Alex was fortunate to spend his childhood growing up among the idyllic vineyards and apple orchards of western Sonoma County. But when he headed off to the University of Colorado, Boulder after graduating from Sebastopol’s Analy High School, he didn’t really envision a career in the wine business. “I spent a lot of time in vineyards growing up,” says Alex, who worked summers as a field hand in the vineyard crew that tended his family’s Pinot Noir vineyard. “I learned how to plant and care for vines, but I wanted something different at the time.” At school he majored in history and sociology and planned to be a teacher, but after graduation he quickly discovered that winemaking – and specifically Pinot Noir – was his passion. “My first harvest at Landmark Vineyards was just a way to earn some money, but it only took a few weeks of being in the winery before I was hooked.”
After Landmark, Alex was off to New Zealand to work the 2009 southern hemisphere harvest, landing in Central Otago with Pinot Noir specialist Carrick Wines. Next he traveled to Willamette Valley in Oregon to work the fall 2009 harvest with stellar Pinot Noir producer Domaine Serene. Returning to Sonoma County in 2010, Alex continued his career path by working in tasting rooms, studying viticulture and enology at Santa Rosa Junior College, and completing a final internship under Shane Finley at Kosta-Browne Winery and Jemrose Vineyards. In 2011, Alex began working as a cellar assistant at Vinify Wine Services. While at Vinify, he was promoted to Assistant Winemaker of Jemrose, where he worked with winemaker Russell Bevan. Later that year, having worked hard, studied diligently, and learned his craft from some great mentors, his parents Stephen and Lynda were thrilled when Alex assumed the reins as winemaker for Kanzler Vineyards.
Meanwhile, Alex continued working outside the family business. In 2012 he was lured to VML Russian River Winery by founder and Winemaker Virginia Lambrix to be their cellarmaster. Over the next two and a half years Alex and Ginny teamed up to craft VML wines as well as the wines of publically traded wine company Truett Hurst. During his time at VML, Alex progressed from Cellar Master to Assistant Winemaker to Associate Winemaker. In August 2014, Alex resigned from VML/Truett Hurst to focus exclusively on the family business.
Today, Alex and his wife Breauna spend much of their time on the estate vineyard in the Sebastopol Hills where he grew up—Alex supervising farming, and Breauna overseeing the overnight Farm Stay experience, vineyard walks, and private tastings. “West Sonoma County is a truly special place,” says Alex. “The vineyards here are world class.”