We visited Alexander Valley Vineyards for wine tasting in Sonoma County California. Here's a review of our visit!
Late in the summer of 2018, the husband and I packed our bags and headed to California.
We were headed to Yosemite, but on the way, we visited family, went wine tasting, and spent a day in San Francisco.
After putting so much effort into planning our backpacking trip to Yosemite, the rest of the visit was mostly (totally) unscheduled.
And so, a few days before we left for Yosemite, six of us piled into a van and headed towards Napa.
On the way, we searched Google and texted friends trying to find the best vineyards to visit.
We quickly realized vineyard tastings in Napa are expensive. As in, $50 a person is fairly common.
And no, that's not for extra pricey wines, and no, it didn't include food.
And most of the vineyards required appointments.
If you're planning a weekend getaway or road trip through California, and plan on visiting vineyards, know that they can be EXPENSIVE!
Since we had a van full of people who were not prepared to spend $50 each on a wine tasting and no appointment, things began to look bleak.
That's when I remembered that some friends had recommended nearby Sonoma over Napa, and eventually dear, sweet Google led us to a free wine tasting at Alexander Valley Vineyards in Sonoma.
Note: Years have gone by, and the tastings at this winery are now paid, but still more affordable than many experiences in the region. The wine cave tour we took is still free as of 2023.
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Alexander Valley Vineyards: Tastings Review
We pulled into the parking lot, wandered into the tasting room, and were immediately greeted by two smiling employees.
The employees were friendly and unpretentious, the tastings were generous, and each of us were able to sample about five wines. And importantly, their wines were phenomenal.
For all the up-to-date pricing details (including the information for large groups, which is a little different), check out their website.
Wine Cave Tour Review
This vineyard stores their wine barrels inside man-made caves!
This clever solution to a wine cellar is eco-friendly, as the earth does all the work to maintain the stable, chilled temperature all year long.
Our free tour included walking through the caves to view the barrels, information about where the barrels come from, and what they do with the barrels after aging.
I was most excited about the bonus tasting inside the wine cave!
Our tour guide used a wine thief to siphon out unaged cabernet sauvignon from both a French oak barrel and an American oak barrel, and then we all tasted the difference.
Spoiler alert: The American oak had a much more "woodsy" flavor.
Next, we left the cave, and he pointed out their olive trees, their cork tree, and the different areas on the grounds that we could explore.
We left feeling happy and satisfied with our day-trip through California's wine country, with several bottles of wine in tow.