Alexander Valley Vineyards Review
Address: 8644 Highway 128 Healdsburg,California 95448.
Phone Number: 707-433-7209
Tasting Hours: 10:00-5:00
Region: Sonoma County, Alexander Valley AVA, California
Reviewer: Becky Parr
Review Date: 5/27/2013
Reviewer: Becky Parr
Cyrus Alexander, one of Sonoma Countys early settlers in the 1840s, lent his name to a geographical region approximately one hour north of San Francisco and to Alexander Valley Vineyards, the winery situated on the lands that include Cyrus Alexanders original homestead.
The Place:  Alexander Valleys facilities are both beautiful and functional. The tasting room is centrally located within the grounds, and as you approach the winery you see barrels near the parking area, perhaps accompanied by a fork lift and/or winery employee. I was particularly intrigued by the caves, used for barrel storage. The doors to the wine cave literally open into the side of a hill, and lines of barrels are visible inside the doors. While inside the tasting room, I mentioned being impressed by the wine cave, and the tasting room employee called it just a little bit of space, only 25,000 square feet. Only! (Sarcasm mode was definitely on.) I also learned that the wine cave naturally stays between 58 and 62 degrees, making it an ideal environment for aging wine while contributing to Alexander Valley Vineyards commitment to sustainability.
The People: We visited AVV on Memorial Day; predictably, it was a popular day to go wine tasting. Unfortunately, there were only two or three employees working in the tasting room. Nance took care of us; she has an excellent sense of humor, knows a lot about the Alexander Valley Vineyards wines, and chooses excellent music to play in the tasting room. (At least, she gave us the impression that the music choices were hers!)
I only had one issue with the service, and that was that I felt a bit rushed. Im usually not in a big hurry when I do a tasting, particularly since Ive learned that the second sip is better than the first and the third is better than the second. Several times, it seemed that Nance was standing there with a bottle at the ready, waiting for me to finish the last taste so she could pour the next one.
The Wines: $10 got us five tastes at Alexander Valley Vineyards. There were two menus to choose from; with four of us tasting, we had the opportunity to try both lists and passed glasses back and forth. We later found out that the winery has a complimentary tasting coupon on their “contact us” page.
I enjoyed the Alluvia, which is a winemakers blend of Syrah, Grenache, and Mourvedre, intended to showcase the classic Rhone grapes. I found it smooth and on the lighter side. In fact, I found that the Alluvia was my favorite of AVVs wines, which is surprising considering my predisposition toward Zinfandel.
Alexander Valley Vineyards has three Zinfandels, including Sin Zin, which theyve made since the 1970s and Ive had before. My opinion didnt change; its a serviceable Zin with a cool name. I appreciated their fun idea of the Wicked Weekend three-wine pack; Temptation Zinfandel is meant for Friday, Sin Zin for Saturday, and Redemption Zinfandel for Sunday. Its a clever idea. Redemption is again a serviceable Zinfandel, but unfortunately I wasnt very impressed by Temptation. Redemption, though, had more of the typical Zinfandel spiciness.
Before moving on to the Cyrus wines, considered AVVs benchmark series, we tried the Syrah and Cabernet and were neither over- nor underwhelmed. So we went on to Cyrus. There were two Cyrus vintages on the tasting list, 2006 and 2008. Each year, the winemaker chooses the best of the Bordeaux grapes for Cyrus; in 2008, that meant two lots of Cabernet Sauvignon, two lots of Merlot, and one each of Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Malbec. The 2006 used the same varietals. The two are quite different from one another. The 2008 Cyrus was definitely the favorite among the two. All four of us thought that the 2006 started off better but finished with a strange and fairly unpleasant aftertaste.
The Experience: Overall, we enjoyed seeing Alexander Valley Vineyards, but found the wines to be okay, rather than anything fantastic. The facilities are definitely worth seeing, and I was disappointed that wed arrived too late in the day to get a wine cave tour (11 am and 2 pm). We enjoyed meeting Nance and learning about the winery dogs Mattie, Callie, and Dexter two of whom gave us a bit of a tour of the outdoor areas, including the picnic areas. Its also great to see the dedication to environmental sustainability.