(January 12, 2021; Buellton, Calif.)—Tony Biagi, consulting winemaker for Alma Rosa Winery, a leading producer from Santa Barbara County’s Sta. Rita Hills, has been named 2020 Winemaker of the Year (Napa Valley) by Antonio Galloni, founder of Vinous Media, one of the world’s most trusted and respected wine publications. Biagi made his first foray into Santa Barbara County in 2019 when he joined Alma Rosa as consulting winemaker, working with the estate’s winemaker, Samra Morris.
Biagi has built his career consulting some of the top wineries in Napa and Sonoma and is a co-owner in Hourglass and Patria wines. His clients have included Clos du Val, Sinegal, Amici, Lasseter and The Vineyardist. “Tony Biagi is not only gifted as a winemaker, he also has a talent for mentoring young, emerging winemakers,” notes Galloni. Morris, who was schooled in her native Bosnia before moving to California, was recruited to join Alma Rosa in 2019 from the Napa Valley, where she trained under winemaker Thomas Rivers Brown.
“One of the most exciting aspects of working with Alma Rosa is working with Samra Morris. Her determination and talent are infectious. It is a pleasure to work with someone so passionate and to assist on building upon the foundation that Richard Sanford created with Alma Rosa’s estate vineyard, El Jabali,” says Biagi.
“Samra is one of the smartest and most talented young winemakers we’ve met, and with Biagi by her side, Alma Rosa is creating its best wines ever,” adds Alma Rosa General Manager Debra Eagle.
Alma Rosa Winery was founded in 2005 by Santa Barbara wine pioneer Richard Sanford and purchased by Bob and Barb Zorich in 2014, allowing Richard to retire on the estate and continue in an ambassador, advisory role. Alma Rosa makes wines that are emblematic of the Sta. Rita Hills’ special terroir, which benefits from cool Pacific Ocean breezes that are funneled inland through the unique transverse mountain range of the region. With a long-term vision of elevating the winery and estate to express the best of the appellation, the Zorichs have opened a stunning tasting room in the heart of Buellton and assembled an industry-leading management and winemaking team. They have also developed 38 acres of vineyards across 5 non-contiguous sites on their 628-acre estate. The first wines from the new vineyards were produced from the 2019 vintage.
“We believe the Sta. Rita Hills, and particularly Alma Rosa’s estate, will one day be recognized among a select few spots in the world capable of producing truly great Chardonnay and Pinot Noir,” says Bob Zorich. “It is great to have talent such as Tony Biagi on our team, and we’re thrilled to see him get this well-deserved recognition for his work.”
To read Antonio Galloni’s full “2020: The Year in Review,” visit Vinous Media at: www.vinous.com/articles/2020-the-year-in-review-dec-2020