Sonoma County Wineries: Alexander Valley Winery Guide
In October when the weather is sparkling clear and warm and vineyards are aflame in reds and golds, their fruit safely harvested, the residents of the Alexander Valley gather for old time fun at the Fall Colors Festival in Geyserville. The Volunteer Fire Department puts on a pancake breakfast. A vintage car show and Fifties music, giant pumpkins, scarecrows, and kids games are on the agenda. This is the best time of year to buy local pears and apples at one of the festival booths lining main street.
The first Euro-American immigrant to settle in the valley, Cyrus Alexander arrived on horseback in 1842. To learn more about Cyrus Alexander, Click Here.
By the 1850s, horse-drawn stages carrying tourists stopped in the fledgling town on their way to the steaming vents and hot springs of the “Devil’s Canyon” geysers on Geyser Peak, in the world’s largest geyser field. Today, you may see columns of rising steam from the power company’s field, which is closed to the public.
During much of the twentieth century, orchards covered the valley–-prunes,
walnuts, peaches and apples. From a vanishing breed of fruit farmers,
Joel and Renee Kiff grow fifty-five varieties of apples, succulent
Ambrosia melons, berries and flowers at their three-acre Ridgeview
Farms. Their produce is sold at local farmer’s markets.
Orchards on the flatlands of the valley on both sides of the Russian River have given way to the vineyards of dozens of wineries and small grape growers. Just thirty miles inland from the Pacific Ocean, the valley floor is blessed with deep, sandy loam where vigorous vines produce rich, herbal Chardonnays and Sauvignon Blanc grapes. On the north end, vineyards on rocky, volcanic hillsides catch the breeze and the sun in their own micro-climate, which is perfect for Cabernet, Merlot and Sangiovese grapes. Cool air currents from the Russian River, and through the Healdsburg “gap” from the ocean, lower summertime temperatures at night, extending the growing season and resulting in high acidity and fruit-forward flavors.
The article on this page is adapted from the book, Backroads of the California Wine Country by Karen Misuraca (www.karenmisuraca.com), published by Voyageur Press.