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Alexander Valley

Harris-Kratka Vineyard-Alexander Valley-Sonoma County

At the very south end of Alexander Valley, just short of Chalk Hill appellation lies the Harris- Kratka Vineyard.  This 17 acres was purchased in 1992 and is comprised of  Zinfandel, Petite Sirah and Carignane.  It is red clay loam soil, irrigated and with VSP trellacing.

Originally 9 acres of this lot was head trained, dry farmed with French Columbard which sold to Gallo. 40% of the current Zinfandel was grafted from old vine Zin on the property.

We share this bounty with Rockwall Wine Co, Manzanita Creek, Fieldstone, R&B Cellars, Pezzi-King, Wilson and  Rosenblum.


McClain Vineyard-Alexander Valley-Sonoma County

It was 65 degrees, cool for mid August in Alexander Valley where we were meeting up with John McClain. We buy a good portion of John’s vineyard and were interested in the progress of the grapes. After last year when the grapes weren’t picked until October 15 due to an unusually cool summer everyone involved is a little nervous. As John said, Mother Nature could still throw us a curve but as of now the fruit looks great, in fact this is the best I’ve ever seen it look.

John has been a grower for 10 years and until 2011, also made his own wine. His vines originated from cuttings from a 120 year old vineyard on River Road. He tends his 3 ½ acres with great care and a concern not only for the terroir but also the consumer. He uses only sulphur to prevent mildew, fertilizes with cow manure and deals with gophers by introducing King and Garter snakes. I asked him what he did about birds and deer. He said ‘eat them if we can catch them.’ He added that the deer seem to prefer the other side of the river and the birds get interested about the time the fruit is ripening and then it’s too late to make a dent. The first 2 years harvest was on September 8, the next year September 15 and this year he estimates between September 8 and 25.

He grows mainly Zin and Petite Sirah with a couple of rows of Carignane and Primitivo. The dominant flavor in wine made from his grapes is cherries. One block of Primitivo Diane Wilson has dibs on. She also buys whatever is left over after we get our allotment. We are in royal company as John’s fruit is gorgeous and Diane is a great winemaker.