Signed in as:
Signed in as:
We kicked off the Alexander Valley Cabernet Academy with a blending experience in the Adobe at Alexander Valley Vineyards with Head of Operations Harry Wetzel IV. Using a graduated cylinder and pipette we made our own Bordeaux blends from 2022 Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc, then judged them blind to select our favorite. It was a bit intimidating at first but we were quickly immersed in the challenge. It became apparent that you can spend hours upon hours attempting to refine a blend.
We were next treated to an exquisite outdoor dinner behind the home overlooking their gardens and vineyards. Culinary Director Tim Gleadall served us appetizers, an estate green salad, a-to-die-for braised lamb shank with creamy polenta and asparagus, and an olive oil chocolate torte, paired with Rosé of Sangiovese, Sauvignon Blanc, the 2017 Cyrus, and Merlot.
What away to kick off the week!!!
Day two of the Alexander Valley Winegrowers Cabernet Academy began with Bret Munselle of Munselle Vineyards giving us a driving history of the valley. Bret’s family has farmed the valley for nearly a century-and-a-half.
Next, Harry Wetzel IV and Kevin Hall of Alexander Valley Vineyards give us a primer on weather and microclimates as we tasted through Cabernet Sauvignon from Lancaster, Rodney Strong, Stonestreet, and Alexander Valley Vineyards.
After a walking tour of the AVV grounds and caves (plus a stop at the tasting room for some more pours) we were driven to lunch at Trione Vineyards and Winery, featuring the best pizza in the valley: Diavola. Alice Sutro of SUTRO Wine and John Duckett and Kris Hicks of Trione then talked us through the valley’s geology, soil, and viticulture as we tasted Cabs from Stuhlmuller Vineyards, AVV, Trione, Rodney Strong, and SUTRO.
Dinner and conversation was back out on a hilltop at AVV. As the only California camp member, it was a privilege to get to know and learn from the 12 other impressive industry professionals who trekked from across the country to attend. Our hosts were so generous with their time and attention to detail. It is easy to see why they make the Alexander Valley one of the premier wine regions of the world.
Hard to imagine packing much more fun into a day!
The Alexander Valley Winegrowers Cabernet Academy knows how to orchestrate an event. Day three began with navigating a luxury bus up a steep, windy, cow-obstructed, fog-shrouded dirt road to a crest at 2,000 feet where our hosts from Stonestreet Winery awaited us with an exquisite tasting of valley and mountain-fruit Cabernet Sauvignon. On cue, they pronounced that the fog should clear—and it did—and we were awestruck by the stunning vista of vineyards below. A walking tour led many in our group to declare that they would create their own counter-culture, tented commune and live on the hilltops. Ultimately, however, we were distracted by a picturesque ageability lunch that featured wines from Alexander Valley Vineyards, Stonestreet, and Trione from 2006, 2010, and 2011. Many seek perfection in their lives, and this event and lunch was about as close to it as it gets.
After a brief respite back at the Geyserville Inn, we were shuttled to Rodney Strong Vineyards for a barrel-room tasting of blended Bordeaux varietals from Alexander Valley Vineyards (AVV), Rodney Strong, Robert Young Winery, Coppola, and Silver Oak; a courtyard reception featuring wines from La Cienega Vineyard, Davis Bynum, Rowen, and Rodney Strong; and by another gourmet meal. During dinner Harry Wetzel IV of AVV opened a bottle of their 1978 Sin Zin. Think a Zinfandel can’t age 45 years? Wrong! This wine had the aroma of a ruby port and was gorgeous. What a treat!
Senior Vice President of Winemaking and Winegrowing Justin Seidenfeld even gave Steve a personal tour of the innovative vineyard practices he is putting in place featuring the concept of pounds per vine (as opposed to tons per acre).
How much great wine, great food, and great people can one person handle in a few days’ time? Well, ask us and we can tell you because we experienced it!
We are very appreciative of, and humbled by, Alexander Valley Winegrowers for their incredible hospitality this week. They made us feel like royalty. Suffice it to say, we are staunch advocates of the Alexander Valley. You should be too.