The Alexander Valley is a Californian American Viticultural Area (AVA) located north of Healdsburg in Sonoma County. It is home to many wineries and vineyards, as well as the city of Cloverdale. It is the largest and most fully planted wine region in Sonoma. Highway 101 runs through the valley, and the Russian River flows down the valley, surrounded by vineyards on both sides. From the higher elevations of the valley rim, there is view as far south as Taylor Mountain and Sonoma Mountain. The region was named for Cyrus Alexander, owner of a part of the Rancho Sotoyome Mexican land grant, in 1847. Granted AVA status in 1984, the boundaries of the appellation are defined in the Code of Federal Regulations, Title 27, Section 9.53.
In its early history, the territory commonly referred to as the "Alexander Valley" denoted the benchlands east of the Russian River leading up to the Mayacamas Mountains. The area west of the Russian River was known as the “the plaines” or “the ranchos.” Viticulture in the area dates back to 1843, when Cyrus Alexander used vines cuttings collected from Fort Ross on the Pacific coast, to establish vineyards in the area. For most of its history the region was predominately associated with mass produced bulk & jug wines made from indiscriminately planted field blends of red grape varieties. A modern era of quality wine production began in the late 1960s when a new owner of Simi Winery sought to revive the area's long winemaking history. In the 1970s, a new wave of producers, such as Chateau Souverain and Jordan Vineyards, descended upon the area and started making wines that received critical and consumer acclaim. In 1988, E & J Gallo Winery purchased substantial tracks of land in the Alexander Valley to establish the fine wine brand of the company.
In 1963, one of Alexander Valley's most prestigious vineyards, the Robert Young Vineyard, was planted. There were few wineries in the area at the time so the vineyard sourced most of it fruit to wineries outside the valley. One of these wineries, Chateau St. Jean, was so impressed with the quality of fruit that with the 1975 vintage of their Chardonnay they put the name of the vineyard on the wine label. This "vineyard designated wine" would be one of the first premium wines in California wine history to have the name of the vineyard appear on the label. (Source: Wikipidia)