WINEMAKER AND GENERAL MANAGER
Steve Fennell joined Sanford in February 2006 in a return to his wine roots. As an undergraduate at the University of California Santa Barbara, Steve pedaled his bicycle through the area's vineyards, taking in the sights, smells, and the famous cooling breezes. A student of earth sciences, Steve was inspired by his grandfather, who was a grapevine plant breeder, to combine his studies with a fast growing love for the nuances of wine.
After studying enology at the University of California Davis, he began his career as an assistant winemaker at Trefethen Vineyards, where he honed his skills helping to improve fruit quality, managing the cellar and making blends. From 1999 to 2006, Steve was at Voss Vineyards as head winemaker and vineyard manager. Steve also worked two vintages with Yalumba in the Barossa Valley.
In his time at Sanford, Steve’s wines have earned more than twenty 90+ point ratings from Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast, and the Wine Advocate, including a 95 point rating for the 2009 La Rinconada Vineyard Pinot Noir. At Sanford, Fennell working under the guidance of the Terlato family’s vision has the opportunity and responsibility for the stewardship of iconic vineyards including Sanford & Benedict, considered “one of the best vineyards for Burgundian varietals in the world.”
Steve’s integrated approach in the both the vineyards and the winery has led to the identification of variations in soil, aspect, and clonal type within Sanford’s estate vineyards. Small lot vinification has helped to highlight the subtle differences in microclimate and clonal selection throughout the estate. This gave birth to the block designated wines that truly capture the unique terroir of the estate.
Steve remains an avid cyclist in addition to staying active by running, sailing, hiking and surfing.