Santa Barbara County region
Inspired by the principles of organic farming and sustainable agriculture.
Inspired by the principles of organic farming and sustainable agriculture, Alma Rosa Vineyards and Winery honors the undeniable relationship between the healthiness of the soil, the energy of the vines, and ultimately, the soul of the wine.
Growing up along the southern California coast, co-founder Richard Sanford has always had a love for the environment and the great outdoors. From working as a bean field tractor driver to immersing himself in outdoor sports growing up, Sanford’s introduction to agriculture and his early connection with nature instilled in him a sense of responsibility and respect for the land.
After studying geography at the University of California Berkeley, Sanford was drafted into the military and became a naval officer serving in Vietnam for four years. His experience overseas left him with a desire to work in a peaceful, natural environment when he returned home. Thus began Sanford’s passion for the alluring science of sustainable winegrowing.
Using his background in geography, Sanford studied the regions and climates of California, and discovered the remarkable east west running transverse mountain range in the Santa Rita Hills area of Santa Barbara County. Here is where he planted the first Pinot Noir vineyard in the region and began his now well-established reputation for excellence in winemaking.
In 1978 Sanford married equal nature-loving wife, Thekla, and the two went on to start Sanford Winery where they produced award-winning wines for 27 years. Differences in business philosophy led to a separation from their namesake winery in 2005 and the two embarked on a path they were truly passionate about: a winery dedicated to organic farming and sustainable agriculture.
Alma Rosa Winery and Vineyards was founded shortly there after and has been the Sanfords’ opportunity to share their commitment to the environment. “My wife Thekla and I are focusing on what’s most important to us; organic grape growing and sustainable business practices,” Richard explained.
Their 100 acres of certified organic vineyards at Alma Rosa are located on an original Mexican land grant by the name of Rancho Santa Rosa. Honoring the historic significance of the land through the name of the winery, the Spanish word for soul is Alma, so the name Alma Rosa portrays the Sanfords’ view that their wines are reflecting the “soul” of the original Rancho.
Alma Rosa Winery and Vineyards focuses on handcrafting both blended and vineyard-designated Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs from the organic vineyards within the Santa Rita Hills Appellation. The two primary vineyards, Rancho El Jabalí and La Encantada, were actually the first in Santa Barbara County to be named certified organic by the California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF) in 2000.
Since Alma Rosa first released its wines in 2006, the winery has not only gained remarkable recognition for its dedication to the environment, but its wines are continuing to make headlines as well. The 2006 vintage proved to be an outstanding release, with multiple 93+ Point ratings and medal winning wines among the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay portfolios.
Winemaker Christian Roguenant brings his Burgundian heritage and extensive winemaking experience to the table and stops at nothing to express the region’s unique terroir in each wine he crafts.
To keep up with strict sustainable farming practices, the Alma Rosa team does away with any chemical herbicides and chooses only fertilizers with synthetic ingredients. Although it’s not the easiest or least expensive way to farm, the Sanfords believe it is the right thing to do – “to live in a way where nature and agriculture work together in sustainable harmony.”
As Thekla explains, “The future for us is to build on what we’ve learned. Through the years we’ve tried to do everything in a green way and will continue working toward a business which is greener and more sustainable. This new venture is an opportunity for us to become even more committed to the environment and to share what we’ve learned with others.”
The winery has even turned to ecologically friendly packaging, utilizing uniformly sized wine bottles to eliminate production waste and recyclable twist-off enclosures rather than corks.
Truly an inspiration to the public eye and wineries alike, Richard and Thekla Sanford are energized and excited about their new venture, just as we’re excited to feature this special selection in the Pinot Noir Series.
About the Vineyard:
Alma Rosa’s 2006 Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir was produced from the winery’s two certified organic vineyards: Rancho El Jabalí and La Encantada. Situated in the western end of the Santa Ynez Valley within the Santa Rita Hills Appellation, the vineyards are among the coolest sites in the region.
The well drained, ‘clay-loam’ soils of the vineyards are derived from sedimentary marine deposits nearly 35 million years old, and make for an extremely desirable base for grape growing. Paired with the region’s cool climate, a long growing season is allowed and a vibrant acidity is achieved in the harvested grapes.
A relatively small appellation of approximately 100 square miles, the Santa Rita Hills Appellation was recognized as an official “American Viticultural Area” (AVA) in May of 2001 and has since been turning out some of California’s most exciting Pinot Noirs, Chardonnays, and other varietals.
Winemaker Christian Roguenant
Burgundian born and trained, Christian Roguenant is one of the most seasoned winemakers in California. Having grown up among the vineyards, Roguenant decided early on he wanted to become a winemaker and went on to study at the University of Dijon where he learned to make wine using time-honored traditional methods earned a prominent degree in Enology.
Roguenant’s instiable thirst for knowledge lead him to delve into graduate study where he picked up a Certificate of Marketing for Wine and Spirits before working fifteen years with Champagne Deutz, one of the premier Champagne houses in France. His education served him well as went on to travel the world and make wine on five continents.
Named ‘Winemaker to Watch’ by Wine Spectator magazine in 1997, Roguenant has become one of the most influential Burgundian winemakers in the United States and his Pinot Noirs have been honored as ‘world-class efforts.”