Sonoma County's Alexander Valley Vineyards wins Wine, Beer + Spirits Industry Awards for 2018
Kevin Hall takes joy in helping to make a name for not just cabernet sauvignon wines from Sonoma County but particularly those from its Alexander Valley appellation.
Like other North Coast winemakers who have noted the bountiful 2018 harvest, Hall said his 21st crush at Alexander Valley Vineyards, at just more than 3,500 tons, was 1,000 tons over the highest previous point for the winery, started by the Wetzel family in 1975. Production last year was 175,000 cases of mostly estate-produced wine, retailing mostly for $20 a bottle, with the Cyrus red blend at $65.
“For the past five or six years, we’ve been sold out on many of our products,” he said. “This allows us to not sell out as quickly.”
Hall worked in the cellars of Sebastiani Vineyards and R.H. Phillips before earning a master’s degree in enology from University of California, Davis, in 1997. After a year of touring world wine regions and stints at wineries in Germany and New Zealand, he started as a winemaker for the Wetzels, rising to lead that effort the following year.
His passion is to highlight what makes quality Alexander Valley cab distinct from such wines made in Napa Valley. That difference in the grapes is soft and supple tannins that help create wines that both can be poured at young ages but have the acidity to stay in the bottle for a while. Estate wines are aged 14 months then bottled and released within six months.
Being able to hold onto barrel-aging program, which can be pricey compared with large tanks with oak inserts, and not relying on wine in bulk as production rises are two points of pride for Hall.
“I like to use oak barrels,” Hall said. “There are very few of our growers I haven’t dealt with for 20 years.”