Souverain’s history dates to 1944 when J. Leland Stewart harvested his first crop from his vineyard near Howell Mountain. Stewart focused on making Cabernet Sauvignon, and for several decades his Cabs were widely admired by those who believed that California could produce world class wine. Stewart sold the winery to investors in 1973, staying on for almost a decade as winemaking consultant. At the time of the sale, the estate moved to Alexander Valley, where it remains today. In 1986 the estate was sold to Beringer and the word “Chateau” was added to the name. Ed Killian was hired as an associate winemaker in 1992 and since 1996 he has been head winemaker. Souverain owns a 120-year old estate vineyard of about 280 acres. Souverain produces Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon.
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.
One of the most widely grown grape varieties, it can be found in nearly every wine growing region. A cross between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc. It’s a hardy vine that produces a full-bodied wine with high tannins and great aging potential.