Alma Rosa in the Press

San Francisco International Wine CompetitionWine Competitions bring home the medals

San Francisco International Wine Competition:
Silver Medals:
2011 Chardonnay, El Jabalí Vineyard, Sta. Rita Hills
2011 Pinot Noir, La Encantada Vineyard, Sta. Rita Hills

Bronze Medal:
2011 Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills


 

Sunset International Wine Competition
Sunset International Wine CompetitionGold Medal:
2010 Pinot Noir, La Encantada Vineyard, Sta. Rita Hills

Bronze Medal:
2010 Chardonnay, El Jabalí Vineyard, Sta. Rita Hills

Visionary Vintner

The accolades continue to pour in for Richard Sanford after his induction into the Vintners' Hall of Fame.  The Santa Barbara Independent profiles Richard and his journey including this quote from Wine Spectator's James Laube: “His legacy will always be being the first and having the courage to go forward,” said Laube, but he also praised the quality of Sanford’s wine, having tried every pinot that Sanford’s been involved with over the years, from the first in 1976 to the new Alma Rosa wines. “They age beautifully. They were fantastic. They were as good as any wines anywhere.”  Read the entire article here.

Farm to Fork Across America: Of Bread and Wine

Julie Brothers, of the Huffington Post is on a journey across the land to learn about food and wine. She met up with Richard Sanford to discuss winegrowing. As she notes in their discussion, "Richard communicated that the global wine community shares no prejudice because,"Wine is a universal language." This spawns an openness among winemakers, who share information freely in an otherwise highly competitive market. How refreshing. Richard's balanced nature imparts its essence throughout the vineyard and all those who enter it. I walked away feeling brightened, knowing I had met a truly authentic and kind individual."  Read the entire article here.

Richard Sanford include in Top 100 Most Influential People

These 100 people, from winemakers to law makers, bankers to bloggers, and sommeliers to celebrities are definitely people who influence wine; how it is made, marketed, perceived, sold, shipped, purchased and shared. Richard is at the very top of the list, coming in as #92."Santa Barbara wine pioneer Richard Sanford is among the inductees into the 2012 Vintners Hall of Fame. Sanford started one of the first modern wineries south of the Bay Area in 1982 and for several decades, his Sanford Winery and Vineyards was the lone outpost in the now-sizzling Santa Rita Hills area of Santa Barbara County. He was the first winemaker to prove the potential for Pinot Noir in the Santa Rita Hills and spent the next 20 years making some of the best regarded Pinots from the region. Sanford left his namesake winery in 2005 and founded Alma Rosa Winery & Vineyards."  Read the entire article here.  Read Richard's interview with editor Michael Cervin here.

San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition Results

The 2012 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition has set a new American wine competition record with an astounding 5,500 entries, surpassing its previous record of 5,050 last year. For nine consecutive years, this prestigious competition holds strong as the “Largest Competition of American Wines in the World.”  We are pleased to announce that out of all these entries, the judges awarded silver medals to both our 2009 Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills and 2009 Chardonnay, El Jabalí Vineyard, Sta. Rita Hills.

More medals...

We brought home gold and silver from the 2012 American Wine Competition! Gold medals were awarded to the 2009 Pinot Noir, Clone 667, La Encantada Vineyard, Sta. Rita Hills and 2009 Chardonnay, El Jabalí Vineyard, Sta. Rita Hills.  Silver medals were awarded to the 2009 Pinot Noir, Clone 115, La Encantada Vineyard and 2008 Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills.

Richard Sanford to be inducted into the Vintners Hall of Fame

On February 20, 2012 the Vintners Hall of Fame at The Culinary Institute of America, Greystone celebrates the men and women whose collective vision, determination, and hard work have been responsible for the growth and worldwide prestige of the California wine industry.

Russ Parsons of the Los Angeles Times announced:  “Central Coast wine pioneer Richard Sanford is among the inductees into the 2012 Vintners Hall of Fame, to be celebrated in February at the Culinary Institute of America’s Greystone campus in St. Helena, Calif.  Sanford started one of the first modern wineries south of the Bay Area in 1982; for a couple of decades, his Sanford Winery and Vineyards was the lone outpost in the now-sizzling Santa Rita Hills area of Santa Barbara County.”

Well-known wine journalist Steve Heimoff had this to say about Richard’s induction:

“For my money, the most obvious choice this year. A Hall of Fame inductee should be a true pioneer, and Mr. Sanford is one of the most pioneering winemakers California has produced in the last two generations. He (and his former partner, Michael Benedict) practically invented the Santa Rita Hills appellation, planting its first grapes (at their Sanford & Benedict Vineyard) and early establishing its reputation for Pinot Noir. Mr. Sanford and his wife, Thekla, nowadays own and run the Alma Rosa Winery, continuing his still evolving legacy in Santa Barbara County.”

Click here for details on the Induction Celebration

Awards of Merit from the Jefferson Cup Invitational

The Jefferson Cup Invitational celebrated its twelve year as the only competition that honors the best of the best among wineries from all of Americas wine regions. We are pleased that that 2008 Pinot Noir, La Encantada Vineyard and 2008 Pinot Blanc, La Encantada Vineyard both received an Award of Merit (equivalent to a silver medal) in this prestigious competition.

Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar review

© International Wine Cellar

Nov/Dec 2011

by Josh Raynolds

2009 Alma Rosa Winery & Vineyards Pinot Noir,  La Encantada Vineyard, Sta. Rita Hills ($43)  Bright ruby-red.  Fresh red berries and Asian spices on the fragrant nose.  Sappy and expressive, with tangy acidity giving clarity and verve to the lively raspberry and cherry flavors. Very fresh pinot with impressive spicy persistence.  This wine drinks nicely now but has the depth and balance to reward patience.

Score 90

2009 Alma Rosa Winery & Vineyards Chardonnay, El Jabalí Vineyard, Sta. Rita Hills  ($28) Bright yellow-gold.  Peach pit, honey and herbs on the pungent nose.  Broad and fleshy but dry, with powerful orchard and pit fruit flavors and complicating notes of tarragon and mace.  Packs a serious punch but shows very good structure, finishing long and sappy, with a note of dried pear.  For a big wine this shows little in the way of excess fat.

Score 90

2010 Alma Rosa Winery & Vineyards Pinot Noir Vin Gris, El Jabalí Vineyard, Sta. Rita Hills ($20) Light orange-pink.  Redcurrant, strawberry and orange zest on the nose.  A spicy, modestly fleshy midweight with a smooth texture and gently spicy red berry character.  Finishes slightly warm, with good breadth and spicy persistence.  This could be served with richer foods, even grilled red meats.

Score 88

2009 Alma Rosa Winery & Vineyards Pinot Noir,  Sta. Rita Hills ($32) Bright ruby-red.  Cherry, licorice and herbs on the pungent nose.  Juicy, focused red fruit flavors show good structure and notes of bitter chocolate and cracked pepper.  Finishes taut and slightly hard-edged, with a repeating cherry note.

Score 88

Sommeliers Award Medals

The third annual Sommelier Challenge International Wine Competition was a huge success. Distinguished sommeliers from some of the nation's finest restaurants gathered in San Diego to evaluate 657 entries from 17 countries.  Alma Rosa Winery & Vineyards were awarded a Gold Award for the 2008 Pinot Noir, La Encantada Vineyard and a Silver Award for the 2009 Chardonnay, Santa Barbara County.

Long Beach Grand Cru

More awards for our wines!  The judges awarded the 2008 Pinot Noir, La Encantada Vineyard a gold medal, and the 2008 Pinot Noir, Santa Barbara County with a silver. The Long Beach Grand Cru is considered one of the top international wine competitions in the U.S. Since its inception in 1995, the Competition has grown in size and prestige, attracting wineries from across the United States and from around the world.

Bringing Home more Gold

Gold Medals abound for our wines. The San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition awarded gold medals to our Alma Rosa 2008 Pinot Noir, La Encantada Vineyard, Sta. Rita Hills and our Alma Rosa 2008 Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills.

Then, at the 9th Annual Pinot Noir Shootout, the Alma Rosa 2008 La Encantada Vineyard, Sta. Rita Hills wine brought home yet another gold medal!

Gold and Double Gold!

The San Francisco International Wine Competition awarded the 2008 Alma Rosa Pinot Noir, La Encantada Vineyard, Sta. Rita Hills with a Double Gold Medal!  And then the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition followed suit with a Gold Medal each for 2008 Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills and 2008 Pinot Noir, La Encantada Vineyard, Sta. Rita Hills.

"Year's Best American Pinot Noirs"

Wine & Spirits Magazine awarded our 2008 Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills 91 points and our 2008 Pinot Noir, La Encantada Vineyard, Sta. Rita Hills 90 points in this issue profiling the Best American Pinot Noirs of the year.

 

San Francisco Chronicle Top 100 for 2010

We are honored that our 2008 Alma Rosa Pinot Noir, La Encantada Vineyard, Sta. Rita Hills was selected by the Chronicle's editors for their Top 100 wines of the year. They noted: "Santa Barbara Wine Pioneer Richard Sanford (Sanford & Benedict) is soaring with his new label. This gorgeous estate bottling is heady with tobacco and nutmeg, and a balance of delicate dark blue fruit and tangy wild strawberry."

Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar

© International Wine Cellar

by Josh Raynolds

November/December 2010

2009 Alma Rosa Winery & Vineyards Pinot Noir VIn Gris El Jabali Vineyard, Sta. Rita Hills

($20) Light pink. Pungent red berries and spices on the nose, with a complicating note of dried rose. Bright and nervy on entry, then fleshier in. Closes with good grip and slight bitterness. Score: 87

2008 Alma Rosa Winery & Vineyards PInot Noir Santa Barbara County

($32) Vivid red. Musky aromas of red berries and cherry skin, with a hint of rhubarb and subtle floraility. Fleshy and broad on entry, then firmer in the mid palate, offering red currant and bitter cherry flavors and a hint of white pepper. Finishes with slight bitterness and good length. Score: 88

2008 Alma Rosa Winery & Vineyards Pinot Noir La Encantada Vineyards, Sta. Rita Hills

($43) Pretty, youthful medicinal aromas of wild strawberry, cherry, licorice and herbs. Juicy and fresh, but also sappy and ripe with silky red and dark berry and spice flavors supported by a firm spine of acids and fine-grained tannins. Finishes with attractive sweetness and a suggestion of blood orange. Score: 90

Alma Rosa included in Wine Spectator's 200 Great Values

We are very pleased that our Alma Rosa Chardonnay Santa Barbara County, 2008 has been included in Wine Spectator's "200 Great Values". They note "Fresh, clean and vibrant, featuring mouth-watering green apple, quince and spicy traits that are medium-body and cleansing on the finish."

Nights of Wine & Pasta

Healthy Living Magazine recently asked the question "Which Wines go Best with Baked Pasta?" The answer for Ziti was our 2007 Pinot Noir, La Encantada Vineyard. Check it out!

Alma Rosa - The Valley of Giants

by Wayne Kelterer

September 22, 2010

How do you measure a man? How do you judge his life’s work? Is it by wealth, by notoriety, the opinions of
others? For the banker, is it by the quantity of his assets, or the doctor by the lives he saved? What about the
winemaker, is it his vineyard, his winery, his wine?  Read the entire article here.

Proud to be a Sponsor of Rainforest Action Network's "Revel"

Alma Rosa Winery and Vineyards is a proud sponsor of Rainforest Action Network's 25th Annual "Revel" Fundraiser on the 15th of October 2010 in San Francisco.

Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from our organically certified estate vineyards will be served at the sponsors dinner honoring Amy Goodman of Democracy Now, Robert Kennedy, Jr. of Waterkeeper Alliance, Teri Blanton, KFTC Canary Project Fellow,  and Rivani Noor and Uki Setara of CAPPA.

Join Rainforest Action Network (RAN) as they celebrate a quarter century of tough and effective campaign work to protect forests and halt climate change.  RAN brings the voices of the people and the planet to the world’s largest corporations demanding the type of change that can only be achieved through fearless, bold action.  They have saved millions of acres, mobilized thousands of activists, and put on hundreds of creative actions.  We fully support their efforts! Click here for details.

We're honored to be nominated!

Thekla and Richard Sanford and their Alma Rosa Winery and Vineyards have been nominated for Sunset's Western Wine Awards Green Award! The Sunset Western Wine Awards is recognized as a huge honor for Western winemakers and focuses solely on the best wine producers in the West. Sunset’s panel of professional judges includes Western wine writers, sommeliers, and wine makers.  The Sanfords were recognized for their 25 years of environmental stewardship, organic farming, sustainable business practices, and green building.

Richard Sanford nominated for Vintners Hall of Fame

The Vintners Hall of Fame at The Culinary Institute of America, Greystone celebrates the men and women whose collective vision, determination, and hard work have been responsible for the growth and worldwide prestige of the California wine industry.

 

Medals from the Sommelier Challenge

"The second annual Sommelier Challenge International Wine Competition was a huge success.  Twelve sommeliers from some of the nation's finest restaurants gathered in San Diego September 11th and 12th to evaluate 635.  Robert Whitley, Director, Sommelier Challenge"

Gold Award - 2008 Chardonnay Santa Barbara County

Silver Award - 2007 Pinot Noir, La Encantada Vineyard, Sta. Rita Hills

A Look at the 2008 Vintage

San Francisco Chronicle wine writer Jon Bonné examined the 2008 PInot Noir releases from Santa Barbara County, declaring it a "vintage where the potential for delicate, deft Pinot Noir was there." Of Alma Rosa's 2008 Pinot Noir, La Encantada Vineyard, he noted "Richard Sanford, one of Santa Barbara's wine pioneers, continues to set a standard for the region with his Alma Rosa label."  Read the entire article here.    

Robert Parker Jr. Review

"Alma Rosa is the brainchild of Richard Sanford, an early visionary and viticultural pioneer from the Santa Rita Hills.  Richard Sanford’s five Pinot Noirs are evidence of some of the challenges this varietal confronted in 2008.   These wines are not as rich and concentrated as several previous vintages, but they are well-made and far more evolved and ready to drink which is certainly an advantage." Click here to read his comments.

   

A Cameo Role for Alma Rosa!

We are excited to announce that Annette Bening, in “The Kids are All Right,” had the good taste to offer Alma Rosa Pinot Noir in a critical scene.

The cameo role was in the most talked-about movie at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival, and the winner of the Teddy Award for Best Feature Film at the 2010 Berlin International Film Festival, The Kids Are All Right is directed by Lisa Cholodenko (High Art, Laurel Canyon) from an original screenplay that she wrote with Stuart Blumberg (Keeping the Faith). The movie combines comedic surprise with poignant emotional truth in a funny, vibrant, and richly drawn portrait of a modern family.

 

Editors Choice!

Wine Enthusiast Magazine recently awarded the 2008 Pinot Blanc, La Encantada Vineyard with 91 points and an Editors Choice. Wine critic Steve Heimoff noted:

"Shows tremendous richness and impressive weight along the lines of a Chardonnay, although the flavors are lighter and more refined, suggesting tangerines and Meyer lemons. Brisk coastal acidity provides brilliantly bright balance. Very fine as a food-friendly alternative to many Chardonnays."  Editors Choice.

The UK’s GMTV came to visit Alma Rosa

Tasting Room Manager Chris Burroughs asks : "If the girls are Thelma and Louise from the movie what male character does that make me?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

90 Points for 2008 Pinot Gris, La Encantada Vineyard, Sta. Rita Hills

"A beautiful Pinot Gris that lifts this variety beyond workhorse into true elegance and style. Braced with brisk acidity and minerals, it features rich flavors of citrus and tropical fruits, wildflowers, honeysuckle flowers, vanilla and cinnamon spice."  90 points. August 2010

San Francisco Awards Medals in Prestigious Competitions

Our bottles are sporting a lot of "jewelry" lately, with medals adorning their necks from wine competitions throughout the country. The San Francisco Chronicle awarded Gold Medals to both our 2008 Pinot Noir, La Encantada Vineyard and 2008 Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills.  Silver medals were awarded to 2008 Chardonnay, Santa Barbara County and 2007 Chardonnay, El Jabali Vineyard.

Double Gold!!

Also from San Francisco, the San Francisco International Wine Competition honored us with a Double Gold for our 2008 Pinot Noir, La Encantada Vineyard and Silver Medals for the 2008 Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills and 2007 Chardonnay, El Jabali Vineyard.

A Silver Medal from Dallas

We are pleased to report that the 2008 Alma Rosa Chardonnay, Santa Barbara County, was awarded a silver medal at the Dallas Morning News Wine Competition.  The competition included 2,756 entries from 955 wineries from 17 countries and 24 states for the 2010 competition!

All About the Sta. Rita Hills

The Washington Post's Dave McIntyre talked to a number of local winemakers about our unique appellation. 

"Richard Sanford of Alma Rosa Winery is celebrating his 40th year as a winemaker in the Santa Rita Hills. And though he makes some of the region's best chardonnay and pinot noir, he is also producing some top-notch pinot blanc, an underappreciated variety wherever it is grown. Sanford expressed a zenlinke appreciation for his wine. "I like the emptiness pinot blanc has, with a modest varietal flavor," Sanford said as we tasted his pinot blanc from the Santa Rita Hills. He was the one being modest. The wine seemed pretty mouth-filling and delicious to me." 

Read the entire article here.

Snooth Rates our Chardonnay

"This is a really intensely aromatic with huge floral tones, soft citrus fruits, and subtle hazelnutty oak and a touch of fresh fig. On the palate this is medium lightweight with lovely mineral cut, and bright acids that really make the fresh orange and peach fruit pop. With a really fresh and dynamic palate profile that refreshes the mouth and invites another sip. The fruit is very pure, and the winemaking seemingly incidental. A lovely wine that finishes with energy and great length. I am tempted to just enjoy this on its own but pairing it with a chicken and morel dish would be even better! 93 pts. Gregory Dal Piaz"

Grape Nutz' Ken Zinns Comes to Visit

Ken is a wine aficionado, writer, winemaker and has a real job as an architect.  He is also one of the Grape Nutz correspondents, and came to visit recently.  "Alma Rosa is Richard and Thekla Sanford's label, which they started after they parted from Sanford Winery about five years ago. In that short time, they've already established Alma Rosa as one of the best Chardonnay and Pinot Noir producers in the area. They also make a wonderful Pinot Blanc, a real favorite of mine."  There's much more, so click here to read Ken's notes.

Dave McIntyre's Wine Line

Dave McIntyre is the wine correspondent for the Washington Post. Dave recently visited Alma Rosa Winery & Vineyards and had this to say: "I suffered cognitive dissonance a few weeks ago over pinot noir. I lunched on Monday with Richard Sanford at his Alma Rosa Winery in Santa Barbara County over beef stew and his 2006 and 2007 La Encantada Vineyard pinot.  He had just driven me around the Santa Rita Hills in the Santa Ynez Valley, an appellation he pioneered by planting Sanford & Benedict vineyard in the 1970's..." Read the entire article here.

 

Central Coast Magazine's 2010 Green Award

We are very proud to receive this award.  Calling Alma Rosa one of "seven innovators in sustainability", judge Sarah Ettman-Stener noted calls Alma Rosa "the gold standard for the organic wine industry in California and the world."

Read the magazine's overview here.

Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar

Josh Raynolds of Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar recently tasted through our lineup and reported the attached notes. We are very pleased to have been included in this very prestigious bi-monthly publication. To read the review, please click here.

© International Wine Cellar

Alma Rosa does it Again!

For the second year in a row, Alma Rosa's El Jabalí Vineyard Chardonnay has been chosen by the prestigious San Francisco Chronicle as one of the top 100 wines of 2009.  Read details here.

Best Buy from Wine & Spirits Magazine

We are very pleased that Wine & Spirits Magazine honored our 2007 Chardonnay, El Jabali Vineyard with 93 points and a "Best Buy" designation.

Accolades Far & Wide!

We are very pleased to have received a silver medal for our 2008 Chardonnay, Santa Barbara County, at the prestigious Hong Kong International Wine & Spirits Competition.

And in the "relatively near" category, Richard Sanford traveled to New Hampshire for the state's Wine Week. Read the interview with Richard here.

Editors Choice!

Wine Enthusiast’ editor, Steve Heimoff, recently tasted our current line up of white wines:

Alma Rosa Chardonnay, Santa Barbara County 2007: 93 Points & EDITORS CHOICE!

A very fine Chardonnay showing succulent flavors of pineapples, Meyer lemons and bracing minerals, with a rich honeysuckle and buttered toast sweetness. Flashy, impressive, and an incredible value.

Alma Rosa Chardonnay El Jabalí Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills 2007: 91 Points
Always a precise, focused wine, Alma Rosa’s ’07 El Jabalí shows a procession toward a drier, more Chablis-style Chardonnay than in the past. It’s mouthwatering in acidity, with firm flavors of chalky minerals, pineapples, honeysuckle flowers and buttered toast. Now–2012.

Alma Rosa Pinot Blanc La Encantada Vineyard 2008: 90 Points
A delightful wine, clean and versatile at the table, that’s a cross between a rich Chardonnay and a zesty Pinot Gris. Bone dry, it displays crisp
flavors of Meyer lemons, limes, tangerines and pears, enriched with a touch of buttercream and vanilla.

Alma Rosa Chardonnay Santa Barbara County 2008: 89 Points
Bone dry and tart in citrusy acidity, this is a Chablis style Chardonnay. It has a firm minerality grounding clean flavors of sour pineapple candy, with richer notes of vanilla and smoky oak. Elegant and food-friendly.

Alma Rosa Pinot Gris Santa Barbara County 2008: 88 Points Editors’ Choice.
A very nice wine, bone dry and crisp in cool-climate acidity that really gets the mouth watering. It has complex flavors of lemons, limes, grapefruit and herbs, with a clean, pleasing minerality.

Wine Skinny recommends a full-bodied Chardonnay for the Fall, including our 2007 Chardonnay from our El Jabali Vineyard. Click here for their recommendations.

Food & Wine Magazine’s Linda Murphy wrote on the 2009 Harvest and the current trend toward affordable wines. One that she recommends is our 2008 Chardonnay, Santa Barbara County. Read the entire article here.

“Meet food-friendly, fruity Pinot Gris”, by invitation from the Chicago Tribune. Granting our Pinot Gris “two corkscrews”, they note: “a big wine ripe with melons, apricots and peaches. Serve with steamed mussels, grilled chicken, bacon-wrapped scallops.” Click here.

When Robert Parker Jr. came to town earlier this year, he tasted through our lineup of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, noting snippets such as “this cuvée is impressively endowed” and granting our 2007 wines scores of 87 – 90. Click here for the review.

 

Washington Post With Organic Focus, Vintner is a Quiet Revolutionary

“Richard Sanford is in his third incarnation as a winemaker. For a follower of Eastern philosophy who practices tai chi and considers himself a spiritual Taoist, reincarnation is not a far-fetched concept. He's a California wine pioneer, among the first to plant pinot noir in Santa Barbara County in the 1970s as a fledgling vineyard owner. He walked away from his second winery in 2005 in a dispute with his business partners over organic viticulture. Today, as winemaker and co-owner with his wife, Thekla, of Alma Rosa Winery & Vineyards, he is part of a growing counterrevolution in California wine.” Read more here.

Edible Santa Barbara: What the Grownups are Drinking

On the menu for their quarterly review of local wines was a daunting task; finding affordable and delicious wines for under $20! One of their selections – our 2008 Chardonnay. Read the article and review here.

Greenopia

Greenopia, an organization that rates “everything from the environmental impact of airlines, to big box stores” recently studied the environmental impact of wineries in the United States. Utilizing a rating system of leaves, with 4 leaves representing the highest rating of sustainability, Alma Rosa topped the list with 3 of 4 leaves. Read the press release here!

LA Times Sideways – Still!

The LA Times recently came to visit to see if the movie Sideways was still bringing visitors to Santa Barbara County. “..five years after the Santa Ynez Valley was featured in an Oscar-winning film, the region is still feeling the upside of “Sideways””. Read the entire article here.

And speaking of “Sideways”, writer Erin De Santiago recently took a trip up to Santa Barbara Wine Country to see what the hype was all about, and yes (admittedly) to do their own Sideways tour. Check out their suggestions here.

Sommelier Challenge

The Sommelier Challenge at the International Wine Competition awarded our 2006 Pinot Noir, La Encantada Vineyard a Platinum Award.

2007 Chardonnay, El Jabalí Vineyard received 89 points and kudos recently from Wine Spectator magazine, who noted: Crisp and flinty, with tight tangerine, nectarine and subtle citrus blossom notes that take on a pleasant earthy edge. Cellar short term. Best from 2010 through 2013. 500 cases made. – J.L.

San Francisco International Wine Competition: We are pleased to report that our 2008 Chardonnay, Santa Barbara County was awarded a silver medal at this prestigious International Wine Competition.

Alma Rosa is pleased to have received a Silver Medal for our 2007 Pinot Gris, Santa Barbara County and our 2007 Pinot Noir, La Encantada Vineyard, Sta. Rita Hills at the Dallas Morning News Wine Competition.

 

Tasted at the World of Pinot Noir in California’s Shell Beach earlier this month, Sanford’s 2006 Alma Rosa La Encantada “Clone 667” Pinot Noir stood out among hundreds of other Pinot beauties as a wine of gorgeous, multi-faceted black and blueberry tart-like perfumes with dark forest, crushed brushy, humus-like undertones; a dense, broad yet svelte mouth-feel held together by sturdy tannin, and fleshed out by luscious, almost sweet, floral, crushed berry flavors. Ah, ye olde promised land.
Randy Caparosa, Organic Wine Match of the Day

Gold Medal Winner – 2006 Chardonnay El Jabalí Vineyard, Sta. Rita Hills

The 16th international competition of the World’s best Chardonnay has brought a gold medal to Alma Rosa! Competing against a large concentration of chardonnay wine and vast geographical diversity: 923 wine samples from 37 countries. Chardonnay du Monde® occupies a special place amongst international competitions thanks to its worldwide scope and its rigorous method. Strict quality standards and optimal tasting conditions enabled the 300 international judges to award 307medals that are recognized as a reliable criterion for selection.

2007 Pinot Noir - Mt. Eden Clone, El Jabalí Vineyard, Sta. Rita Hills
Shows a real Burgundian earthiness, with rich humous, mushroom and gamey, leathery flavors, marbled with a deep well of spicy plum sauce. This earthy richness, with the distinct tannins, suggests ageability for this dry wine. Best after 22009. 92 Points

2007 Pinot Noir - Clone 777, La Encantada Vineyard, Sta. Rita Hills
Softly tannic and direct in jammy blackberry, cherry and red plum flavors, with chocolate overtones that have a candied, sugary edge. Not showing a great deal of complexity now, but could evolve in a few years. Hard to predict. 88 Points

2007 Pinot Noir - Clone 667, La Encantada Vineyard, Sta. Rita Hills
You might want to give this bottle a few years of age. Tasted in late October of 2008, it's heavy with lots of sticky tannins. It's also a bit one-dimensional in red cherry, red currant and red licorice flavors. 87 Points.

 

Wine critic James Laube included Alma Rosa’s Pinot Noir- Clone 777 in his “10 Exciting new California Pinot Noirs, with a focus on screw-capped new brands”:

Score: 89 Rich and concentrated, with ripe, vivid blueberry and blackberry fruit that's well-proportioned, balanced and long on the finish. Drink now through 2012. 235 cases made. —J.L.

Eric Asimov reported on the breadth and depth of Chardonnay’s from Santa Barbara County, noting:

“..it’s hard to imagine any region outdoing Santa Barbara for the sheer variety of chardonnay styles it offers.
Our No. 2 wine, the 2007 Alma Rosa, was a very different style, crisp, subtle and refreshing like a good Mâconnais wine.
It was one of the few bottles that came with a screw cap, and at $15 it was our best value.”

Read the entire article here.

I recently tasted through a lineup of wines from California winery Alma Rosa, and I have to say — I really liked every single one of them.

Read the entire review from wineskinny.com here.

 

The Fort Worth Business Press came to Santa Barbara and wrote about their visit to Alma Rosa.

“The Week”, a publication that touts it is “All You Need to Know About Everything that Matters” listed our 2006 Chardonnay as one of the year’s top five must-have wines.

 

Rusty Gaffaney, “The Prince of Pinot” included his thoughts on Alma Rosa in his newsletter. This edition of The PinotFile notes:

“What I most remember and admire about Richard Sanford is that he tirelessly poured his wines at many events over the years, patiently answering all questions with polite aplomb and enthusiasm. When I first became seriously interested in wine in the 1980s, Richard was participating in even small wine charity events and it was through encounters with him at these tastings that I became impressed by the man and his stellar wines. Even today, he and his wife eagerly participate in major Pinot Noir events, not at all content to rest on their laurels.”

He then reviews the current release Pinot Noirs. Click here to visit his website.

“The Grape Crusader” blogged about the 2007 Chardonnay, Santa Barbara County release, noting “The wine is first fermented in oak for a few weeks before being transferred to steel tanks for aging and then bottling. Malolactic fermentation, the process that softens the acids in the wine, is not carried out. The combination of oak treatment along with steel treatment leads to a wine that has slight hints of oak, refreshing acidity, tropical fruit flavors and hints of mineral. All of this makes for a wine with interesting juxtapositions of flavor. Juxta-what? It tastes good.” Read the entire blog here.

Wine Spectator included our 2006 Chardonnay – Santa Barbara County as one of their “2008 Top Values” in the February 2009 issue.

Wine Wisdom: Tasting the Journey at the Alma Rosa Winery with Richard and Thekla Sanford

Edible Ojai magazine recently came to visit, and correspondent Lisa Kring writes about Alma Rosa and Richard and Thekla’s aspirations and convictions - read the article here.

San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition

The San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition Features Every Significant Type and Style of Wine, From Each of the Major Wine-Producing Regions in the United States. We are very pleased that three of our wines stood out in the field of 4,736 wines entered, bringing home a silver medal each!

2007 Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills
2007 Pinot Noir, La Encantada Vineyard, Sta. Rita Hills
2007 Pinot Gris, Santa Barbara County

Top 100 Wines of 2008

Our 2006 Chardonnay, El Jabalí Vineyard, was among the San Francisco Chronicle’s “Top 100 Wines of 2008”. They noted: Richard Sanford shows his longtime talents with this lavish, ripe single-vineyard Chardonnay. Limpid, orange-driven aromas presage honeyed fig and citrus, with a bit of dry wood presence and a pleasing touch of sweetness on the palate, matched by firm, minerally bite. Balanced, well-defined Chardonnay from a parcel Sanford has farmed since 1983.

Gold and Silver!

The judges at the Long Beach Grand Cru wine competition awarded a gold medal to our 2007 Chardonnay, Santa Barbara County and silver medals to our 2006 Pinot Blanc, Sta. Rita Hills and 2006 Pinot Noir, La Encantada Vineyard.

USA Today: Sips: Make Thanksgiving a Celebration of Pinot Noir

Jerry Shriver, who has been very supportive of the Central Coast, wrote about wines for the Holidays and mentioned Alma Rosa Winery & Vineyards. Click here for the article.

Top 100 of 2008

Alma Rosa Winery & Vineyards 2006 Chardonnay Santa Barbara County has been selected as the #4 wine for Wine Enthusiast Magazine Top 100 Enthusiast Wines for 2008! 94 points

The Model Green Winery: Richard Sanford’s Alma Rosa Winery & Vineyards

“A couple of weeks ago, I found some videos about the Sanford's new venture, Alma Rosa wines on youtube and I was very struck by Richard Sanford's zen-master approach to life, growing grapes, and wine making. It was clear to me that the Sanfords embodied the essence of sustainable viticulture, and were the first to do so in Santa Barbara County 22 years ago on their 110 acres of organic estate vineyards. I really wanted to get to know their first wines in the post-Sanford Winery period. So I arranged to taste the entire current release line-up, thanks to Richard and Thekla Sanford.”

Read the entire blog here.

2006 Alma Rosa Winery and Vineyards Pinot Noir La Encantada Vineyard Santa Rita Hills
($36) Bright ruby. Powerfully scented, seductive bouquet of fresh red berries, herbs and anise. Silky and sweet, offering clean raspberry and cherry flavors and a pleasantly bitter fruit skin quality. A bit wound-up initially, but gained sweetness with air. Finishes with very good lift and sweet persistence. 90

2007 Alma Rosa Winery and Vineyards Pinot Gris Santa Barbara County
($18) Light, bright gold. Pungent lemon, lime and mineral aromas are underscored by baking spices and dusty minerals. Moderately deep citrus and orchard fruit flavors are given a bitter edge by lime zest, picking up anise and thyme with air. Sweeter melon and nectarine qualities build through the juicy finish. Plenty of fruit here. 88

2006 Alma Rosa Winery and Vineyards Pinot Noir Santa Rita Hills
($36) Deep red. Smoky oak and black raspberry on the nose. Lively red berry flavors are firmed by juicy acidity and given depth by a slow-building dark chocolate quality. The finish features an interesting Campari-like bitterness and a lingering note of cracked pepper. Not a particularly easy style, but nicely suited to strongly seasoned red meat dishes. 88

Also recommended: 2007 Chardonnay Santa Barbara County (86), 2006 Chardonnay El Jabali Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills (86).

A few video links:

Some great videos of Richard Sanford, one of him sitting down and talking a bit about the philosophy behind Alma Rosa, and one about his vineyards and the history of the Santa Rita Hills.

Richard in the vineyards

Richard at the Alma Rosa Tasting Room going through the wines

Winemaker of the Year

Richard and Thekla were recently honored as “Winemaker of the Year” at the recent Santa Fe Wine & Chile Fiesta.

Richard Sanford has been at the forefront of Santa Barbara Pinot Noir since 1970 when he planted the Sanford & Benedict Vineyard. It's been a long process - one with many unforeseen twists and turns... Through it all, for more than thirty years now, Sanford has consistently produced one of the most compelling expressions of Pinot Noir in the New World.

Click here to read the entire article from Edible Santa Fe.

An All-Star panel of 16 organic and biodynamic leaders singled out Alma Rosa at the first ever International Green Wine Competition held recently in Santa Rosa. Alma Rosa competed against 271 wines entered from six states and 10 foreign nations to bring home the medals!

Dennis Schaefer profiled Alma Rosa in our local Santa Barbara News-Press on September 25th.

“Richard and Thekla Sanford are resilient and positive-minded folks who’ve been through many changes in the past couple of years, but have emerged on the other side, stronger and more committed than ever to organic grape growing and sustainable agriculture.”

Click here to read the full article.

In the San Francisco Chronicle, Wine write Jon Bonné talked about the cultural differences in Chardonnay. He chose a few vintners who elegantly express the grape, and noted in his “Powerhouse Producers” that “Richard Sanford’s fans know the Santa Rita Hills vintner’s Chardonnay work …those talents have resurfaced in his single-vineyard Jabali Chardonnay.”
Read the entire article here.

Wine writer Robert Whitley from the San Diego Union-Tribune recently tasted the current releases and noted: “ I was impressed with the restraint and balance of the lineup. All the wines have more than enough fruit, but you will notice minerals and juicy acidity, elements that are tuned more to European palates…”
Read the entire article here.

Wine Find: 2007 Alma Rosa Pinot Gris
By Michael Dresser,September 17, 2008

This lush, ripe, full-bodied, dry white wine is simply packed with flavor. That comes as no surprise because it comes from J. Richard and Thekla Sanford, the former proprietors of Sanford Winery. Skillfully made in the style of its Alsace counterparts, this wine shows nuances of lemon, orange, pears and mulling spices - all delivered with a creamy texture punctuated with a good jolt of acidity.

And more Accolades from Wine Enthusiast in the September Issue

Alma Rosa Pinot Gris La Encantada Vineyard 2006: 89 Points
A nice, pleasant sipper, lovely on its own as an aperitif, with wonderfully crisp acidity and a stony minerality balancing rich flavors of citrus fruits and wildflowers. Feels elegant and clean throughout.

Alma Rosa Pinot Blanc La Encantada Vineyard 2006: 88 Points
It’s the kind of wine that’s perfect for a summer day. You could put some strawberries in it, or make it a cooler with a dash of fruit juice. No insult to the wine, which is dry and zesty in acidity and very good. The flavors are a solid home run of citrus, green apples, honeysuckle and cinnamon.

Editor’s Choice in the August 2008 Wine Enthusiast!

Alma Rosa Pinot Noir Sta Rita Hills 2006: 93 Points, Editor’s Choice
Impresses for the body and depth that lifts it into sheer deliciousness. A powerful wine, it’s stuffed with pure flavors of black cherries, currants, beef jerky and spicy mu shu plum sauce, all wrapped into thick but finely ground tannins, and brightened by crisp coastal acidity. Beautiful now, and should develop over the next 6 years.

Alma Rosa Chardonnay Santa Barbara County 2006: 94 Points, Editor’s Choice
Starts with an opulent, inviting aroma of smoky honey, vanilla, tangerines, Meyer lemons, yellow apricots, green apples and minerals. In the mouth, the flavors are very similar – an explosion of fruits, spices and toast. Just a tremendous wine, but for all the volume and complexity, it’s completely balanced.

Recent Accolades from Wine Spectator

Alma Rosa Chardonnay Santa Barbara County 2006: 89 Points
Fresh, tangy pineapple, citrus and tangerine-laced fruit is complex, intense, lively, elegant, balanced and very refreshing. Drink now.

Alma Rosa Chardonnay El Jabalí Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills 2006: 88 Points
Lime, quince and citrus notes give this a flinty, refreshing and distinct personality, with mouthwatering acidity that’s cleansing. Drink now through 2010.

Alma Rosa Pinot Noir Santa Rita Hills 2006: 87 Points
Balanced, with spicy plum, herb, sage and hints of cedar and anise, ending with a drying herbal aftertaste. Drink now through 2010.

The 2008 Long Beach Grand Cru Awards

Alma Rosa wines were awarded quite a few medals at this year’s competition, including:

Gold
2007 Chardonnay, Santa Barbara County

Silver
2006 Pinot Blanc, Santa Rita Hills
2006 Pinot Noir, La Encantada Vineyard, Santa Rita Hills

Bronze
2006 Chardonnay, El Jabalí Vineyard, Santa Rita Hills
2006 Pinot Gris, Santa Barbara County
2006 Pinot Noir, Santa Rita Hills

In new venture, veteran winemaker Richard Sanford stays true to himself.

"You learn a lot along the way," Sanford concludes. "I've learned this: Be true to yourself and without compromise, while being respectful of other points of view. It's pretty exciting once again." Read the entire article here.

Screwcaps are Best, states Decanter Magazine!
It's official: screwcap is the best closure for the vast majority of wines, both red and white.

This is the opinion of Decanter magazine's most senior contributors, from Steven Spurrier to Linda Murphy in California and Huon Hooke in Australia, tastings director Christelle Guibert and restaurant critic Brian St Pierre. Read the entire article here.

Grape Radio

Listen to Grape Radio’s podcasts of Wine & Fire, where they interview Richard:

The Pioneers of Pinot Noir

Wine & Fire, Sta. Rita Hills

Exploring California Wine Country

“Owner Richard Sanford looks youthful at 67, but he's the undisputed gray eminence of Sta. Rita Hills. He planted Sanford & Benedict, the first vineyard in the region, in 1971, 30 years before the establishment of the AVA. In 2005, he started Alma Rosa with his wife, Thekla. Their tasting room is an unembellished farmhouse, with 9-foot cactuses by the entrance, two barrels and a wood plank for a bar, and what is possibly the fattest cat on the Central Coast sprawled on the floor. They pour six wines, including two stylish Pinot Noirs and a lively, intense Chardonnay from the home estate.” Click here to read the full article.

“Unearthing soul in the soils of the Central Coast’s lauded ground” La Encantada truly reveals its meaning (“the enchanted) in this wine – one of the best of its class. Read the entire article here.

New Names & Familiar Faces

”Richard Sanford's name is honored among the best of Santa Barbara vintners, and deservedly so. However, there's been a change that few wine lovers are aware of: The visionary winemaker is no longer associated with the winery that bears his name. After selling his shares of his eponymous brand to his partners in Paterno Wine Company over philosophical differences about organic farming, Richard and his wife and partner Thekla walked away. Now they've reinvented themselves under another new brand they named Alma Rosa, and they're producing an excellent lineup of Pinot Noirs and Pinot Gris. They explained that their brand represents the culmination of their life experiences and their commitment to organic and sustainable agriculture." Click here to read the full article.

Green Grapes in the 805

Many wineries in Central California have adopted organic and biodynamic farming practices to produce the best wines possible. For Richard Sanford, founder of Alma Rosa Winery & Vineyards in the Santa Rita Hills appellation of Santa Barbara County, farming organically was an easy choice. Sanford founded both the Sanford & Benedict and Sanford Wineries before going out on his own with his Alma Rosa. “My wife and I had an organic garden,” he recalls of their early days, “and she suggested that we grow the grapes organically. So in the mid-eighties, we weaned ourselves of all chemicals.” Look to Alma Rosa for both exceptional chardonnay and pinot noir made from organic grapes.

Read the entire article here.

Earth Friendly Spring Fling

In the March 2008 issue of Sunset Magazine, they suggest 10 earth friendly Spring Flings. #1? Go Wine Tasting!

“You thought the movie Sideways told you all you need to know about Santa Barbara? You thought wrong. There is, for instance, the Sustainable Vine Tour that we’re guessing you haven’t tried. The six-hour, behind the scenes look at organic winemaking might include a visit to Demetria Winery, lunch with the owners of Ampelos Cellars and a grand finale at Alma Rosa Winery & Vineyards, run by eco-minded wine pioneer Richard Sanford..

The other nine flings? Click here!

A post-Sideways tour by Food & Wine magazine

“Of course, the groundwork for many of these changes was laid long before as seen in Sideways signs were posted around the county. A number of important new wineries were in the works around the time that Sideways debuted—among them Alma Rosa and Jonata—and the amount of acreage under vine was at a record high. Recently, I drove up Pacific Coast Highway to see how the wine scene in Santa Barbara County was unfolding.

Richard Sanford, a founding father of Santa Barbara Pinot Noir, presides over Alma Rosa. Sanford founded the Alma Rosa winery after selling the original Sanford Winery. The property is fairly hard to find, located behind a cactus gateway on Santa Rosa Road in the relatively new Santa Rita Hills appellation that he himself helped to create.

Sanford, a tall, tanned and presidential-seeming man, showed me around the buildings, fountains and Taoist-inspired paths of Alma Rosa. When he arrived in Santa Barbara County in 1969, farmers were growing mostly barley and garbanzo and lima beans, or grazing cattle. Sanford studied the area’s geography and topography to see if it could support vineyards, and he drove around with a thermometer taking measurements. “People thought, ‘This person is nuts!’” Sanford recalled. “When I said I wanted to grow grapes, I was told it was a dumb idea.”

Read writer Chip Brown’s Santa Barbara Winery tour here.

A Trio of Silver Medals!

The results are in for the results of the prestigious 2008 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, and we are very pleased to report that the following wines each brought home a silver medal. 2006 Pinot Noir, La Encantada Vineyard, 2006 Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills and the 2006 Chardonnay, El Jabalí

Noteworthy, Outstanding and Impressive!

A new operation owned by Richard Sanford, Alma Rosa’s two 2005 Pinot Noirs are both noteworthy offerings. The single vineyard 2005 Pinot Noir La Encantada Vineyard exhibits a dark ruby color along with a big, spicy, plum, cherry and earthy-scented perfume with hints of roasted herbs and wood in the background. A soft entry on the palate offers deep fruit, an elegant style, impressive purity and ripeness and good overall harmony. Enjoy it over the next 5-6 years. Surprisingly, the generic 2005 Pinot Noir Santa Rita Hills is even more complex, displaying additional notes of beet roots, forest floor and sweet cherries. This well-made, medium-bodied Pinot possesses excellent fruit, spice, earth and subtle herb and smoke characteristics. It too should be consumed over the next 5-6 years.

The two outstanding Chardonnays include the 2005 Chardonnay El Jabali Vineyard which offers plenty of tropical fruit, peach, and honeysuckle notes, an excellent texture, medium to full body and an up-front style. Drink it over the next several years. More hazelnut, toasted almond and buttery popcorn characteristics are found in the 2005 Chardonnay Santa Barbara. Not as forceful, rich or delineated as the single vineyard cuvee, it is an outstanding Chardonnay to consumer over the next 1-2 years.

Lastly, two impressive Pinot Blancs include the fruit-dominated, single vineyard 2005 Pinot Blanc La Encantada Vineyard. Aromas of white currants, orange blossoms and apple skins are followed by a wine with gorgeous fruit, a striking minerality and no evidence of wood. It should be a food-friendly white to enjoy over the next 1-2 years. Cut from the same cloth, but not quite as nuanced and complete, the 2005 Pinot Blanc Santa Rita Hills should drink well for 1-2 years as well.

2005 Chardonnay, Santa Barbara County 90pts

2005 Chardonnay, El Jabali Vyd 90 pts

2005 Pinot Blanc, Sta. Rita Hills 87 pts

2005 Pinot Blanc, La Encantada Vyd 89pts

2005 Pinot Noir, Sta Rita Hills 89 pts

2005 Pinot Noir, La Encantada Vyd 88 pts

One to Watch

After pioneering Pinot Noir in Santa Barbara's Santa Rita Hills in the 1970's, Richard and Thekla Sanford sold their namesake winery to partner Terlato Wines International in 2005 and started Alma Rosa. The couple's new venture made a splashy entrance with its graphic floral label, screwcapped bottles, sustainable and organic farming practices and a wine makeover that showcases bracing acidity and bright fruit. 'This new winery has allowed us to move in new directions with our wines - more acid, less alcohol, modern wines that work with modern foods,' says Richard Sanford.

Now in the second vintage, Alma Rosa wines - Pinots Noir, Blanc and Gris, Chardonnay and a Vin Gris - are elegant, with restrained but luscious fruit.

Sanford has found his winemaking paradise in the Santa Rita Hills, an area he long ago determined similar to Burgundy and hospitable to Pinot Noir. Sanford cites an east-west valley that runs from the vineyards to the ocean as 'the most important feature in our area', allowing the grapes to benefit from a marine influence.
The couple's respect for nature is reflected on the back labels, which read: 'Nature and agriculture in sustainable harmony. Particularly these days with global warming, we all have to be more responsible about the environment. We all have to work together.'

Pinot Noir: Chasing Greatness

This Los Angeles Times article describing the ever increasing popularity of Pinot Noir confirms Richard Sanford’s place as a Pinot Noir pioneer, saying “Pinot's calling card is terroir expression, its uncanny ability to convey a distinct sense of place, just in its aromas and flavors. No other grape is as evocative; none has its powers of seduction … Santa Rita Hills in Santa Barbara County shares this reputation for fruit intensity. Thirty years ago the region was considered too cold, too marginal and too exotic for any but the most stubborn of winemakers — such as Richard Sanford, whose leafy, cool weather Pinots benefited from a fair amount of time in the bottle…”

Click here to read the full article.

Full Circle, Four Winemakers Retool for the Future

“Not many people on the local wine scene go back as far as Richard and Thekla Sanford. The Sanfords were instrumental in planting the Sanford & Benedict Vineyard along Santa Rosa Road in 1971, making it one of the oldest vineyards in Santa Barbara County … The Sanfords also made local history by establishing the first certified organic vineyards in the area. … They used these vineyards to create a new winery, Alma Rosa. These vineyards are, of course, still farmed organically and the Sanfords are continuing their commitment to sustainable farming, sustainable winery operations, and their uncompromising philosophies.”

Click here to read the full article.

Lust for the Must by James Laube

“In the eternally fascinating wine world, vintners bow out of one winery to start another. For some it’s like the metamorphosis from caterpillar to butterfly. How else to explain Richard Sanford, the Pinot Noir prophet of Santa Barbara, leaving his namesake winery last year and soon after revealing that he was hatching a new endeavor called Alma Rosa?”

Click here to read the full article.