Our Team

 

Bob and Barb Zorich
Owners

 

Bob and Barb Zorich both graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara, in 1971 and eventually raised their family in Houston, Texas, where Bob helped found and build a successful private equity company, EnCap Investments L.P.  Never losing their affection for their college town, they eventually returned to buy a second residence in Santa Barbara. 

In 2013 the Zorichs met Richard and Thekla Sanford, who were seeking financial support to move Alma Rosa Winery to another level.  A fondness for the region and its wines led Bob and Barb to acquire the 650-acre Alma Rosa Ranch and the Alma Rosa Winery.  The Zorichs and Sanfords then began expanding the vineyards at Alma Rosa to create one of the finest vineyard estates in the region. 

The Alma Rosa estate vineyard, El Jabali, is certified organic and has been farmed organically since the Sanfords planted it in 1983.  Alma Rosa Winery is commited to the most natural farming and winemaking practices to create the highest quality wines.

Richard Sanford
Founder

Richard Sanford graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, with a degree in Geography in 1965 and served as a naval officer in Vietnam from 1965 to 1968.

Richard dreamed of discovering a local climate zone similar to the Burgundy region of France, growing Pinot Noir in California, and producing wine that would rival the best in the world.  Using his background in geography and studying the climates of California since 1900, Richard identified a remarkable geographic anomaly: the transverse mountain range of California where the valleys open to the west, allowing cool maritime air to moderate the growing climate.

After locating acreage with well-drained soils in the chosen climate zone, Richard organized a partnership to purchase a ranch, and there he planted the first Pinot Noir vineyard in the region, establishing Sanford & Benedict Vineyard in 1971.

In 1976 Richard met his future wife, Thekla Brumder, just in time for the first vintage at Sanford & Benedict Vineyard.  They were married in 1978, and in 1981 they founded Sanford Winery, which–for the next 25 years–produced award-winning wines that were sold throughout the world.

In 1983 the Sanfords planted their first 100% organic vineyard, named El Jabali, on what is now the Alma Rosa Ranch.  El Jabalí and La Encantada vineyards, both planted by Richard, were the first in Santa Barbara County to be certified organic.

In 2005, Richard and Thekla began their third venture, Alma Rosa Winery & Vineyards, and continued their personal commitment to organic farming and sustainable business practices.

Alex Neal
Director of Guest Experience

A native of Paso Robles California, Alex joined Alma Rosa after managing the tasting room team at JUSTIN Vineyard and Winery, 2015’s Wine Star Award Winner - American Winery of the Year.  Alex has studied Biology at the University of Maryland and is a Veteran of the U.S. Army, where he studied medicine. A jack of all trades, Alex has had the chance to travel the globe developing his skills in marketing, training, operational management and hospitality. 

During his career he has served proudly as goodwill ambassador while enlisted in the Army, representing his country both in the United States and abroad. He has also had the opportunity to work for both nonprofit companies as well as those listed in the fortune 500. He looks forward to sharing his passion for wine and customer service with you through our experiences at Alma Rosa.  

Nick de Luca
Winemaker

Nick de Luca studied International Law at the Universite de Poitiers in France and later graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz.  He became the Alma Rosa winemaker in 2014, after spending seven vintages as Director of Vineyards and Winemaking at Dierberg & Star Lane Vineyards in the Santa Ynez Valley.

de Luca is a viticulturist with a strong commitment to sustainable vineyard and cellar practices. He has also held posts at Byington Vineyard & Winery in the Santa Cruz Mountains, Williams Selyem Winery in Healdsburg, CA, Fisher Vineyards in Santa Rosa, CA, Highfield Estate in Marlborough, New Zealand, and Cline Cellars in Sonoma, CA. 

Martin Hernandez
Vineyard Manager

Martin arrived from his native Mexico in 1968. He told his parents he was coming to the US to purchase a saddle for his horse, but the trip took new directions. He eventually travelled north to meet a cousin and get a job in farming.

Martin got his first vineyard job at Sanford & Benedict Vineyard in 1975 and worked and lived on that vineyard for over 30 years. In 2014, Richard hired Martin once again to run Alma Rosa’s small vineyard crew. Richard and Martin’s working relationship has yielded fantastic wines for over 38 years.