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 & 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 Family 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 live in the same home, on the same estate vineyard in the Sebastopol Hills where he grew up. In addition to making Kanzler wines and representing the winery at events and trade associations, Alex supervises farming operations for the family vineyards. “I never anticipated being a ‘towny,’ settling down to live in the same town and house where I grew up, says Alex. “But west Sonoma County is a truly special place. The vineyards here are world class. For a winemaker it doesn’t get any better than to get up every day and look out over the vines as they work the miracle of converting sun and soil into the grapes that will become our wine. I feel very lucky to live here and make wine here and it’s my privilege to share and preserve this place for the next generation.”