Sanford Winery Estate Chardonnay, Sta. Rita Hills Appellation 2019

Medium gold color; apple, Meyer lemon, white flowers, brioche on the nose; ripe yellow apple, starfruit, passion fruit, apricot, lime, vanilla, oak on the palate.

Sanford Winery Estate Chardonnay, Sta. Rita Hills Appellation 2019

Dry; begins soft, generous on the initial attack, then saline notes and outstanding acidity (3.37 pH) arrive mid-palate and through the extended finish. Rich, buttery (100% malolactic fermentation). Oak notes include vanilla, oak, and oak spice from 11 months in French oak, 16% new. Whole-cluster pressed and barrel fermented. Medium body. 13.5% ABV

Pure chardonnay play. Grapes for this effort came from the historic Sanford & Benedict Vineyard and the adjacent La Rinconda Vineyard. The Sta. Rita Hills Appellation is the westernmost wine-growing area of the Santa Barbara AVA. It is located in northern Santa Barbara County between the towns of Lompoc and Buellton. Mt. Carmel, the highest point in the appellation, frames the Sanford & Benedict vineyard in the background. The Pacific Ocean is just 10 miles away and is key to the cool-climate agriculture. The valleys run east-to-west, funneling cold ocean air into the appellation. The original name in 2001 was Santa Rita Hills, but it was changed to Sta. Rita Hills—period mandatory—in 2007.

Sanford senior winemaker Trey Fletcher

Trey Fletcher is the senior winemaker, a job he took over in 2019, so this is the first vintage when he was responsible for all winemaking decisions. Fletcher earned a degree in viticulture and enology at Fresno State. He then began a globe-trotting career in wine in Europe, South Africa, and New Zealand. Returning to the States, he worked at Littoria Winery where he learned the processes of biodynamic, organic, and sustainable practices in the vineyard and winery. He then worked at Bien Nacido Vineyards before joining Sanford.

Sanford traces its roots to the early 1970s when botanist Michael Benedict and his friend Richard Sanford searched the region for a location for cool-climate grapes, pinot noir and chardonnay specifically. First planted in 1971, the Sanford & Benedict vineyard became the backbone of the Sta. Rita Hills appellation. Sanford and Benedict went separate ways in 1980, but the Sanford Winery continued. In 2002, the Terlato family became partners in the Sanford Winery. In 2005, Terlato became majority owners and managing partners. In 2007, the Terlatos purchased the Sanford & Benedict vineyard.

John Terlato and Michael Benedict

The Terlato Wine Group (TWG) is a four-generation American, family-owned wine company based in Lake Bluff, Illinois. The Terlatos place an admirable emphasis on building a strong, family-owned and operated company. Participation, however, must be earned. Each Terlato must work outside the family business and rise to a management position before they achieve a place in the Terlato management team. Anthony Terlato, the family patriarch received Wine Enthusiast’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2015. Their guiding principle: quality first because quality endures. They are the largest seller of luxury wines in the United States.

Sanford Winery Estate Chardonnay, Sta. Rita Hills Appellation 2019 is a rich, opulent pure chardonnay effort. Excellent acidity thanks to Sta. Rita Hills cool climate. Ripe fruits star, with appropriate oak elements performing well in supporting roles. Excellently smooth in the mouth, but with engaging notes of saline and acidity to deliver complexity and interest, especially from mid-palate through a satisfying finish. Pair with chicken dishes, roasted chicken; pork; rich fish—salmon, tuna, cod; sushi; pasta dishes with white sauces; vegetarian fare. Cheese—semi-soft, triple-cream cheeses; nutty, fruity fontina; camembert; blue cheeses; cheddar. $40-45

Sanford website

Terlato Wines website

Sanford & Benedict Vineyard
Sanford La Rinconda Vineyard
Sanford vineyard
Sanford Winery
Sanford fermentation tanks
Sanford cellar
Terlato family