In Santa Barbara wine country, it all started with Sanford.
In 1971 Sanford Winery and Vineyards discovered an overlooked, grape-growing treasure in the Sta. Rita Hills. Recognizing a magical combination of climate and soil conditions much like those in France’s famed Burgundy province, Sanford planted the area’s first Pinot Noir in its Sanford & Benedict vineyard.
Pinot Noir has thrived in the Sta. Rita Hills ever since, and so has Sanford Winery. The pioneering winery’s Pinot Noir ranks among the best and most distinctive in the world. And Sanford’s leadership helped put Santa Barbara and the Sta. Rita Hills on the map of the world’s great wine regions. Certified as an American Viticultural Area (AVA) in 2001, today the area is renowned for its Chardonnay as well as Pinot Noir.
The Sta. Rita Hills AVA is 100 square miles of heaven for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, and Sanford’s estate vineyards – Rancho La Rinconada and Sanford & Benedict – lie within it. Sanford relies exclusively on these vineyards for its luscious, signature Pinots.
The area owes its magic to an unusual east-west mountain valley that runs from the vineyards to the Pacific Ocean. This passage allows a meteorological ebb-and-flow between the mountains and the sea that is ideal for cool-climate varietals.
Each summer morning, a heavy Pacific fog moves eastward through the valley, holding morning temperatures in the 50’s and 60’s. By mid-morning, heat from the mountains pushes the marine layer back out to sea, warming the valley into the 70's and 80's.
In the early afternoon, the balance tips again, and a cooling breeze blows inland from the Pacific. By sunset, temperatures cool to the 60's. Low summer rainfall and rare frosts yield a cool growing season that lasts 30 - 45 days longer than most other California grape-growing regions. And Santa Rita’s soils are light and well draining.
Sanford Winery’s estate vineyards get the full benefit of these remarkable conditions:
The Sanford & Benedict parcel is the area’s oldest Pinot Noir vineyard. Its fruit produces the classically Burgundian Sanford Pinot Noir-Sanford & Benedict. Wonderfully aromatic, its flavors are plush yet structured, with lively acidity and ripe tannins.
The Rancho La Rinconada vineyard sits adjacent to the Sanford & Benedict plot and shares nearly identical characteristics. La Rinconada, though, is planted with Dijon Pinot Noir clones and the resulting Sanford Pinot Noir-La Rinconada exhibits an expansive richness—enough to complement meat and game dishes—rarely found in a Pinot.
Sanford Pinot Noir-Santa Barbara showcases grapes from the Sanford & Benedict, La Rinconada and nearby vineyards. Sanford’s flagship Pinot, this wine compares favorably with domestic Pinot Noirs and Burgundies at twice the price.
Sanford Winery’s Sta. Rita Hills vineyards also produce the spectacular Chardonnay grapes for Sanford’s benchmark white wines: Sanford Chardonnay-Santa Barbara, Sanford Chardonnay-La Rinconada and Sanford Pinot Grigio-Santa Barbara.
Anthony Terlato and his sons Bill and John hold majority ownership of Sanford Vineyard and Winery. For a half-century, the Terlatos have succeeded in all facets of the luxury wine industry by following a simple principle: Always put quality first, because quality is the only thing that endures. At Sanford, that commitment to quality goes into every bottle.
Under the direction of Doug Fletcher, Vice President of Winemaking for Terlato Wine Group, Sanford maintains low yields to nurture the lush fruit. To retain the intensity and integrity of the Sta. Rita Hills fruit, Fletcher’s team uses a unique gravity racking system. Powerful hydraulic lifts raise and lower vats, minimizing handling and preserving the esters that give Sanford’s wines complexity and delicacy.
Sanford’s white wine fermentation takes place in both 60 gallon French oak barrels and stainless steel tanks, while the Pinot Noir is fermented in open-top stainless steel tanks and then finished in French oak barrels. Crafted in small lots, Sanford wines have a consistent style: Their full-bodied fruit flavors are balanced by mouth-watering acidity.
Above all, they are created to enrich the dining experience, crafted to enhance and complement every meal.