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Sanford Winery and Vineyards
Kathy Sullivan

Sanford Winery & VineyardsSummary: Sanford Winery & Vineyards has one of the oldest vineyards in the Sta. Rita Hills AVA. At the time of our visit in very early July the grapes were beginning to show veraison.

Sanford Winery & VineyardsFrom a distance, wine travelers to Sanford Winery & Vineyards will see the winery with its adobe walls and red tile roof sitting amid vineyards like a ship on the sea. Upon reaching the winery, visitors will see a veranda decorated with large, thriving plants. A beautifully maintained lawn with surrounding trees and shrubs adds to the experience. The tasting room at Sanford Winery & Vineyards is sophisticated and welcoming. The light wood counter contrasts nicely with the dark wood backdrop and display shelving in the room. Of course, the large fireplace and hanging tapestries add to the charm of the room. The high ceiling with roof windows, inset lights and a wrought iron chandelier add to the ambiance of the tasting room.


An old flatbed pickup truck stacked with barrels sits near the vineyards adding interest to the vineyard scene. Some of the grapevines are on the floor of the valley with rounded hills overlooking the vines. During our visit we noticed a wind machine in the vineyard near the winery. This added to the notion that this area can become quite cool. Sanford Winery & Vineyards began planting a Pinot Noir vineyard in 1971. Today the Sanford and Benedict Vineyard grape varieties include Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Viognier. The owners also have the Rancho La Rinconada Vineyard that was planted in 1997. This vineyard located 16 miles from the Pacific Ocean has breezy days with a chill in the air.

Sanford Winery & Vineyards

We met winemaker and general manager Steve Fennell who studied enology at the University of California at Davis. He has a quiet enthusiasm for vineyards and the winery. Steve likes to focus on one or two grape varieties. Steve noted that the vineyards have seven clones of the Pinot Noir variety.

Steve believes there is a good potential for producing outstanding sparkling wines in the Sta. Rita Hills AVA and is currently making a small batch of it. He noted that consumers in the region do not see sparkling wine as an everyday beverage and therefore there is not a large consumer demand for sparkling wines.

Sorting the grapes for wine is important and at Sanford, grapes are somewhat sorted in the vineyard with more sorting in the bins and again at the winery.

Sanford Winery & VineyardsSanford Winery & VineyardsWinery

The Sanford Winery has been built with handmade adobe blocks and reclaimed wood. The walls are adobe and are 30 inches thick. The temperature inside is at 55 to 65 degrees all year, without air conditioning or heating.

As we toured the winery with Steve, he pointed out two large stainless steel tanks that are on lifts. The tanks move vertically and are used to facilitate the gravity flow of the wine.

White Wines

We tasted several wines with Steve in the tasting room. Sauvignon Blanc 2012 Santa Ynez Valley AVA was a straw color. The aroma and taste offered tropical and yellow stone fruit especially pineapple and lime notes. The finish was crisp and fruity. Chardonnay La Rinconada Vineyard 2011, Sta. Rita Hills AVA was a light yellow wine. The aroma and taste offered notes of pear and citrus, with a touch of caramel and mineral. The crisp finish had fruit notes. Chardonnay 2009 La Rinconada Vineyard La Entrada bloc, Sta. Rita Hills AVA was a light yellow with aroma and taste notes of citrus and apple. The finish was crisp and fruity. Viognier 2010 Sanford & Benedict Vineyard, Sta. Rita Hills AVA offered floral and tropical fruit notes. The finish was crisp with tropical notes.

Sanford Winery & VineyardsSanford Winery & VineyardsRed Wines

Pinot Noir 2010 Sta. Rita Hills AVA was a blend from the two estate vineyards. The light ruby wine was translucent. The aroma and taste were of raspberries and licorice. The wine had mild tannins. The finish was crisp and fruity. Pinot Noir 2011 Sanford & Benedict Vineyard, Sta. Rita Hills AVA was a translucent ruby color. The aroma and taste offered raspberry, black cherry and a touch of leather. The wine had mild tannins. The finish was crisp with fruit. Pinot Noir 2011 La Rinconada Vineyard, Sta. Rita Hills AVA Vista Al Rio block was a translucent ruby with a pink tint. The aroma and taste were of red raspberries with earthy and mineral notes. The wine had mild tannins. The finish was crisp with spice and fruit.

Two Sanford wines were also tasted at a special Santa Barbara County wine tasting with Steven Spurrier.  The 2011 Chardonnay Sta. Rita Hills AVA was a dark yellow color with apple, pear and a hint of earthiness. Our group of wine tasters selected this Chardonnay as the best in the flight. We also tasted the 2001 Pinot Noir Sta. Rita Hills AVA. The wine was a ruby translucent color that offered raspberries with a slight oak influence. The wine had bold chewy tannins.

Wine Club

Members of the Sanford Winery & Vineyard Club receive shipments of wine four times a year. Several options are available. Choices include shipments of Pinot Noir only, white wine only or wines from designated vineyards.

Enjoy a visit to Sanford Winery. Plan to spend some time here taking in this beautiful spot.

Sanford Winery & Vineyards
5010 Santa Rosa Road
Lompoc, California 93436

GPS: N34º 36.595’ W120º 19.802’



Article written July 2014

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