Alexander Valley Wine History
The Influence of Alexander Valley History on its Modern Wine Industry
Alexander raised livestock, constructed a grist mill, and built several buildings for Delano. As payment for his services, he was rewarded with 10,000 acres of his own. In 1846, he planted the first vineyards in the valley.
American farmers slowly moved to the area and displaced the Pomo Indians. The early economy centered around wheat production. The Alexander Valley was perceived as the frontier of civilization during these early years.
In 1872, H. Kier built the region’s first winery. Geyser Peak Winery soon followed in 1880. In 1887, the Italian Swiss Colony was settled in the town of Asti. Established by a wealthy San Francisco businessman, the colony was a charitable venture designed to give poor immigrants the opportunity to live off of the land.
The valley established itself as a premium viticultural area in the 1880s and 1890s. Wines produced by resident wineries were highly valued, especially the Zinfandels. Unfortunately, phylloxera wiped out much of the burgeoning wine industry. After the onset of Prohibition, only 2 wineries remained open due to Church contracts. The Great Depression and WWII delayed any renaissance in the region’s wine industry.
Vineyards began to be replanted in the mid 1950s, and the area saw tremendous growth during the 1960s and 1970s. The valley received AVA status in 1984. It currently produces some of the best Cabernet Sauvignon in the state.
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