In 1968 Richard Sanford had visions of becoming a winemaker and by 1971 he and his partner Michael Benedict had found the perfect place to plant Pinot Noir in the Santa Rita Hills.
Sanford a Geologist and Benedict a Botanist had become friends while they both attended UCSB. They started out by studying the climates and terrior of Burgundy and Bordeaux France. Upon discovering the Nature of the west-east pathway of the valleys in the Santa Barbara County, the team found that these valleys climates greatly resemble those of France.
The far eastern portion of the Santa Ynez Valley, can reach temperatures as high as 105 in the summer, while the fog cooled western portion of the valley stays cool even in the summer rarely going above 85. After studying the micro climates in different parts of the valley, Sanford and Benedict chose a property that is 9 miles west of highway 101 on Santa Rosa road. In June of 2005 Steve Heimoff said in a Wine Enthusiast article that the Sanford-Benedict Vineyard is one of the 5 most important vineyards in the U.S. for Pinot Noir.
First planted in 1971 they are the first Pinot Noir vines planted in the county. The 68 acres of Pinot Noir and 52 acres of Chardonnay vines are currently undergoing a revitalization process. The Sanford Winery is reviewing all of the vines and replacing the week ones with better clones. In 1997 Sanford Winery planted 130 more acres of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay on their La Rinconada Vineyard, adjacent to the Sanford-Benedict Vineyard.
Today Sanford Winery is owned in full by the Terlatto family. Their winemaker Steve Fennel is proud to make wine from such prestigious vineyards. Many other reputable wineries source grapes from the Sanford property and the La Rinconada property including Au Bon Climat, Testarossa, Cold Haven Cellars, and Ken Brown Wines among others.
Meet Steve Fennel...