It is internationally agreed that one of the best areas for growing Pinot Noir in the US is the Santa Rita Hills near Santa Ynez Valley. This is an east-west-running valley spreading from Buellton towards the coast, and not too surprisingly, one of the less-crowded spots around for wine tasting.
It’s here that Alma Rosa’s owner and winemaker, Richard Sanford – who is credited with being the father of Pinot Noir in this area and has given his name (and brand) to Sanford Winery down the road – is busy crafting his beloved wines like they were his own children. First, in a tin-roofed ramshackle hut on Santa Rosa Road, and now, in a beautiful modern, natural tasting room on Industrial Way in Buellton.
His organic and sustainable approach to grape growing pays off in the many Pinot Noirs offered on the Alma Rosa tasting list at any one time. Also on the list are a Vin Gris (rosé of Pinot Noir) Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc and several (Pinot) Chardonnays. This guy loves his pinot.
And we do, too. The last time I tasted, there were several tastings: an overall tasting (all the white varietals plus several pinots), an entire Pinot Noir tasting, and if you’re luck, their Sparkling Wine. This list offers various pinot clones from various vineyards with prices ranging from $20 to $49 per bottle, about 5 at any one time. You’re pretty much guaranteed to find one you like. And one your mom will like, your dog-sitter, even your ex the wine snob.
Whether you’re just staring to become pinot-obsessed or have full-fledged pinot envy, Alma Rosa is the best place in California to satisfy the craving.