Over the last few days I’ve been tasting a great deal of wine. So when I came across a winemaker that made a serious impression on me, instinctively I wanted to know more. Here’s the story:
Sanford Winery was the last tasting of the day for me in Santa Barbara, CA, a town loaded with local winemakers that have shops and tasting rooms dotting the town. At Sanford’s tasting room, I noticed a level of complexity and depth in the wines I was tasting- an impression that showed a great level of care, as my palate began to compare these new world wines to old world wines, finding more in common than most of the wines I’d found from this region. I needed to find out more.
A few calls later and a nice trip up the Pacific Coast Highway found me in the beautiful hills of Lompoc.
Sanford Winery (owned by the Terlato Wine Group) has a lovely tasting room, but fortune had smiled upon me. Not only did I get a chance to see the grapes up close, but they were bottling and I was able to see the process from vine to bottle, in its entirety.
For the wine lover, it’s a huge (and incredibly rare) treat to be able to walk through a winery with the employees, see everything from the vines to the hoppers, crushers, stainless steel fermentation vats, filtration tubs, french oak barrels, the cold pressing and filtration systems, and top it off with bottling!
But of course, that’s only the tip of the iceberg. Every single person I met at Sanford was both happy and passionate about their work. Everyone smiles, wanted to shake my hand and chat about their work while they continued their jobs- with fire in their eyes and love for the process. I noticed as we walked through the property… this person had been here for ten years, this person, twelve… 18, 20, even employees who have been with the company for over 24 years. Its impressive!
That passion and love for making a great product shows. Not only can you see it in the eyes and faces of the employees, but you taste the difference in their wines!
Maybe you noticed that I didn’t bother giving you any tasting notes about these wines. In the last week, I’ve tasted hundreds of wines. While some were lousy and some were great, many were nice but very few of them made a serious impact on me. The people and the products from Sanford Winery made an impact on me, and after meeting them and seeing their operation up close, I knew that tasting notes would not be what I wanted to share with you. Instead, I wanted to share with you the passion I experienced in drinking their wines, because that same passion was apparent in every person I met at Sanford and every element of my experience visiting the winery.
Tasting a beautiful wine might make you question your adoration for wines from other world regions. For this wine lover and reputed French wine snob, I was duly impressed by a current club-offering pinot which compares beautifully to northern burgundy, in the nose, color, palate, and finish. If you are an oenophile, you might know what that means to me, and what high praise it is. It’s why I wanted to take the trek to walk among the vines, touch the grapes, meet the people behind the magic in the bottle at Sanford- because they made a significant impression on me, and that’s why I needed to share Sanford with you. I have seen it ever so rarely: Passion, in the bottle.
à votre santé!