Explore the Land of Chardonnay and Cabernet at Experience Alexander Valley

Looking for a unique wine event in Sonoma County? Experience Alexander Valley takes wine tasting in beautiful Healdsburg to the next level.

Experience Alexander Valley has been several years in the making, so it was exciting to have the opportunity to attend the very first year, thanks to Alexander Valley Winegrowers! I appreciated this innovative, new take on a wine weekend in Sonoma County, since I've both worked and attended many winery events over the years. Rather than purchase a wristband and bounce around to several wineries for their standard tastings, guests sign up for two experiences per day - One in the morning and one in the afternoon.

Experiences included pizza making at Francis Ford Coppola Winery, an ice cream competition at Simi Winery, brunch and bocce at Trione Winery, and ravioli making at Zialena Winery, among many others. My best friend, Paige, and I attended the event on Sunday and had such a blast!

Our morning experience took place at Hanna Winery and Vineyard for their "Spa Day" and we were immediately greeted with their famous Sauvignon Blanc, which I am a huge fan of! The group was led on a scenic hike through the vineyards, stopping halfway to fill our glasses up with rosé, before circling back to the tasting room.

The highlight of my visit to Hanna's Red Ranch Estate was discovering a half acre of Saint Macaire! Saint Macaire is considered to be a long lost grape variety used in Cabernet Sauvignon blends, before it was wiped out by phylloxera in France in the late 1800s. It never made a comeback in Europe, but was later found in Australia and California. Only one total acre of Saint Macaire exists in California, O'Shaughnessy Vineyards on Howell Mountain has a half acre and they provided cuttings to Hanna, who now has the other half acre.

After adventuring through the vineyards, we began the spa day portion of our experience at Hanna. Owner and founder, Nicole Simpkins, introduced us to her Healdsburg-based wellness brand, Wine Country Botanicals, and I immediately fell in love with their products that ranged from body lotion and bubble bath, to soy candles and perfume rollerballs.

We received a hand massage with their Sonoma Collection shea butter sugar scrub, which contains an intoxicating essential oil blend of lavender, bergamot, patchouli, sandalwood, and vetiver. The scrub made my skin feel so incredible that I bought a jar to take home, in addition to the adorable goodie bag they gave to us, filled with trial sizes of several products. Sugar scrub and Sauvignon Blanc for the win!

Our afternoon session was at Jordan Winery for their experience, "Explore Jordan's Wine Country Table," at their magnificent French chateau-inspired winery just outside Healdsburg. Upon arrival, we grabbed a glass of their non-vintage brut champagne, Jordan Cuvée, produced through their partnership with AR Lenoble in France and only available for purchase directly at the winery. Their Marketing Director, Lisa Mattson, led us on an informative tour of their gorgeous property and we even got to taste raspberries directly off the bushes in the garden!

Jordan exclusively produces Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon, so following the tour, we were presented with food pairings created in their very own kitchen that beautifully showcased each varietal. Seated outside at tables underneath towering oak trees, we tasted two vintages of Chardonnay with an hors d’oeuvre pairing utilizing ingredients fresh from the garden. Afterwards, we ventured into the dining room, where we tried two different vintages of their Cabernet Sauvignon, with a standout hors d’oeuvre pairing, local artisan cheeses, and Jordan Estate Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

Experience Alexander Valley was a fabulous event and I enjoyed spending time at Hanna and Jordan to dive into their culture, wines, and offerings. You'll definitely see me at this event next year and I can't wait to see the lineup of new experiences to try!

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