We visit a lot of wineries and belong to a lot of wine clubs. Sanford is easily in our top three...for quality of wine, for its beautiful location, for quality of tasting room experience, and for its excellent wine club prices and events. The staff are friendly, engaging, and knowledgable, and special commendation should go to John Bailey, the tasting room manager, for always trying to make the tasting room experience the best it can be. If you want a quiet, unobtrusive experience, they respect this. If you want to engage and learn about the wine, they are happy to share their knowledge. They are customer friendly and never over-bearing. I think Sanford wines are a great representation of the Sta. Rita Hills.
A little history: We've been members since before the split with original owner Richard Sanford (and still support his Alma Rosa winery and have tremendous respect for what he has done for this appellation). In fact, we boycotted Sanford Winery for a while because we were so upset by the split. One day, we begrudgingly visited "enemy territory", assuming that the wine would be terrible and the tasting room experience would feel "corporate". After the first few pours, my husband and I looked at each other, and I said, "Dang. This wine is fantastic!" Still skeptical, we started engaging the pourers; they were so friendly and "non-corporate" and nice that we walked out impressed and new wine club members.
Over the years, we have never been disappointed--with the wine or the wine tasting experience. If Winemaker Steve Fennell happens to be there during a wine tasting, he is always willing to stop for a moment to chat with visitors and to answer questions.
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