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Regional Map / Russian River Watershed

Alexander Valley

Alexander Valley Map

Downstream of Squaw Rock the Russian River spreads out over the 22-mile long Alexander Valley. Flanked by mountains on each side, the valley has numerous small tributary streams and a few large creeks. Over many thousands of years over a hundred feet of gravel, eroded from the surrounding hills, has filled the valley. Floodplain wetlands and riparian habitats developed a mantle of fertile soil in the valley.

Following trapper Cyrus Alexander’s settlement in the area, Alexander Valley became an agricultural region producing fruit crops, winegrapes, dairy, and livestock. The Italian Swiss colony at Asti was a major winery before a root louse, phylloxera, wiped out the early wine industry. During the 1960s, Robert Young planted winegrapes, re-invigorating the wine industry in Alexander Valley. Today, Cloverdale and Geyserville are the primary towns. Tributary streams in the Alexander Valley include: Big Sulphur, Oat Valley, Icaria, Crocker, Barrelli, Gill, Gird, Peterson, Miller, Lytton, Sausal, and Hoot Owl creeks.

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Alexander Valley in the 1800s hosted orchards and dairies. A very wide Russian River corridor is seen in the background
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Today Alexander Valley primarily supports vineyards and wineries
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Wine barrels at Italian Swiss Colony
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This postcard of the grapevines was sold at the Italian Swiss Colony gift shop in the 1950's

 

Certified Sites:

Enrolled Sites:


Certified

Jackson Family Farms—Jimtown Vineyard
This 140-acre vineyard borders Sausal Creek where Arundo donax or giant reed has been removed and native riparian plants have been installed. Visit www.kj.com.

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Mechanical weed control reduces the use of herbicides

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Beringer Vineyards—Asti Ranch and Bauer Ranch
The 471-acre Asti Ranch encompasses the former Italian Swiss colony winery as well as frontage on three creeks and over one mile of the Russian River. This reach of the Russian River supports Chinook salmon, and Beringer installed a major revegetation project to reduce bank erosion. The 53-acre Bauer Ranch is managed for soil conservation and a minimum use of chemicals. Visit www.beringer.com

Other Beringer sites: Foote Ranch and Knights Valley ranch in Knights Valley section; La Petite Étoile in the Santa Rosa section.

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Creek on Asti Ranch

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Italian Swiss Colony in 1952, now Beringer’s Asti Ranch.

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Beringer’s Asti Ranch
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Willow baffles installed along the Russian River at the Asti Ranch help revegetate the riverbank

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Clos du Bois Winery and Vineyards
Clos du Bois farms over 800 acres in the Alexander Valley adjacent to the Russian River and Lytton Creek. In 2002, Clos du Bois received the 2003 Innovator Award from the Department of Pesticide Regulation for their integrated pest management program that greatly reduces the use of pesticides in the vineyards. Clos du Bois annually produces over 7,000 cubic yards of compost for use in the vineyard, increasing the sustainability of the overall operation. Keith Horn, vineyard manager, has been involved in numerous habitat enhancement projects on the property including the removal of several acres of vineyard along Lytton Creek to allow for restoration of riparian habitat. Clos du Bois is currently working on removal of large stands of the invasive non-native plant Arundo donax, or giant reed, from its riverfront and developing methods to create compost from the removed plant material. To recognize their outstanding land stewardship and innovation in both vineyard management practices and habitat restoration, Clos du Bois was named the 2003 Fish Friendly Farming Outstanding Land Steward of the Year in Sonoma County. In 2008, Clos du Bois also completed re-certification in the Fish Friendly Farming program. Visit www.closdubois.com.

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Native plants installed at Clos du Bois to increase the width of the Lytton Creek riparian corridor
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Clos Du Bois vineyard manager Keith Horn discusses control of invasive non-native Arundo donax along the Russian River

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Ferrari-Carano Vineyards and Winery—Upper and Lower Hocking Ranches, Stang Ranch
These sites are situated along the Russian River, where bank erosion is a common problem. Natural measures are used to control and stabilize the banks, and site managers are working to eradicate non-native plants such as Arundo donax from the river corridor and ditches. In 2003, Ferrari-Carano received an FFF award for Exceptional Actions and Dedication to Environmental Conservation. Visit www.ferrari-carano.com.

Other Ferrari-Carano Vineyards & Winery sites:
Estate Vineyard, Beckman Ranch, and Keegan Ranch in the Dry Creek Valley section
Magnolia Ranch and Storey Ranch in the Russian River Valley section

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Ferrari Carano has several vineyards adjacent to the Russian River in
Alexander Valley where they practice native plant
revegetation to address stream bank erosion

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Francis Ford Coppola Presents Rosso & Bianco Wines
The vineyards in this 38-acre site are managed by Lise Asimot using organic methods and cover crops to protect the soil and water quality. Visit www.rossobianco.com.

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Geyser Peak Winery—Ascentia Vineyard, BHR Vineyard, and Walking Tree Vineyard
These sites are all managed for soil and water conservation. Where invasive plants such as Arundo donax are present in creek corridors and ditches, the managers are taking steps to eradicate the plants and replace them with native species. Visit www.geyserpeakwinery.com.

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Geyser Peak Winery vineyards in 2008

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Winery in 1903

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Ridge Vineyards—Fredson Ranch, Whitton Ranch, and Lytton Estate West Ranch
These three Ridge Vineyard sites, totaling over 300 acres, are managed for soil and water conservation using selected cover crops and limited tillage. Fredson Ranch lies along a tributary of Lytton Creek, where vineyard manager Dave Gates has planted native riparian habitat to reduce erosion and flooding. Dave is also working to revegetate the creeks on the Lytton Estate West Ranch. In 2003, Ridge Vineyards received an FFF award recognizing Excellence in Water Quality Improvement and Protection. Visit www.ridgewine.com  

Other Ridge vineyards sites: Lytton Estate East Ranch in Dry Creek Valley section

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Rodney Strong Vineyards-Alexander’s Crown/Charlotte’s Home Vineyard, Brothers Vineyard, Bud’s Ranch, Alexander’s Crown/Charlotte’s Home Vineyard, Bud’s, Hubbard, Piccolo, and Pine Flat Ranches, totaling almost 400 acres, are being managed for soil and water conservation. Rockaway Ranch, a scenic site along the eastern hills of the Alexander Valley, encompasses 700 acres, including 125 acres of vineyards. No-till practices are used on these hillside vineyards to protect soil and enhance water quality. Rockaway Creek flows through the ranch and supports steelhead trout. A Fish Friendly Farming project to increase riparian or streamside habitat on Rockaway Creek was implemented in 2004. The landowners relocated a road and fence to create more habitat area for the project. Originally certified in 2003, Rockaway Ranch completed re-certification in the Fish Friendly Farming program in 2008. Wild Oak Ranch is 300 acres and lies along the northeastern edge of Alexander Valley, encompassing rolling hillsides and oak-lined creeks. Visit www.rodneystrong.com.

Other Rodney Strong sites: Bynum Vineyard/Front Gate/Backbone and and Chalk Hill Vineyard in the Santa Rosa section; Jane’s Vineyard in the Healdsburg section

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View of the Rockaway Creek watershed from Rockaway Ranch
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Rodney Strong Vineyards completed a restoration project on Rockaway Creek, a stream that supports steelhead trout
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Many Rodney Strong vineyards border the Russian River and are managed to protect water quality
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Winterization of the vineyard protects water quality in creeks

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Enrolled

Kathryn Hall Vineyards—T Bar T Ranch
This 425-acre ranch, of which only 40 acres are planted, straddles the foothills along the southeastern edge of Alexander Valley. A number of vineyards dot the hills, separated by creek corridors. Each vineyard is fenced individually to provide wildlife corridors across the property. Visit www.hallwines.com.

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Seasonal wetland in foreground was protected during vineyard development

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Cake Ranch
Cake Ranch borders the Russian River and has a wide riparian corridor. Non-native invasive Eucalyptus trees were removed from the corridor and native trees were planted.

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Cake Ranch borders the Russian River

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Hafner Vineyard
The Hafner family has grown winegrapes on this 220-acre site for over 20 years. Over half of the property is left in wildland or grazed lightly for fire management. Parke Hafner and vineyard manager Rafael Jimenez use integrated pest management (IPM) methods and cultivate under the vines to reduce or eliminate the use of pesticides and herbicides. In addition, Parke works with his neighbors to eradicate invasive non-native species such as blue periwinkle from Sausal Creek. Visit www.hafnervineyard.com.

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The Hafner family preserves their hillside property as wildland

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Seghesio Family Vineyards—Home Ranch
The Seghesio family began growing grapes on this 190-acre site in 1895. Peter Seghesio, great-grandson of Edoardo Seghesio who purchased the site, and vineyard manager Jim Neumiller are managing the family’s properties for soil and water conservation. Visit www.seghesio.com.


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Other Seghesio Family Vineyards site: San Lorenzo Ranch in the Healdsburg section

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Silverwood Ranch
Owner Barry Hoffner farms 47 acres on this 360-acre site on Pine Mountain above Cloverdale. Barry has kept the riparian corridor of his creeks in native vegetation, and keeps a thick cover crop on the vineyard roads and in the vineyards to maximize soil conservation. Visit www.silverwoodranch.net.

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View of Big Sulphur Creek from Silverwood Ranch

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Artesa Vineyards and Winery – Ridgeline Ranch
This 409-acre site includes the location fo the 19th century utopian community of Preston. Madame Emily Preston was the community founder and leaderof the church of Heaven on Probation. She was also a faith healer.  The 89 acres of vineyard on the site are carefully managed to conserve soil and use very low amounts of chemicals.

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