Nature & Agriculture
In Sustainable Harmony
Thekla and Richard Sanford share a deep and long standing commitment
to the environment. This commitment is evident in their active participation
in multiple conservation groups, and was formally recognized when
they were honored by the Environmental Defense Center as Environmental
They founded Alma Rosa Winery & Vineyards as an expression of
their passion for winemaking and with a desire to develop a business
that reflected their core values. As a result Alma Rosa Winery & Vineyards
operates as an enlightened enterprise, with a focus on quality, environmental
responsibility, and respect for customers and employees alike.
Alma Rosa Winery & Vineyards practices and promotes organic
farming, sustainable agriculture, ecologically-responsible
packaging and business practices, and green
building. In addition it supports related earth-friendly causes
such as the reintroduction of peregrine falcons to
the Santa Ynez Valley and the international slow
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.”
Alma Rosa Winery & Vineyards maintains over 100 acres of organic
vineyards in the Sta. Rita Hills AVA. The El Jabalí vineyard,
planted in 1983, and the La Encantada vineyard, planted in 2000,
have been farmed organically since planted and were the first in
Santa Barbara County to be certified organic by the California Certified
Organic Farmers (CCOF) (September 21, 1999)
All vineyard-designated wines are produced from the estate organic
grapes. Additional grapes are purchased as needed for the primary
wines with preference given to vineyards that use similarly responsible
Rosa Winery & Vineyards employs only sustainable farming practices,
which include mechanical weed control by plowing and hand hoeing,
the planting of cover crops for weed abatement, and the use of beneficial
insects and sticky tape for insect control. No chemical herbicides
or pesticides are used. Operating without conventional pesticides
or fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients is not the easiest
or least expensive way to farm, but the Sanfords believe it is the
right thing to do - to live in a way where nature and agriculture
work together in sustainable harmony.
Sustainable agriculture integrates three main goals--environmental
health, economic profitability, and social and economic equity. Practical
application of these goals was the founding concept for Alma Rosa
Winery & Vineyards. Richard and Thekla Sanford see this new beginning
as an opportunity to honor the unmistakable relationship between
the healthiness of the soil, the energy of the vines, and ultimately
the soul of the wine.
“My wife Thekla and I are focusing on what’s most important
to us. Sustainability is key and we are very much committed to the
environment and the soulful connection with our employees and the
people who enjoy our wine.” says Richard.
With a vision for a viable agricultural future, and an environment
that is safe for our children, Richard and Thekla and the staff at
Alma Rosa Winery & Vineyards hope to continue to bring people
together to share good food, good times and great wine.
Packaging & Business Practices
At Alma Rosa Winery & Vineyards all of the packaging and promotional
materials used are selected with careful consideration of their environmental
All bottles, red and white wine alike, are of uniform size and shape
to eliminate production waste. Traditional corks have been replaced
with twist off closures to eliminate the mustiness imparted by bad
stationery and promotional materials are natural and recyclable.
We use kraft, natural corrugated (rather than bleached and multi
colored) material in our shipping containers. We use only chemical-free
cleaning products. Electronic commerce and email communication are
promoted as earth-friendly alternatives to excessive reliance on
The Sanfords’ interest in green building spans decades. While
working at his namesake winery in 1999 Richard Sanford realized his
dream by designing and overseeing the building of a Mission-style,
adobe winery using sustainable building practices and materials.
Adobe bricks were made by hand, recycled first growth timber originally
harvested in 1912 was transported from an old mill in Washington
State, stone was quarried from neighboring ranches, and in 2001 the
first harvest crush at the new facility was celebrated.
La Encantada vineyard provides refuge for
endangered birds and other wildlife. The Santa Cruz Predatory
Bird Research Group maintains a hack box there, where threatened
young peregrine falcons are released into the wild after having
been recovered from bridges and urban skyscrapers.
Bluebirds and Owls
Bluebird boxes are maintained in the vineyards
to fledge bluebirds. This helps with insect control and mitigates
the loss of bluebird nesting sites (which were decimated by
the introduction of starlings during the last century.) Owl
boxes provide a natural means of rodent control, and vineyards
are planted with wildlife corridors to allow natural movement
of deer and other grazing animals.
Peregrine Falcons in the Vineyard
The Alma Rosa vineyards are pleased to host
the annual release of peregrine falcons! The falcons are a
combination of aviary-reared and wild young that have been
rescued from dangerous nest sites on buildings and bridges.
The UC Santa Cruz Predatory Bird Research Group organizes
and oversees the releases utilizing a university student workforce.
Our organic vineyards provide a safe place for young falcons
to acquire flight and hunting skills as they make their transition
to wild independence over an eight week period.
The student attendants gain valuable experience
with field biology work while observing the falcons and following
their movements with the aid of radio telemetry receivers.
Dangerous Falcon Nests
Falcons use ledges on tall cliff faces for
nesting. Recently, they have begun to also use ledges on bridges
and buildings as well. Young falcons fly quite well but land
clumsily after their first flights making some bridges and
buildings “lethal fledging environments.” The young
from the most dangerous sites are brought to Alma Rosa where
they may fledge safely.
UC Santa Cruz Predatory Bird Research Group
Founded in 1975 to lead peregrine falcon
population recovery efforts in California, the Santa Cruz Predatory
Bird Research Group (SCPBRG) has successfully helped to rebuild
the California peregrine falcon population from a low of 2
known pairs in 1970 to an estimated 250 pairs today. The Group
is a center of expertise at UC Santa Cruz that provides research,
wildlife management, and educational services to agencies,
corporations, and the public. Please visit the web
site to learn more.
The Slow Food Movement
Slow Food is a non-profit, eco-gastronomic
member-supported organization that was founded in 1989 to counteract
fast food and fast life, the disappearance of local food traditions
and people’s dwindling interest in the food they eat,
where it comes from, how it tastes and how our food choices
affect the rest of the world.
For additional information
on the Slow Food Movement please visit their official website.
For additional information on related topics, please
refer to the organizations listed below.
Santa Barbara County Vintners' Association
Vine Wine Tours - Organic and biodynamic vineyard and winery
Bay Aquarium Sustainable Seafood