Plush and Forward Thinking: 2018 Alma Rosa Winery La Encantada Blanc

Santa Barbara County’s pioneering winemaker Richard Sanford has been known for his unexpectedly wonderful wines for many decades. He was recently honored as 2020 vintner of the year, a visionary in planting and producing wines in what is now called the Santa Rita Hills AVA [aka Sta Rita Hills]. His white and red wines have always been abundantly surprising.

This white is plusher than I would have expected after seeing the names of the grapes on the label. Produced from the only pinot blanc vineyards in this area – along with Sanford’s own pinot gris — this wine has rich, tropical flowers in the nose and tropical fruit on the palate, and plenty of mineral acidity. Fermented separately, the varietals were then blended and aged: 75% stainless steel and 25% in new French oak barrels, a process that adds butteriness to the flavor and texture.

Paired with food, the wine’s sweet stone and tropical fruitiness emerges, then dominates.

SUSTAINABILITY STATEMENT: All vineyards are farmed organically and sustainably.

WHO: Alma Rosa Winery

WHAT: 50% pinot blanc, 50% pinot gris

WHERE: Santa Rita Hills, Santa Barbara County, California

HOW MUCH: $35 (media sample)