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At California’s Sanford Winery: A Pinot Noir Pioneer

Where: 5010 Santa Rosa Rd [map], Lompoc, CA, United States, 93436
August 22, 2012 at 11:13 AM | by | ()

You've seen the 2004 movie "Sideways," right? It played on HBO for, like, a straight year, we swear. Well, if you have then you've already seen Sanford Winery, one of the stars of the film focusing on California wine tasting. Luckily for everyone, it's not fictional.

Sanford sits in the Santa Rita Hills AVA, a reasonably adolescent wine region if you were to make the mistake of comparing it to the older Napa Valley Area. About a decade ago it was officially given the AVA (American Viticultural Area) designation. Owing its popularity to "Sideways," the whole region has actually been producing various Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs since the early 70s, when Sanford Winery started planting the first Pinot Noir vines in the area.

These vineyards are nestled between the uncommon east-west mountain valleys, making for a perfect natural climate and protection of the very delicate vines for which Sanford meticulously cares.

While recently staying in the Santa Barbara area, we took a very scenic drive to see what all the fuss was about.

When we arrived it was still sunny but it also felt noticeably cooler than 30 miles away, back near the ocean. In other words, it was ideal weather for al fresco tasting and a tour of the grounds. As the sun set and the temperatures dropped we sought refuge in the vaulted Barrel Room for dinner.

Sanford does have a few different tasting options, such as the Classic Flight ($15/person) and the weekend-only Winemaker’s Flight ($20/person). Private wine tastings and tours are absolutely available by appointment if you desire something more intimate.

Naturally we recommend the Winery Tasting and Tour Package, which takes place on Saturdays and Sundays at 12pm and 2pm. Reservations are not required but are suggested since the groups are limited to 16 people. Prices are $25/person which gets you an in-depth tour of the grounds followed by a tasting of six different wines.

Jaunted’s Favorite: The Dominio Del Falcon Pinot Noir. It may be one of the more expensive options but it's rich, velvety palate and local name (for the falcons who live on top of the nearby hills) made it a stand-out for us.

The hours at Sanford are currently:
Sunday - Thursday 11am - 4pm
Friday - Saturday 11am - 5pm

Disclosure: We visited Sanford Winery as a guest of Toyota, but all opinions presented here are completely our own.

[Photos: P. Maggetti and Steve D/Jaunted]

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