In 1842, seven years before the California Gold Rush sent an array of gold miners and fortune seekers to populate what is now the state of California, nineteenth century pioneer Cyrus Alexander had already come to Northern California, to the area known as Sonoma County. Alexander settled the fertile valley now named for him, selecting the premier site in the Valley for his own residence. Today, Cyrus Alexander's homestead enjoys a twentieth century renaissance as Alexander Valley Vineyards, one of Sonoma County's most consistent yet, innovative wine estates. Before the California wine boom of the late 1960's, when most of the country still had no idea where Sonoma County even was, Harry and Maggie Wetzel purchased this now chosen wine estate from the heirs of Cyrus Alexander in 1962. Recognizing the agricultural potential of the area, the Wetzel's hired vineyard manager Dale Goode (Yes, indeed, the very same Dale Goode of Murphy-Goode fame) and began planting premium varietal vineyards, pioneering the earliest trellised vineyards in Sonoma. Within 10 years, 125 acres were planted and plans were underway for a small estate winery. From the beginning, Alexander Valley Vineyards has been a family affair. The Wetzel's son, Harry Wetzel III, better known as Hank, graduated from the University of California at Davis in 1974 with a degree in Enology and made the first estategrown wines in 1975. With this inaugural vintage, Dale Goode and Hank Wetzel formed a strong business relationship, teaming together to produce exceptional estate-grown wines literally from the ground up. Hank's younger sister Katie Wetzel joined the family business in 1979 as Sales and Marketing Director, and the saga continues. Today, over thirty years from inception, the Wetzel family continues to explore and fine tune vines and wines at Alexander Valley Vineyards, with the assistance of Vineyard Manager Mark Houser. Presently, older vineyards are being replanted with newer rootstocks and clonal selections. Costly French oak barrels and advanced winemaking equipment continuously replace older apparatus. Katie Wetzel Murphy remains a tireless ambassador and spokesperson as she travels to national and international markets, not only for Alexander Valley Vineyards, but also on behalf of the Sonoma County wine industry. But best of all, Alexander Valley Vineyards continues to experiment and improve its repertoire of proprietary blends and varietal offerings. Its most recent success is Two Barrel, a limited bottling of Syrah (70%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (30%), the two red varietals most conducive to the climate and soil of Alexander Valley. Not surprisingly, over the years, it has also been AVA's Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah varietals that have consistently tantalized the grateful palates of the tasting panel. Presently, annual production at AVA is in excess of 80,000 cases, from at least nine different varietals. The principal varietals, Chardonnay, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon comprise about 70% of the estate's total acreage. However, Syrah (the hottest red varietal internationally) continues its ascent in all respects. Small amounts of excellent Gewürztraminer, Chenin Blanc, Zinfandel, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Franc are also produced for a dedicated following.