In the Sta. Rita Hills, it all began with Sanford
Botanist Michael Benedict and his friend Richard Sanford were committed to finding a cool climate region and location with just enough heat accumulation to ripen, but not over ripen, wine grapes. A location where they could plant and grow grapes and craft wines, where the quality might equal the best of the best in Europe.
Michael began researching and touring the cool coastal regions of California in search of a region and site that would suit this mission. After an incredible amount of research, observation, collection of data and analysis, Michael believed he had found the perfect location - one which possessed just the right combination of weather patterns, overall cool climate and varying soil conditions. His analysis took him to a unique part of the Santa Ynez Valley in Santa Barbara County and right to the foot of the property that would ultimately become the Sanford & Benedict vineyard. The first vines were planted in 1971, and soon the Pinot Noir from this remote vineyard created a buzz. Others soon followed, wanting to capture the magic of this place. It was the Sanford & Benedict Vineyard which would form the backbone of what is now the Sta. Rita Hills AVA and it was also this vineyard that supplied the cuttings for many of the surrounding vineyards.
The team of Michael Benedict and Richard Sanford would go separate ways after the 1980 vintage and the Sanford Winery continued its existence. Through the years, Sanford Winery remained notable in the region for its pioneering history and for producing wines of high quality from the Sanford & Benedict Vineyard.