When we purchased Alegría Vineyards in 1990, we became stewards of property first cultivated in the 1850s. We began by reviving the Zinfandel field-blend vineyard that was established in the 1890’s. Then we planted 18 acres of new vines that should be productive through the 21st century. Alegría Vineyards now includes 27 acres, planted with Zinfandel, Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Sangiovese, Dolcetto, Petite Sirah, Alicante Bouschet, and several lesser-known varieties. In 1996, we established Acorn Winery and released our first wine, an estate-grown Sangiovese.
Bill Nachbaur’s Sonoma County roots run as deep as our Zinfandel’s. In 1868, his maternal great-great-grandparents lived less than three miles from Alegría Vineyards. His father’s ancestors settled in Petaluma about the same time. One of Bill’s grandfathers worked in Napa Valley vineyards in the 1890s. Bill, a past president of the Sonoma County Grape Growers, manages the vineyard operations and winemaking. Before becoming a winegrower, Bill practiced law in Washington, D.C. and San Francisco.
Betsy is from the East Coast and grew up mostly in Connecticut. Her ancestors may not have been farmers, but they appreciated and drank good wine. With degrees in political science and public administration, Betsy had a career in public policy and banking before turning her full attention to what has become the family business. She manages administration and marketing for the winery.
Acorn Winery is named to honor the many old oak trees in our vineyards, for the oak used in the barrels where our wines mature, and in recognition of our very small size. The vineyard’s name, Alegría, means joy. Working in the vineyards makes us happy, and we hope that drinking wines made from our grapes will bring alegría to your life.
Alegría Vineyards and Acorn Winery
Russian River Valley
In the Russian River Valley appellation, near the town of Healdsburg in Sonoma County, Alegría Vineyards has been producing superlative wine grapes for more than a century. In ancient times the meandering Russian River formed the vineyards’ rolling landscape and deposited the gravelly clay-loam soils that nourish our vines. Fog and cool breezes from the Pacific Ocean reach up the Russian River Valley to the vineyard, producing cool nights and foggy mornings that give us the long growing season ideal for premium quality grapes. The particular climate, soil, and topography of Alegría Vineyards, and our unique mix of grape varieties, combine to produce award-winning wines with luscious fruit, surprising complexity, and balance.
Our vineyards provide a consistent source of the highest quality estate-grown grapes for our winery, nestled under tall old oak trees in the middle of Alegría Vineyards. Each year, we select about 20% of the crop for our Acorn wines. We sell the rest of our grapes to other premium wineries. All of our wines are made from our own estate-grown grapes.
At Acorn Winery, we strive to make wine that emphasizes the fruit flavors and aromas of the individual grape varieties and exhibits the subtle influence of our vineyards’ special terroir. We do this through gentle handling of the grapes and wine.
To highlight fruitiness, for example, we try to maximize the number of whole grapes going into the fermenter from the crusher. When we put the wine in barrels, we use a mix of old and new barrels to add subtle oak flavors that do not overpower the fruit. We make all our wines to enhance food. They complement food flavors, and they evolve over the course of a meal.
Like an acorn, our winery is tiny, producing less than 3000 cases annually. Acorn varietal wines include Zinfandel, Dolcetto, Sangiovese, and Syrah.
Acorn’s Heritage Vines Zinfandel is a field blend of Zinfandel and other varieties interplanted in an old vineyard that dates back to the 1890s. Petite Sirah, Alicante Bouschet, and other varieties in the old vineyard’s field blend add complexity to the Zinfandel flavors. The mixed varieties are harvested and fermented together. This seductive wine is filled with rich aromas and flavors of berries, spice, and chocolate.
In keeping with the tradition of the pioneers who planted our old field-blend Zinfandel, we planted small amounts of two other Tuscan varieties, Canaiolo Nero and Mammolo Toscano, and our Dolcetto includes small amounts of two other Piedmont varieties, Barbera and Freisa. Our “Axiom” is 76% Syrah blended with other varieties including the Rhone grapes Cinsaut and Viognier.
Made in the traditional Tuscan style, our Sangiovese has aromas of rose petals and violets, with soft tannins that frame flavors of cherry, vanilla, spice, and chocolate.
Our Dolcetto is a dry robust wine with aromas of plum, black cherry, and anise with rich, jammy flavors of raspberry, boysenberry, and blueberry blended with bright cherries and cassis to create a delicious full-bodied wine.
Axiom, our Syrah blend, has a fruit-filled nose and lush flavors of strawberries, spiced cherries, and sweet vanilla, with a long finish of spicy berries and oak.
Because we pick our grapes at peak ripeness, Acorn’s wines have full and complex fruit flavors that linger on the palate. The wines demonstrate that the microclimate of Alegría Vineyards brings out the essence of the grapes’ varietal character.
In our winemaking, we are fortunate to be able to work with leading winemakers. For example, because we sell Zinfandel grapes to Rosenblum Cellars, we are able to make Acorn’s Zinfandel there under the supervision of Kent Rosenblum, and Jeff Cohn who are recognized for their success with Zinfandel. In his own winemaking, Bill consults with winemakers who have purchased our grapes and other experts such as Alison Duran at Lewis Cellars in the Napa Valley. This blending of experience produces outstanding and unique wines.
We believe that wine is made in the vineyard. Our conscientious vineyard practices assure the quality grapes we need to make wines that express the essence of their grape varieties and vineyard terroir.
In the vineyard, our underlying goal is sustainable agriculture. We avoid insecticides and limit other artificial inputs through a labor-intensive process that requires paying individual attention to each vine. We remove leaves to expose the grapes to the sun to keep them healthy and to maximize color and flavor development. We thin the crop to keep the vines in balance. We allow grass and weeds to grow between the vines to provide habitat for beneficial insects and prevent erosion. Bill’s intimate knowledge of each variety’s characteristics and requirements ensures the production of excellent fruit.
Special Vineyards, Special Wines
Our grapes and wines continue an enduring, deeply rooted heritage in the Russian River Valley. We hope you will enjoy our wines and that you will be able to visit us at Alegría Vineyards and Acorn Winery.
Bill & Betsey Nachbaur