The Sta. Rita Hills is a small appellation in the western portion of the Santa Ynez Valley, located close to the Pacific Ocean. Cool-weather grape varieties dominate this region with 78% of the vineyards planted to Pinot Noir and 20% to Chardonnay.
Nearly half a century ago, when bean fields and flower farms dominated the local landscape, Alma Rosa founder Richard Sanford arrived in the Sta. Rita Hills in search of a special place to grow Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, the exalted grapes of Burgundy.
In 1971, after locating acreage with well-drained soils, Richard organized a partnership with a sailing buddy and a small group of investors to establish a pioneering vineyard, Sanford & Benedict. Five years later, Richard released his first wine to great acclaim, and in 1981 he started Sanford Winery with his wife Thekla.
In 1983, the Sanfords planted their first 100% organic vineyard, named El Jabali, at the Alma Rosa Ranch, and in 2005, the Sanfords founded Alma Rosa Winery & Vineyards, their third winery venture.
In 2013, Bob and Barb Zorich purchased Alma Rosa, keeping Richard on board to take the winery and its wines to new levels.