I Cook with Wine; Sometimes I Even Add It to the Food
If you’re a film buff as well as a wine fancier, you may remember Lompoc [correctly pronounced Lom-poke], California, as the locale of W.C. Field’s The Bank Dick (although the movie was entirely shot on the studio’s back lot). Lompoc can be translated as “Land of Many Lakes,” and is also known today as the Valley of Flowers, as this rich area is the nation’s most prolific flower-seed producing region.
Lompoc is also home to Sanford Winery, the first such operation in Santa Barbara wine country, established in 1971. From the very beginning, Sanford has sourced its Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays from the Santa Rita Hills, which was designated an AVA in 2001. The area owes its magic to an unusual east-west mountain valley that runs from the vineyards to the Pacific Ocean. This passage allows a meteorological ebb-and-flow of air temperature between the mountains and the sea that is ideal for cool-climate varietals.
The winery itself is located at Rancho La Rinconada. It was completed in 2001 and was inspired by traditional California mission architecture. The walls are constructed of adobe blocks handmade on site. The insulating quality of this material makes it ideal for a winery. With adobe walls thirty inches thick, there is no need for either heating or air conditioning. The cellar interior is 55º to 65º year-round with no energy use.
The winery uses a unique and gentle system to move wine through the facility: a gravity racking system. Four 3600-gallon wine tanks are positioned on hydraulic lifts. The winery crew can move a 14-ton tank of wine below ground or 20 feet in the air. The crew then uses gravity to move wine from tank to barrel (or bottling) without disruptive pumping and agitation of the wine.
Sanford Winery Sta. Rita Hills Chardonnay 2010
This wine was exclusively sourced from Sanford’s two estate vineyards and was fermented in both 60-gallon French oak barrels and stainless steel tanks.
The color is pale gold, with a delicate, ambiguous nose. This makes the intensity of this racy wine on the palate all the more surprising; plenty of bright citrus and pineapple notes supported by “just enough” oak, a bit of floral character, and a dollop of acidity.
I suggest you pair this Chard with Chicken Breast with Artichokes and Mustard Sauce, Smoked Turkey and Roasted Red Pepper Sandwiches, or Seared Scallops with Fiery Fruit Salsa.
Sanford Winery Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Nior 2010
Like the Chardonnay, this wine was exclusively sourced from Sanford’s two estate vineyards. It was then fermented in open-top stainless steel tanks, and finished in French oak barrels for 10 months.
The wine is ruby in the glass, with a nose of tart cherry and orange rind. The dominant cherry notes continue on to the palate; they are complemented by bright acidity and delicate tannins. In keeping with this wine’s subtlety, the body is light and the finish is rather short.
Serve this wine with Sauteed Duck Breast with Pinot Noir Sauce (just don’t squander this Pinot Noir on the sauce), or Salmon en Papillote.
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