Alexander Valley Guide
The Alexander Valley Appellation, Sonoma County’s largest AVA, sits east of the 101 in Northern Sonoma County, where vineyards sprawl across the valley in the shadow of the Mayacama Mountains. Characterized by 82 winegrowers, 31 wineries, and 15,000 vineyard acres, Alexander has no shortage of wine. Yet with a history that includes once being California's second-most visited tourism destination, after Disneyland, the Alexander Valley has so many things to do beyond just winery hopping. Read on to discover our guide to Sonoma County’s Alexander Valley.
Cabernet Sauvignon reigns supreme in Sonoma County’s largest AVA. At Silver Oak, for example, Cabernet Sauvignon has been the winery’s singular focus since 1972. Enjoy tastings and food and wine pairings in their new state-of-the-art tasting room. Nearby, Jordan also specializes in Cabernet Sauvignon, among other varietals, and features a unique selection of winery tours and food and wine pairings on their property that boasts 360-degree views of Alexander Valley. Elsewhere, notable wineries include the historic Soda Rock Winery, Francis Ford Coppola Winery, Clos du Bois, Medlock Ames, Robert Young, and Stonestreet Estate Vineyards, which was founded by Kendall-Jackson's Jess Stonestreet Jackson.
Wine tasting in the Alexander Valley culminates every winter with Winter Wineland, a two-day event throughout Northern Sonoma County. Taste vintages, meet winemakers, enjoy local cuisine, and sip your way through the Alexander Valley. In its 28th year, Winter Wineland takes place in 2020 on January 18 and 19, featuring more than 100 wineries! Tickets are available on the Wine Road's website.
Things To Do
Beyond the Alexander Valley vineyards, the area is chock-full of craft brewpubs, cideries, and other makers. Among them is Alley 6 Craft Distillery in Healdsburg and Cloverdale Ale Company in Cloverdale. In Windsor, there is Tilted Shed Ciderworks, No Quarter Brewing, and Russian River Brewing.
For outdoor lovers, Alexander Valley is conveniently located along the Russian River. Float or paddle through the Alexander Valley with River’s Edge Kayak & Canoe Trips, which is among the local outfitters that offer trips down the Russian River via kayak, canoe, or standup paddleboard. For outdoor adventure by land, Fitch Mountain and Healdsburg Open Preserve are in the town of Healdsburg itself, and both are easy hikes. Due west from Healdsburg is Lake Sonoma, which has more than 40 miles of hiking trails, and boat and kayak rentals available at the marina. On a rainy day, travelers can pop into the Lake Sonoma Visitor Center and Fish Hatchery to learn more about the local history and see an operating fish hatchery in action.
By night, there's Raven Theatre in Healdsburg, which hosts more than 100 theatrical productions annually. Meanwhile, live music takes place on weekends at bars like Geyserville Gun Club and Elephant In The Room in Healdsburg.
Where To Eat
Where to eat in and around the Alexander Valley begins in Healdsburg, which boasts numerous award-winning restaurants. Single Thread was the first Sonoma County restaurant to be awarded three Michelin stars, which it received for 2019, while Madrona Manor is Healdsburg’s other Michelin-starred restaurant. Other notable Healdsburg restaurants include Valette, Bravas Bar de Tapas, Barndiva, and Campo Fina.
North of Healdsburg, the small town of Geyserville is known for its Italian offerings with Diavola Pizzeria & Salumeria and Catelli's. Guests waiting for a table, or who want a post-dinner libation, can enjoy a drink at Geyserville Gun Club next door. Continuing south, the town of Windsor boasts an eclectic range of cuisine, which includes KC's American Kitchen, KIN Windsor, Tomi Thai, and Ume Japanese Bistro.
Where To Stay
Boutique inns and bed and breakfasts dot the Alexander Valley, such as the Geyserville Inn and Alexander Valley Lodge in Geyserville, and Old Crocker Inn and Kelley & Young Wine Garden Inn in Cloverdale. Unique to the Alexander Valley are numerous wineries where travelers can actually spend the night, including Blue Rock Vineyard and Icaria Winery in Cloverdale, and Starlite Vineyards in Geyserville. Some wineries, too, offer accommodations on property for wine club members.