Alexander Valley is an important AVA (American Viticultural Area) located in the famous Sonoma County wine-growing region of California. It is home to some of the best wineries in the United States. Its name derives from Cyrus Alexander, a big landowner in Sonoma in 1847, and later the AVA became famous with its vineyards with the settling of Swiss-Italian emigrants in 1888.
In the beginning, the area was predominately associated with mass-produced bulk blended wines until the 1960s when innovative and quality-driven wineries were established. The leading grape variety of the Alexander Valley became the Cabernet Sauvignon which gives birth to vibrant and fruity wines with a good structure and power.
The climate in the Alexander Valley is warm and dry, influenced by the nearby Pacific Ocean, which provides the much-needed cool breezes and fogs in the nights to cool down the vineyards and preserve the acidity in the grapes. The soils of the AVA are quite diverse due to the long history of plate movements that pasted ancient seafloor on to the continent, deposited younger volcanic and sedimentary rock which are very poor and tend to be well-drained. The best vineyards are planted on the southwest-facing slopes sitting on the Mayacamas mountain range at around 150 metres above sea level.
As mentioned, the Cabernet Sauvignon is the main grape followed by the Merlot, which is a great partner to the Cabernet as well as a standing alone varietal wine. The Zinfandel deserves special attention as some of the best examples are coming from Alexander Valley, especially the ones from old vines.
Other notable grape varieties are Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Grenache, Viognier and Syrah.