Seghesio Family Vineyards is one of Sonoma County’s historic wineries. Its roots date to 1886, when Edoardo Seghesio immigrated from Piedmont, Italy, to Sonoma, where he worked as a winemaker for Italian Swiss Colony. By 1902 Seghesio had purchased 56 acres in Northern Alexander Valley and had completed his first crush from his own vineyards. Today the estate includes 300 acres and is owned by the Crimson Wine Group, a conglomerate of small, West Coast wineries. Some members of the Seghesio family are still involved in management and the estate makes a broad selection of red and white wines. It is known for its Zinfandels, though it also produces Barbera, Sangiovese, Italian style whites, such as Arneis, and blends.
Alexander Valley is an American Viticultural Area just north of Healdsburg, in Sonoma County. It was granted AVA status in 1984, with amendments made in subsequent years. The Russian River flows through the valley, and the region was named for Cyrus Alexander, a 19th century landowner and grape grower. The AVA includes 15,000 vineyard acres, much of it rich, alluvial soil layered on a bed of gravel, somewhat similar to many vineyards in Bordeaux. Alexander Valley is sheltered from marine weather by the low hills northeast of Healdsburg, though it is often shrouded in the morning fog coming off the Russian River. Some of the earliest commercial winemaking in the area started in the 1880s, when immigrants formed the Italian Swiss Colony cooperative at Asti. The region made jug wines until the 1960s and 1970s, when a new wave of quality-minded producers started estates. Today Alexander Valley is home to some of California’s most admired wineries, including Simi, Stonestreet and the Francis Ford Coppola Winery. Silver Oak Cellars, though based in Napa Valley, has a second winery in Alexander Valley where it makes Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Many grapes do well in the Alexander Valley, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc and Zinfandel.
Zinfandel is a black-skinned grape, but 85% of the wine produced is made into a rosy “White Zinfandel.” Red Zin is far more complex and bold, while still being light-bodied. It grows in popularity as winemakers continue to experiment with new styles and blends.