Richard Sanford dreamed of discovering a local climate zone similar to the Burgundy region of France, growing Pinot Noir in California, and producing wine that would rival the best in the world. Using his background in Geography and studying the climates of California since 1900, Richard identified a remarkable geographic anomaly: the transverse mountain range of California where the valleys open to the west, allowing cool maritime air to moderate the growing climate.
After locating acreage with well drained soils in the chosen climate zone Richard organized a partnership to purchase a ranch, and there he planted the first Pinot Noir vineyard in the region, establishing Sanford & Benedict Vineyard in 1971.
In 1976 Richard met his future wife, Thekla Brumder, just in time for the first vintage at Sanford & Benedict Vineyard. They were married in 1978, and in 1981 they founded Sanford Winery together, and for the next 25 years the winery produced award-winning wines sold nationwide and exported to sixteen countries.
In 1983 the Sanfords planted their first 100% organic vineyard at Rancho El Jabalí. El Jabalí and La Encantada vineyards were the first in Santa Barbara County to be certified organic.
The Sandfords are comitted to sustainability and the El Jabali estate vineyards continue to be certified organic.
Differences in business philosophy led to a separation from their namesake winery in 2005. Richard and Thekla started in a new direction to found Alma Rosa Winery & Vineyards, continuing their personal commitment to organic farming and sustainable business practices.