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Winemaker Steve Fennell for Sanford Winery and Vineyard

Winemaker Steve Fennell for Sanford Winery and Vineyard

Steve Fennell, winemaker and general manager at Sanford Winery and Vineyards, found his passion for wine at a young age.

After studying enology in college, Fennell began his career in the wine industry as an assistant winemaker at Trefethen Vineyards, a well-known winery in Napa Valley. During his time there, Fennell created new blends and learned how to improve fruit quality.

Since then, Fennell has been recognized for his wines as head winemaker at Voss Vineyards and for his current work at Sanford Winery. Fennell shared his motto when it comes to producing great wine.

According to, Fennell explained, “I bring an integrated approach that draws on my expertise in the vineyard as well as in winemaking,” said Fennell. “For me, it’s about treating the soil with respect, achieving consistent and high-quality grapes and crafting elegant, fruit-forward wines that are the finest expression of the Sta. Rita Hills.”

Santa Barbra’s Sanford & Benedict vineyard is well-recognized for emitting very similar climate and soil conditions as the Burgundy region in France, known as Pinot Noir’s home. Accordingly, business has been fruitful ever since Sanford planted their first Pinot Noir.

The vineyard produces some of the most unique Pinot Noir in the world. explains their work as, “[w]onderfully aromatic, its flavors are plush yet structured, with lively acidity and ripe tannins.”

Doug Fletcher, vice president of winemaking of Terlato Wine Group, shares how Fennell’s wine expertise aids to the making of Sanford’s celebrated wine selection.

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According to, Fletcher said, “Everyone wants to make Pinot Noir, but to make a great one you have to have an impeccable palate. [Fennell] has one of the best in the industry, and I enjoy collaborating with him on making the most challenging of varietals.”

Fennell joined Sanford Winery in 2006 and one year later, Sanford joined forces with Terlato Wines, whose Chicago origins date back to 1958. Terlato Wines is home to many wineries such as Rutherford Hill, Chimney Rock and Chapoutier, in addition to their partnership with NFL legend Mike Ditka.

Anthony Terlato, Chairman of Terlato Wines, and his two sons have been very successful in the wine industry. Recently, Terlato received Wine Enthusiast magazine’s Lifetime Achievement Award at the annual Wine Star Awards in New York. Throughout four generations, this talented family has continued to grace the world with delectable wines.

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