The Story & History

Just outside of Healdsburg on Hwy 128 in the heart of Alexander Valley is where you would have found Sausal Winery, a small family-owned winery that produced award-winning wine. Owned by the Demostene Family, Sausal Winery consistently produces premium estate-bottled Old Vine Zinfandels (Family Zinfandel, Private Reserve Zinfandel, and Century Vine Zinfandel), Estate Sangiovese, and Estate Cabernet at reasonable prices.

The Demostene family history reads like a short course in the history of the Alexander Valley from the turn of the century. In 1901, Manuel Demostene, a native of Genoa Italy, began work on a ranch in the Valley. Soon thereafter, another Italian immigrant Abele Ferrari (pictured left) accepted work at Italian Swiss Colony in nearby Asti.

A mechanical whiz, Ferrari soon purchased the Healdsburg Machine Shop and began manufacturing winemaking equipment. Most notable was the Healdsburg Crusher for which he held 11 patents. During prohibition, Abele's business faltered along with all other wine-related industries.

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Abele never lost faith and in 1923, after a steady decline in property values, he seized the opportunity to purchase Soda Rock Ranch and Winery in the Alexander Valley. After the repeal of Prohibition in 1933, the enterprising Abele Ferrari completely rebuilt the old stone winery using recycled materials.

Leo Demostene....  Romance brought the first two generations of Italian immigrants together. In 1936, Manuel Demostene's son, Leo married Abele Ferrari's daughter, Rose. The young couple established their new home at Soda Rock Winery where Leo took over duties as winemaker.

Leo's dream was to have a winery of his own one day and in 1956 Leo and Rose took the first step by purchasing Sausal Ranch. A 125 acre property planted to prunes, apples and zinfandel wine
grapes. Many of the original vines were quite old and clearly established prior to the publication of an 1877 atlas of the area.

For old-timers like Leo it was a simple fact of life that the Alexander Valley was best suited for growing red wine grapes. With the help of his four children - Dave, Ed, Peachie and Cindy, scores of acres of new zinfandel and cabernet sauvignon plantings were installed over the next decade. During this time the entire family continued to help their grandfather at Soda Rock Winery aware that the knowledge gained there would be of real benefit someday.

Leo's dreams of converting an old prune dehydrator into a winemaking facility at Sausal Ranch were not realized before his death in 1973. That same year, however, after a remarkable effort from his children Leo's sogni d'oro, his "golden dream", was fulfilled.

This brings us to the third, and final, generation of this winemaking family. Dave, Ed, Peachie and Cindy turned their father's dream into a reality.