Acorn Winery

Acorn Winery 2016


At ACORN Winery our passion is traditional field-blended wines. Our food-friendly wines fully express the fruit characteristics of the diverse grape varieties we grow at our Alegría Vineyards in Sonoma County’s Russian River Valley.

Location Description

We are located just south of Healdsburg, California in Sonoma County's Russian River Valley.


Fax: 707-433-7641


  • Every ACORN wine is a field blend.

Additional Information

  • Meeting / Conference Facilities:
  • Caves:
  • Wedding Facilities:
  • Picnic Facilities:
  • Dog Friendly:
  • Winery Tours:
  • Wine Tasting:
  • Art or Architecture:
  • Organic / Biodynamic:
  • Awards:
  • Wine Club:
  • Lodging / Bed & Breakfast:

Average Bottle Price

$ 35


Bill works closely with our consulting winemaker Clay Mauritson to ensure that the flavors of Alegría Vineyards are fully expressed in each wine. A key to our winemaking style is the judicious use of new oak to complement, but not overwhelm, the wines.


Bill traded in his law books for books on viticulture, pruning shears, and a tractor when we purchased Alegría Vineyards in 1990. In the early years, he was in the vineyards every day, and Betsy helped out on weekends, but within a few years she too was ready for a change and joined Bill full time.

At first, we sold all of our grapes to other wineries, and they produced highly prized Alegría Vineyard-designated wines. Then in 1994, we decided to make some wine ourselves and established ACORN Winery. Our first release, in 1996, was our 1994 Sangiovese.

Gradually, we kept more grapes for ACORN and added other wines. Now we make seven different wines—Russian River Valley Heritage Vines Zinfandel from the original 1890s vineyard, Russian River Valley "Axiom" Syrah, Russian River Valley Cabernet Franc, Russian River Valley Sangiovese, Russian River Valley Dolcetto, two proprietary blends—Medley and Acorn Hill, and a flavorful Rosato (a dry Rosé). We still sell half our grapes to other wineries. Several of them vineyard-designate the wines*.

Our production remains small, at about 3,000 cases each year. All our wines are made from grapes we grow ourselves at Alegría. Every wine is a field blend, following the ancient tradition represented in the mixed planting that is our original 120-year old vineyard. Every wine is made by co-fermenting multiple varieties. We like to say that our wines are blended from the day they are picked. This is what sets ACORN wines apart.

Today, after 22 years, we continue to find alegría living in the middle of our vineyards, enjoying the cool Russian River Valley climate, and continuing a long tradition by sustainably growing premium quality grapes and producing acclaimed award-winning wines.

Practices & Techniques

We treasure Alegría Vineyards, and feel that we are the stewards of a tradition created by generations of wine growers. To preserve the vineyards into the future, we treat the vineyard as an ecological system with a balance among the grapevines and all the creatures that live here, including ourselves. The vineyards are home to numerous animals and birds that we enjoy. We live and work in the middle of the vineyards, so we consider our own health as well as the vines.
We have always farmed sustainably. Our practice is to avoid the use of insecticides and limit other inputs through a labor-intensive process that requires individual attention to each vine. Most vineyard work is done by hand. We remove leaves and manipulate the vine canopy to expose the grapes to sunlight. This maximizes color and flavor development and reduces the risk of pests.

During the growing season each vine is visited a dozen times (for pruning, tying, training, suckering, leaf removal, crop thinning, trimming, etc.) to ensure the crop is in balance and the harvest will produce flavorful, complex wines.

We use products and methods that organic growers use, although we are not officially certified organic. We use compost and organic fertilizers. We maintain a cover crop of grass, wildflowers, and weeds between the grapevines to prevent erosion and provide habitat for beneficial insects. We monitor to be sure "good bugs" are there to control the "bad bugs". In our 19 years here, we have never had to spray to control insects. The vineyards may look more scruffy than some, but that's because there is more life there.

No vineyard is an island, of course, and we are subject to influences outside the vineyards from phenomena as big as global warming or as small as an exotic pest that might blow in on the wind from a passing truckload of landscape plants. Watching for such pests is part of our monitoring program. By sustainably farming our vineyards, we hope to ensure that the vines and the surrounding environment will be a healthy place for the next generation.

Estate Vineyards / AVA

Our vineyard was planted by a family named Brumfield that came from Virginia in 1857. In vineyard censuses done in the 1880s, the Brumfields reported they were growing Zinfandel and Mission. When we bought the vineyard, there were still a couple of Mission vines near the old house, which is no longer part of our property. Of course, “Zinfandel” meant Zinfandel plus other complementary varieties. The Sangiovese in our vineyard was added 60 years ago, in 1950, by A. Raffanelli, who owned the vineyard at that time.

The Heritage Vines Zinfandel blocks are a mixed planting that is 78% Zinfandel, 10% Petite Sirah, & 10% Alicante Bouschet. The remaining 2% includes Carignane, Trousseau, Sangiovese, Petit Bouschet, Negrette, Syrah, Plavic Mali, Tannat, Muscat Noir, Peloursin, Beclan, Mataro, Cinsaut, Grenache, and a few white grapes: Palomino and Monbadon. We believe that the mix of inter-planted varieties evolved over the years. As a vine died and was replaced, it wasn’t necessarily replaced with the same variety. Our particular mix of varietals is unique.

The different varieties are inter-planted, and each block in the vineyard has a different mix. We pick all the varieties in a block together and co-ferment them, so they are blended from the day they are picked. After we bought the property in 1990, and after we identified and inventoried the existing vines (using an ampelography book), we planted the adjacent pasture land to grapes. Part of the reason we planted Syrah and Sangiovese was that we could see that they were already thriving in the old vineyard.

Inspired by the tradition of old field blend wines, we decided that all our other wines would be field blends as well. Our Russian River Valley Sangiovese includes some Canaiolo and Mammolo; our Dolcetto includes some Barbera and Freisa; our Cabernet Franc includes some Merlot, Petit Verdot, and Cabernet Sauvignon; our Syrah includes Viognier. We’ve also created two other field blends (actually a blend of field blends). One we call Medley, which varies year-to-year but always includes Cinsaut, several black, red, and white muscats, and Viognier blended with some of the major varieties we grow. The other is Acorn Hill, and is a blend of the varieties that grow in our Acorn Hill blocks. Although it varies from year to year, our Sangiovese and Syrah field blends have been consistent components.

Planting a mixture of vines/varietals was standard practice in the 19th century. Also, a certain amount of the mixing might have happened by mistake. When Alicante Bouschet was first released (mid 1870s) it was so popular and in such short supply that you could only buy it mixed with Petit Bouschet.

Alegría Vineyards is registerd by the Historic Vineyard Society.

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12040 Old Redwood Highway
Healdsburg, California 95448
United States

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