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In 1948, Ambassador James D. Zellerbach acquired 200 acres in the Mayacamas Mountains one mile
north of the Sonoma plaza. The Ambassador's ambition was to create a small vineyard and winery dedicated to the best traditions of Grand Cru Burgundy: Pinot Noir and Chardonnay of extraordinary quality and great longevity. The Zellerbachs planted 6 acres in 1953 (now the oldest Pinot Noir vineyard in America) and created the first vintage in 1957. They named their winery Hanzell, a contraction of Mrs. Hana Zellerbach's name, and embarked on what would become recognized as one of California's most enduring and historically important wine estates. The Zellerbachs' achievement passed to the Day family in 1965 and then in 1975 the de Brye family acquired the estate.
Alexander de Brye has presided over Hanzell for the longest period of Hanzell's considerable history and with his patronage the historical property and deep traditions of Hanzell have been honored, protected and promoted.
The original 6 acre vineyard has grown to 42 acres today, allowing Hanzell to produce 6,000 cases annually: three-quarters Chardonnay and one-quarter Pinot Noir. Through five decades Hanzell has pursued empirical winemaking and established traditions on which great cellar-worthy winemaking is predicated. The Hanzell wines honor Ambassador Zellerbach's vision and carry forward one of the greatest legacies of winemaking in the New World.