Sanford Winery and Vineyard was founded in 1971 when the first Pinot Noir in Santa Barbara County was planted at Sanford and Benedict vineyard, Santa Rita Hills. In 1976 the first wine was released to the public and received great reviews.
A lot of things have changed over the years, and the winery now makes Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, and produces over 40,000 cases per year. The current winery facility is a huge handmade adobe construction, located at La Rinconada Vineyard, containing state of the art wine making equipment. Since 2005 the Terlato Family has the majority of ownership interest (they also own, among other wineries, Alderbrook, Chimney Rock and Rutherford Hill + other wineries around the world). Winemaker Steve Ferrell joined Sanford in 2006 after working at Trefethen Vineyards and Voss Vineyards.
The tasting room is an old, very rustic and charming, converted dairy barn on Rancho El Jabali. It is well worth the visit.
Sanford Tasting Room
Six wines were poured for tasting. The ones that stood out for me were the 2004 Santa Barbara County Chardonnay with some nice crisp apple and tropical fruit on the nose with a round palate not overwhelmed by oak, just making itself reminded in the back ground. Two Pinot Noir were poured, the 2005 Santa Rita Hills and the 2004 La Rinconada Vineyard. The 2005 Santa Rita Hills was indeed a very nice Pinot but when having the second (2004 La Rinconada) it was notably inferior, with not as complex and intense nose and palate. Still well worth to buy at $29. The 2004 La Rinconada Vineyard showed red cherries and vanilla oak on the nose with ripe berries and cherries on the palate sporting supple tannins and good acidity, providing a lingering finish. We really enjoyed this Pinot for $45 at the winery.
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