights. Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot and Petit Verdot hail from the single estate vineyards in Alexander Valley while the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are Russian River Valley grown. Their sister winery is off Occidental Road in Santa Rosa.
Another beautiful vantage point is at Foley Sonoma Winery previously known as Stryker Sonoma Winery, where the wines are unsurpassed by the views. Bordeaux varietals Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot are king here along with Old Vine Zinfandel that will knock your socks off.
A little further down Highway 128 is the Field Stone Winery which houses a small subterranean cellar for their Bordeaux inspired wines. The tasting room is very understated but the award-winning wines speak volumes. Sip and savor the estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, Old Vine Petite Sirah, and small lots of Sangiovese, Syrah, Viognier, Chardonnay, Rosé of Sangiovese and Vintage Port.
For a more refined guided wine tasting, Jordan Winery is one of the finest spots in Alexander Valley. By appointment only, guests are invited for a private tour of the winery, the grounds and a special seated wine and food pairing. By far, this is one of Sonoma Wine Country’s best wine experience!
With over 30 wineries, there’s a lot more to discover in Alexander Valley ~ until our paths cross again… Cheers!