A Burgundy fan, Richard Sanford graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in geography in 1965 but was immediately drafted into the Navy. He returned to civilian life in the late 1960s with a passion for Pinot Noir. With his geography background Richard researched the west coast for the perfect place to plant Pinot Noir vines. Recognizing the Transverse Mountain Range of California and cool maritime coastal climate of Santa Barbara County, with thermometer in hand, he selected a site, west of highway 101 in the Santa Ynez Valley. He was the first winemaker to prove the potential for Pinot Noir in the chilly Santa Rita Hills, founding Sanford & Benedict Vineyard in 1970. He and his wife Thekla founded Sanford Winery in 1981 and spent the next 24 years making some of the best-regarded Pinot Noir from the region. The first certified organic winegrowers of the County, the Sanfords left their namesake winery in 2005 and founded Alma Rosa Winery & Vineyards to continue their commitment to agriculture in harmony with nature.