Bob and Barb Zorich, Proprietors
Alma Rosa Proprietors Bob and Barb Zorich met at UC Santa Barbara, where they both graduated in 1971. After a stint in London, Bob & Barb settled in Houston and raised their three children, while Bob built a successful private equity company, Encap Investments, with business partners. Affection for their idyllic oceanside college town eventually led Bob and Barb back to Santa Barbara to purchase a second home.
In 2013, the Zorichs were introduced to Richard and Thekla Sanford, who were selling their ranch and winery, Alma Rosa. Fond of the region and its excellent Pinot Noirs, the Zorichs purchased Alma Rosa the following year, began expanding the estate vineyards and built a stunning tasting room in downtown Buellton.
Today, the Zorichs are committed to creating wines of quality and distinction that express the special terroir of the Sta. Rita Hills. In addition to Pinot Noir, the Zorichs have found that the cool climate created by the region’s unique East-West transverse mountain range is ideal for Chardonnay and some Rhone varietals. The Alma Rosa estate vineyard is now planted to 55% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay and 15% Syrah and Grenache. The next horizon for the family is building a new winery on the estate that incorporates the best winemaking practices, while honoring the land and environment.
Richard Sanford, Founder and Winery Ambassador
Richard Sanford was inducted into the Vintner’s Hall of Fame in 2012 for his contributions to the California wine industry. Following his service in Vietnam, Richard Sanford dreamed of discovering a West Coast climate zone similar to the Burgundy region of France and producing wine that would rival the best in the world. With a degree in Geography from UC Berkeley, he identified a remarkable geographic anomaly: the transverse mountain ranges of California where the valleys open to the west, allowing cool maritime air to moderate the growing climate.
After locating acreage with well-drained soils in the targeted climate zone, Richard planted the first Pinot Noir vineyard in the Central Coast in 1971 — the Sanford & Benedict Vineyard. A decade later, he and his wife Thekla founded Sanford Winery, where they produced award-winning wines for over 25 years.
In 2005, the Sanfords launched Alma Rosa Winery to pursue their commitment to organic farming and sustainable business practices. Today, those practices are continued by Bob & Barb Zorich, who purchased Alma Rosa Winery in 2014.
Samra Morris, Winemaker
Born and raised in Bosnia, Morris holds both her Bachelors and Masters degrees in Food Sciences from The University of Sarajevo, College of Agricultural and Food Sciences. Post-graduation, Morris interned in the Department of Enology at The University of Sarajevo before deciding to pursue a winemaking career.
Morris got her start as a tasting room associate in Napa Valley, then went on to intern in the vineyard for St. Supery, spent three harvests as a harvest intern for esteemed winemaker Thomas Rivers Brown and was part of the cellar team for Michael Mondavi Family Estate. In 2017, Morris joined the Free Flow Wines team as a lab assistant, was promoted to lab supervisor the following year and then to QC manager in 2019, where she was responsible for managing wine and product quality for canning and kegging.
Tony Biagi, Consulting Winemaker
Veteran winemaker Tony Biagi brings decades of experience to his role as consulting winemaker with Alma Rosa.
Biagi graduated with a degree in fermentation science from the University of California, Davis in 1995 and immediately joined Duckhorn as the winemaker for the company’s new Paraduxx Winery. In March 2003, Biagi joined the Plumpjack Group, where he remained for nearly 10 years, serving as Winemaker for Plumpjack and becoming the founding Winemaker of Cade. Today Biagi has his own wine brand, Patria, and is winemaker for Hourglass Winery. He has an active consultancy, which includes coaching Alma Rosa winemaker Samra Morris.
“Sta. Rita Hills is proving to be one of the most exciting regions in California for wine,” Biagi says. “It is just warm enough in a cold spot,” he adds emphasizing the potential in the region for Chardonnay and Pinot, as well as Rhone varietals.
Biagi spends a couple of days each month with Samra at Alma Rosa. “I cannot exaggerate how talented Samra is,” he says. “She has an amazing palate and leaves no stone unturned in her pursuit to make great wine.”
Wine critic Antonio Galloni of Vinous named Biagi “Vintner of the Year” in January 2021.
Debra Eagle, General Manager
Debra Eagle brings over 25 years of wine industry experience to her role at Alma Rosa, having directed marketing and sales for some of the country’s most important wine brands, including the iconic Robert Mondavi Winery, multi-million case Sutter Home Winery and the exclusive BOND.
Eagle is overseeing the construction of the new winery on Alma Rosa’s 628-acre estate, as well as focusing on the continued improvement of Alma Rosa’s vineyards and wines and the expansion of the winery’s distribution in select markets.
Northern California native Eagle holds her MBA from the Haas School of Business, UC Berkeley, and a BA in Economics from Mills College. She is an avid reader, open water swimmer and hiker, and she and her husband are making the most of all that the coastal regions of Santa Barbara County have to offer.
Channing Jones, DTC Sales and Marketing Director
Channing Jones is the DTC Sales and Marketing Director for Alma Rosa Winery. She grew up in Ojai, California, where she helped her grandfather work on the family vineyard and winery, Sagebrush Annies.
After graduating high school, Channing traveled the world to explore other cultures and create memories and experiences that she ultimately brought home. Upon returning to California with the desire to get back into the wine industry, Channing studied entrepreneurship at Santa Barbara City College, and she has made the wine business her focus for the past 6 years in Santa Barbara County.
Channing lives with her husband in Solvang, CA.