Candlelight Dinner with Richard Sanford

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Although I might be most comfortable in Wranglers and a plaid shirt, I do love to step it up a notch to share the true beauty of ranch life. So, for the last of our 2018 ranch events, or “Gatherings,” I decided to host a dinner that showcased the elegant side of California ranch life. What better way to do this than a wine-focused dinner? On November 11th, 2018, I invited our dear family friends, Richard and Thekla Sanford, to come to Rancho San Julian and talk to us about their story and their very long history with wine and agriculture in the nearby Sta. Rita Hills. 

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The event began at sundown, when we gathered on the front lawn of the “Casa,” the old house that is our ranch headquarters. Richard raised a glass of his Alma Rosa 2015 Brut and toasted to the year that had past and all that is to come. As the light dwindled, our guests walked the grounds with my father, Jim Poett, and he told us about how and when the house was built, in three different sections, over the course of almost 100 years. 

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Dinner was held in the oldest part of the house, the “Cowboys Dining Room,” which was built around 1820 and has adobe walls, stone floors, and a warm, open fireplace. My friends Katie Rose Hames and Blakeney Sanford had helped me decorate this beautiful and sacred space with natural treasures that we found around the ranch, including some of the heirloom pumpkins, ears of rainbow corn, and dried corn leaves that we had grown in the Rancho Pumpkin Patch.

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Katie Rose and I prepared the meal, and Richard and Thekla generously provided wines from Alma Rosa Winery. The meal began with a ginger pumpkin soup with fresh croutons served in a pumpkin, and a fresh market salad with persimmons, pomegranate and a citrus dressing, all paired with a 2015 Chardonnay - El Jabalí. This was followed by braised Rancho San Julian short ribs with whipped garlic potatoes paired with two wines, a 2016 Pinot Noir - Bentrock and a 2015 Pinot Noir - Sta. Rita Hills. The meal ended with a rich chocolate cake served with honey cream on the side. 

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It was a true honor to have both Richard and Thekla Sanford around our table. They have been true pioneers in the Sta. Rita Hills and their love for this valley and dedication for excellence has always inspired me. This was a dinner I will remember for years to come, and I am so grateful to all who made it possible. 

Please be sure to check out Gatherings for upcoming events. We hope to host you on the ranch soon!

Elizabeth Poett

Photos by Blakeney Sanford