A Wine Tasting Itinerary in the Northern Alexander Valley
One of Sonoma's warmest winegrowing regions, the Alexander Valley is acclaimed for their Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel and flavorful Chardonnays. This itinerary takes you to the northernmost wineries in the Alexander Valley. Kelley & Young Wines is based in downtown Cloverdale, while J. Rickards and Zialena are on vineyard estates outside of Geyserville. For lunch we recommend swinging through Diavola Pizzeria in Geyserville and making a quick stop at Mercury Wine to really get the full breadth of creative expression in the northern Alexander Valley.
Kelley & Young Wines
The Kelley & Young team started making wine in 2005 with their Winemaker's family's grapes, whom has been farming on the same land for 7 generations. The goal with Kelley & Young is to make high-end, food pairable, and complex wines without the high end price tag. All grapes are sourced from a nearby sustainable Alexander Valley vineyard, with wine varietals including Zinfandel, Malbec and Sauvignon Blanc. The team believes in letting the varietals shine through, making wine that they absolutely adore, and sharing it with family, friends and guests.
This is a very small family winery that makes no more than 1500-1700 cases per year.In addition to the downtown Cloverdale tasting room, Kelley & Young operates the Wine Garden Inn. Visitors to this region should consider this for accommodations!
Wines Produced: Sauvignon Blanc, Bordeaux Rose, Zinfandel, Malbec
Great experience! Linda was very kind and welcoming, we tasted some nice wines and ended up buying dessert wine and Malbec. Good quality wines and reasonable prices. -D.B., Google Review
J. Rickards Winery
J. Rickards Winery is a small family-run operation located at the northern end of the Alexander Valley. Owned and operated by Jim and Eliza Rickards, the vineyards have been planted over the past 40 years, augmenting the original 1908 Zinfandel vines. The winery started in 2005, born out of the encouragement of friends who have enjoyed the small lots of hand-crafted wine Jim has been making since 1991. Located on a picturesque hillside with stunning views of the valley and prime grape-growing conditions, J. Rickards is especially known for its estate Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, and Petite Sirah. Production has grown over the last decade from just a few hundred cases a year to over 5,000. But with no national distribution and extremely limited local distribution, the winery is still the only place to find most J. Rickards wines. As often as possible, Jim Rickards himself leads visitors through the tasting, sharing the history of the property and imparting decades of wisdom about the winemaking process.
Wines Produced: Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah, Sauvignon Blanc, red blends, white blends
We have been to J. Rickards several times. We just love spending time there and the wine is amazing. I don't think we've ever spent less than a couple hours there. The people that work there become friends quickly. -P.O. Google Review
Founded in 2009, Mercury Wine is the brainchild of Brad Beard. Brad is an Arizona native who has had a storied career in both sales and wine, so it was a natural fit for him to make wine and run his own wine label some day. With the help of local friends who grow and make wine, and his brother in the tasting room, Brad employs his preternaturally sensitive palate to design wines that reflect the best aspects of old-world wine making traditions and the demands of contemporary tastes.
Mercury Wine specializes in Bordeaux, Rioja, and Rhone-style blends along with some awesome esoteric whites. Brad's focus is on grapes grown in the Alexander Valley and he sources grapes from other interesting vineyards, locally and elsewhere in California. A delightful dive into creative expression in wine form makes tasting at Mercury Wine a singular experience.
Wines Produced: Zinfandel, Merlot, Tempranillo, Red blends, Albariño, Axina, Sauvignon blanc, Rosé, Sparkling wines
"The atmosphere is amazing. They make you part of the family new or member when ever you come. The wines are divine." - JG, Google Review
"We absolutely LOVE this place! Their wines are unique and delicious.Grady is amazing too! His enthusiasm for their family business is so infectious. Please stop in buy a bottle of something amazing and support this business!" - L, Google Review
Zialena Winery has roots in Geyserville dating back to the early 1900’s when Giuseppe Mazzoni immigrated from Italy. Joining the Italian Swiss Colony, he became a grape farmer and winemaker. His sons, Fred and Jim, carried on the tradition and produced wine in the “Dr. Pierces” barn on Highway 101 for much of the middle of the last century. Although the winemaking operation closed in the 1970’s, Jim’s youngest son, Mike, expanded the grape growing business which he continues to operate today under Mazzoni Vineyards.
Mike’s two children, Mark and Lisa, teamed up to carry on the family legacy and bring back the winemaking tradition under their label, Zialena. Specializing in estate grown Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon, Zialena also offers a wide selection of hand-crafted wines including Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. With few exceptions, all wines are available directly from the winery only. The new estate tasting room opened in in 2017 and is comprised of a world class winemaking facility featuring open top concrete fermenters and a hospitality center designed to soak in the surrounding views.
Wines Produced: Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Red Blends, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Rosé
Beautiful views and incredible wine!! Every wine we tasted was amazing. The views were gorgeous. The staff were friendly. The background and history was so interesting and Vince did a wonderful job of sharing the details of the history as well as the details of each wine. We sat outside and enjoyed the beautiful views during the tasting. -A.B., Google Review