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Buellton winery: Alma Rosa Winery & Vineyards

The view from the now defunct tasting room on the Alma Rosa Ranch in Buellton, CA.
The view from the now defunct tasting room on the Alma Rosa Ranch in Buellton, CA.Anne Morein

Alma Rosa Winery and Vineyards

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Alma Rosa Winery and Vineyards is located along Santa Rosa Road in Buellton, CA. It is a California certified organicly farmed winery that prides itself on their green practices which include organic farming, sustainable agriculture, ecologically-responsible packaging, green building and wildlife protection.

It is owned and operated by Richard and Thelka Sanford who were previously associated with nearby Sanford Winery but separated with them in the early 2000s to create Alma Rosa. The Sanford’s have been growing grapes and making wines in the area since 1970. Richard Sanford discusses his Philosophy and the environmental aspects of the winery on their website.

The tasting room has recently moved from its original location on the ranch to an interim tasting room in town. A quote from their Facebook page explains the need for the move and their plans for the future.

“We no longer own the land that the tasting room is on, which makes it necessary for us to move. We DO own the land adjacent to the El Jabali Vineyard and we will be creating a new space there in the coming years! In the meantime, see you in Buellton!

“… we are moving from our sweet tasting room to 181 C Industrial Way in Buellton while we build a new winery and tasting room near the vineyard on our ranch! … Please come and see us there and join us on our journey!

On a recent visit to the winery it had not yet been announced they would be closing that location and moving the operation into town. Perhaps it is a good thing the tasting room is being revamped and relocated. It was on the small side with a minute amount of counter space. They claim to have an additional area for tasting however it was never open in the few times I have been to the winery. Another drawback to the original space was the difficulty in locating it down various dirt roads far back on the property with little signage to direct your way.

The interim tasting room is open daily 11 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. except major holidays. A reservation is required for those groups of eight or more.

A recent tasting on the ranch included the following four wines at $12.

  • 2011 Pinot Noir – Mt. Eden Clone
  • 2011 Pinot Noir – Sta Rita Hills
  • 2011 Pinot Noir – Clone 115
  • 2011 Pinot Noir­ Clone 667

Alma Rosa has one of the more expensive tastings and no further offerings were made by the server when an interest was shown, which is common for most other wineries.

The staff was amicable but limited their conversation to basic information about the four wines included in the tasting. Inquiry into the environmental aspects and history of the winery got short responses of “yes”, “no” or “I don’t know”. More information is offered on their website then in the tasting room which is perhaps due to insufficient training of the staff but seemed more to be a disinterested server. It ended up being an incredibly short tasting, lasting 10 minutes with very little acknowledgment from the server after her initial cordial greeting.

The one plus side to this winery would be their policy on dogs visiting the tasting room. Showing up with a four-legged companion seems to be the best way to get the attention of the servers and it’s recommend you bring one if you would like to be spoken to during your visit.

Alma Rosa does have a slight social media presence with Facebook and Twitter accounts. These accounts give information and pictures from the ranch but do not expect to find discounts or specials to use when visiting the winery.

Environmentally conscious drinkers can stop by for a quick costly visit but don’t expect much information or wine to be passed along at Alma Rosa Winery and Vineyards.

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