Alex Sokol Blosser takes over winemaking at Oregon winery

By on February 26, 2014

Alex Sokol Blosser is head winemaker for Sokol Blosser Winery. His sister, Alison, runs sales and marketing.

Alex and Alison Sokol Blosser, children of founders Bill Blosser and Susan Sokol Blosser, are co-presidents of the family winery in Oregon’s Dundee Hills. (Photo courtesy of Sokol Blosser Winery)

DAYTON, Ore. – For the first time in its long, pioneering history in the Oregon wine business, someone with the last name of Sokol Blosser is the head winemaker at Sokol Blosser Winery in the Dundee Hills.

Alex Sokol Blosser, son of Bill Blosser and Susan Sokol Blosser, was announced as head winemaker Tuesday. He succeeds Russ Rosner, who retired after 15 years as Sokol Blosser’s winemaker.

“About three years ago, Russ decided to retire,” Alex Sokol Blosser told Great Northwest Wine. “I said I would love to take on that responsibility. Russ, fortunately, gave us the opportunity to have a transition in winemaking.”

Alex, who took over the vineyard operations when his mother retired in 2006, now handles all production duties from pruning to bottling. He shared duties of running the winery with his sister Alison. He is director of wine growing, and she is director of sales and marketing.

“We get along famously,” he said. “Alison and I are very different people. Mom and I were so much alike that sometimes you can be blinded. It was fun working with my mom, but we always came to the same answers. But with my sister, we always have a much more dynamic discussion, which I think benefits the business.”

Sokol Blosser began in 1971

Russ Rosner has handed the winemaking reins to Alex Sokol Blosser.

Russ Rosner, longtime winemaker for Sokol Blosser, has retired. (Photo courtesy of Sokol Blosser Winery)

Sokol Blosser Winery is an 86-acre, organically farmed operation in the Dundee Hills in the northern Willamette Valley. Bill Blosser and Susan Sokol Blosser began growing grapes in 1971 and launched the winery in 1977. But they were never the winemakers.

Susan Sokol Blosser was the founder of Sokol Blosser Winery.

Susan Sokol Blosser ran the family winery in Oregon’s Dundee Hills for many years before retiring. (Photo courtesy of Sokol Blosser Winery)

“Mom and Dad didn’t start with winemaking knowledge,” Alex said. “But they took on the challenge of learning how to grow grapes.”

The Sokol Blossers went to Napa Valley and found Bob McRitchie, a veteran winemaker who was intrigued with the idea of making wine in Oregon. McRitchie was succeeded by John Haw, then Rosner took over in the 1990s.

Alex earned a degree in philosophy from Portland State University – “It helps me reflect on what makes a great Pinot Noir,” he said with a laugh – followed by an MBA. More recently, he earned a winemaking certificate from the University of California-Davis.

His mother, who ran the company, is pleased with the transition.

“This winery has been an integral part of our family and a labor of love,” Susan said. “Alex has long shared our passion for creating fine, elegant wines. We’re looking forward to enjoying the exceptional wines he will produce for many years to come.”

Sokol Blosser produces 72,000 cases of wine annually. Evolution, a line of affordable white, red and sparkling wines, makes up a large chunk of that production.

Alex Sokol Blosser worked on new Oregon AVAs

Dundee Hills American Viticultural Area is in the northern Willamette Valley in Oregon.

The Dundee Hills is in the northern Willamette Valley, the heart of Oregon wine country. (Photo by Andy Perdue/Great Northwest Wine)

Alex was a catalyst in getting six new American Viticultural Areas approved in the northern Willamette Valley. He began working on the project in 2002, and most of the six were approved by 2006. They are the Dundee Hills, Eola-Amity Hills, McMinnville, Yamhill-Carlton, Chehalem Mountains and Ribbon Ridge.

“I’m excited to embark on this next chapter of winemaking,” he said. “Russ’s tradition of excellence and innovation has taught me a lot over the years. With our experienced team, we are committed to producing world-class wines of elegance and balance with the fruit and acidity that express our vineyard.”

Joining Alex in the cellar are longtime senior assistant winemaker Doug Vuylsteke — whose parents founded Oak Knoll Winery in Hillsboro — and assistant winemaker Robin Hawley.

About Andy Perdue

Andy Perdue is the editor and publisher of Great Northwest Wine. He is a third-generation journalist who has worked at newspapers since the mid-1980s and has been writing about wine since 1998. He co-founded Wine Press Northwest magazine with Eric Degerman and served as its editor-in-chief for 15 years. He is a frequent judge at international wine competitions. He is the author of "The Northwest Wine Guide: A Buyer's Handbook" (Sasquatch, 2003) and has contributed to four other books. He writes about wine for The Seattle Times. You can find him on Twitter and .

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