Friday, December 13, 2013

Sanford Winery

100 California Wineries

I can't think of a nicer way to spend a chilly afternoon than drinking a glass of wine in front of a fire.  There weren't a lot of people out and about last Sunday, which was fine with me.  For sunny southern California, it was cold, cold, cold.  We actually had to scrape ice off our windshield that morning.  The grape vines are now bare.  The ground is brown and hard.  The sky is gray.  So our hostess at the Sanford Winery poured us a couple of bonus rounds for simply showing up!

I had not been to this winery since it changed ownership a few years ago.  Now owned by Terlato Wines International, it has a new venue with a bigger and more inviting tasting room.  Most wine lovers know this place (the old venue, that is) by Sideways, that wonderful movie that created quite a tourist boom for local wineries.  It is at Sanford where Giametti raves about the Pinot Noir and makes that scathing comment, "I'm not drinking any bleeping Merlot."

I've got nothing against Merlot, but Pinot Noir reigns supreme in this particular viticultural area.  It was actually Richard Sanford himself who planted the first Pinot Noir grapes here.  He recognized the potential of the area for producing these rich, juicy grapes that are bright red and full of flavor.  They need a long hang life and get one here in the Santa Rita Hills of California.  The inland valleys get hot in the summer, but the coastal areas remain cool and foggy.  The soil is rich in calcium and microscopic diatoms, which are found nowhere else in California.  The hills around nearby Lompoc are dusted with this chalky diatomaceous earth.

Sanford has always been my "go to" wine for special occasions.  I adore their Chardonnay in the summer, and of course, their Pinots are sublime.  They have a flight of Pinot Noirs and I highly recommend this group for wine tasting.  Be forewarned, however, they can get pricey--about $50-$60 per bottle.  Worth every penny!  We ended up buying two bottles, which we will take with us to Mexico over the holidays to share with friends.  Can't wait!

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