Rodney Strong, in Healdsburg, is named for its founder, who was a classically-trained professional dancer before retiring in 1959 to make wine. Originally from Washington state, Strong and his wife moved to northern California and bought and blended bulk wines to sell under their own label. In 1962 Strong purchased 159 acres in Sonoma County, and within a decade had acquired additional vineyards in the Russian River Valley. In 1989 the estate was purchased by the Klein family and is today still owned and managed by Tom Klein. The estate has grown to more than 500 acres in the Alexander Valley, Chalk Hill, the Russian River Valley and the Sonoma Coast. It is known for single vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, and its reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
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.