The story and timeline of Sanford Winery and Vineyards parallels those of Santa Barbara wine country. In fact, Sanford was a pioneer in the Sta. Rita Hills, planting the first Pinot Noir vines in a region now heralded for that varietal.
That was 1971, and five years later, the winery released its first wine, startling critics with the quality of its inaugural release. With the 1976 vintage, Sanford gave the world its first taste of the great wines to come from the Sta. Rita Hills.
By 1981, Sanford had outgrown the converted hay barn that had served as its winery. It moved to larger, more modern facilities, previously operated by another producer.
Sanford Winery has an uncomplicated approach, focusing on nurturing the fruit in the vineyard, and minimizing handling throughout the winemaking process. That philosophy guided a continual improvement in quality, all while production has gradually increased.
In 1996, Sanford Winery found a vineyard site with soil qualities nearly identical to those in its Sanford & Benedict parcel, the site where it first planted Pinot. That year, it planted both Pinto Noir and Chardonnay at the La Rinconada vineyard.
Two years later, Sanford Winery helped lead efforts to certify the Sta. Rita Hills as an American Viticultural Area (AVA). In 2001, Sta. Rita Hills became an AVA. That same year, Sanford opened a new, state-of-the art winery at the La Rinconada site.
By 2002, Sanford Winery and Vineyards faced its next challenge: bringing its wines to a growing and more sophisticated market. To achieve that goal, the winery turned to Terlato Wines International, the leading marketer of luxury wines in the United States.
Owned by the Terlato family—Anthony and his sons Bill and John—Terlato was the perfect partner for Sanford. Anthony Terlato brought 50 years of experience in the wine business, having succeeded in every aspect of the industry. He and his sons represented the finest wines from the world’s most important regions. The Terlatos believed deeply in Sanford’s wines and in its future, and they took an ownership interest in 2002.
Since then, with Terlato’s expertise as a driving force, Sanford Winery’s reputation as a world-class producer has grown, and awareness of the Sanford brand has exploded. With the enormous success of Sideways, a 2004 Oscar winner, millions of filmgoers discovered Sanford along with the movie’s lead characters, who made Sanford Winery their first stop on their Santa Barbara wine country tour.
In 2005, the Terlato Family assumed a majority ownership interest in Sanford Winery, laying the groundwork for a future every bit as successful as its past.