Respect and appreciation for its employees
is one of the founding principles of Alma Rosa Winery & Vineyards.
Most staff members are longtime residents of the Santa Ynez Valley
with deep connections to the community and the wine industry.
Let us introduce you…
Sanford – Founder and Production Manager
Growing up in the early 1940’s along the southern California
coast Richard developed a love for the ocean, nature, and wide open
spaces. His first job driving a tractor through the Palos Verdes
bean fields provided an early introduction to agriculture and established
a firm connection to the cycles of nature and the responsibility
associated with being a good steward of the land.
During his college years at UC Santa Barbara and UC Berkeley Richard
developed a passion for flying, sailing and yacht racing. Upon graduation
he was drafted into the military and became a naval officer serving
in Viet Nam from 1965 to 1968. The Viet Nam tours introduced him
to the study of eastern philosophy and left him with a desire to
work in a peaceful, natural environment when he returned home.
Winegrowing is the natural extension of Richard’s lifelong
interest in agriculture and the environment. In 1970 he planted the
first Pinot Noir vineyard in the region at Sanford & Benedict
Vineyard, and as others followed he helped to establish the area
now known as the Sta. Rita Hills American Viticultural Area.
In 1976 Richard met his future wife Thekla Brumder, and in 1981
the two of them started Sanford Winery. Differences in business philosophy
led to a separation from their namesake winery in 2005, and a decision
to found the Alma Rosa Winery & Vineyards. As Richard explains, “My
wife Thekla and I are focusing on what’s most important to
us; organic grape growing and sustainable business practices.”
Richard was founding chairman of the Sta. Rita Hills Wine Growers
Alliance, the group responsible for obtaining formal designation
of the Sta. Rita Hills appellation. He is co-founder of the American
Institute of Wine and Food and is active with the Santa Barbara Museum
of Art and the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History.
Richard and his wife Thekla live in the Santa Ynez Valley at Rancho
El Jabalí. Their daughter Blakeney was born in 1979.
Sanford - Founder
Being integrated with nature's rhythms has been a part of Thekla
Sanford since she was raised on a lake in the "Kettle Moraine" area,
west of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. As a young girl she spent most of her
time outside in nature, taking advantage of nature's seasonal offerings.
In winter she would enjoy snow's beauty while ice skating and skiing;
in spring she would explore the woods while watching mayflowers and
trillums pop up from under winter's leafy blanket; in summer she
would wander the barnyard (even before she knew about the barnyard "bouquet " of
Pinot Noirs) of her grandparents' dairy farm finding newly laid warm
chicken eggs and picking the fresh vegetables of their organic garden;
and in fall she would find her favorite maple tree with its fiery
orange autumn look and do her homework under its branches in the
Indian summer warmth.
Thekla's teen years took her to the east coast to The Westover School in Connecticut,
then on to the University of Arizona in Tucson where she graduated with a BFA
in Art History while minoring in Spanish and Italian. Those years gave her
the opportunity to appreciate the beauty of the Sonoran desert environment.
In her twenties Thekla's love of being in nature was satisfied by her many
backpacking/flyfishing treks into the Colorado Rockies where she lived for
In 1976 Thekla moved to Santa Barbara, California where she met Richard while
sailing. Richard was preparing for his first vintage of Sanford & Benedict
wines. Their mutual interest in the land, agriculture, and the interconnection
of all natural systems brought them together. They were married in 1978 in
Cholula, Puebla,Mexico. Their daughter, Blakeney, was born in 1979.
Thekla and Richard's love for Mexico has taken the family to the major folk
art areas of the country where they began collecting art in the early 80's.
They have also traveled extensively to the spiritual centers of the Mayan and
Thekla believes in being integrated with nature and attuned to its natural
rhythms, as evidenced by her deep commitment to organic farming of the estate
vineyards that she and Richard have maintained for the past 23 years. Their
El Jabalí vineyard was the first CCOF certified vineyard in Santa Barbara
County 8 years ago. Alma Rosa Winery & Vineyards is the culmination of
all the wisdom they have accumulated over the past 30 years in the wine agriculture
of Santa Barbara County, California (the Sta. Rita Hills AVA).
Their commitment to sustainable/organic grape growing and sustainable business
practices is deeper than it has ever been. "I feel that the essential
interconnection between we humans and our god-given natural environment is
the only way we can find personal peace and thus, world peace."
Managed by Jeff Newton and supervised by Martin
Hernandez (the ranch foreman who has worked with Richard Sanford
for more than 30 years), the staff responsible for maintaining the
El Jabalí and La Encantada vineyards are an integral part
of the Alma Rosa Winery & Vineyards family. The quality of our
grapes and the character of our wines directly reflect the passion
and care they devote to their work.
Visit our tasting room to meet the winery staff. They work hard
behind the counter and behind the scenes to ensure your every experience
with Alma Rosa Winery & Vineyards reflects our philosophy of
fine wine enjoyed in a casual, comfortable environment.
And if you’re lucky Chris Burroughs will be pouring and you
can inquire about his experience guest starring in Sideways, the
Fox Searchlight movie about the adventures of two old friends on
a wine-tasting road trip.