Owner(s) Bill Cates, Jeff Fink
Web site www.tantarawinery.com
Link to this site

Jeff Fink and Bill Cates are co-proprietors and co-winemakers at Tantara Winery which is located at Bien Nacido Vineyards. They are both from Virginia who met up in California and founded Tantara in 1997. The two produce a broad range of Pinot Noirs, Syrahs, and Chardonnays from multiple sources primarily within Santa Barbara County. They farm 14 acres in Bien Nacido Vineyards. The label prominently features a horse once owned by Bill Cates named Tantara.

Jeff has departed in late 2011 to pursue other interests. The winery became named Dominion Tantara.

The wines are sold primarily through a mailing list and online from the website. Tasting is by appointment. 805-938-5051.

Reviewed Wines

2008 Tantara Bien Nacido Vineyard Old Vine Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir

14.8% alc., pH 3.50, 167 cases, $48. Own-rooted Pommard 4 clone planted in 1973 (G Block). Average yields 1.9 tons per acre. 80% de-stemmed. Aged 16 months in 30% new French oak. · A spirited nose offers flamboyant aromas of black cherries and spice box including star anise. The wine pumps out the aromas consistently over time in the glass. Tasty core of plum, black cherry and dark berry flavors with an appealing spice and earthy undertone. This wine literally tastes like the earth in which it is grown. Veers slightly to the ripe side but does not cross the line. Moderately rich with a smooth mouth feel, supple tannins, and a clean finish. Bien Nacido Vineyard at its best. Reviewed March 2, 2011 ARTICLE »

2008 Tantara La Colline Vineyard Arroyo Grande Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., pH 3.40, 383 cases, $48. La Colline is part of Laetitia Vineyard, located four miles inland from the Pacific Ocean at the base of Picacho Peak, an extinct volcano. Own-rooted Martini clone planted in 1981. Average yields 2.1 tons per acre. 80% de-stemmed, 20% whole cluster fermented with native yeast. Aged 16 months in 40% new French oak barrels. · The nose is primary with subdued fruit and aromas of wet leaf, earth and subtle oak. Dark red fruits are discreetly composed with an earthy, grilled mushroom underpinning. Beautifully balanced with supple tannins and juicy acidity. Plenty of charming fruit waiting to get out in this backward wine. Patience will be rewarded. Very good. Reviewed March 2, 2011 ARTICLE »

2008 Tantara Solomon Hills Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., pH 3.40, 387 cases, $48. From a 97-acre vineyard located 14 miles from the Pacific Ocean with a strong maritime influence. Clones are Dijon 777, 667, 115, 2A, and Pommard 5 planted in 1999. 80% destemmed with 20% whole cluster. Aged 16 months in 30% new French oak barrels. · Opens slowly in the glass, seducing you gradually. Enticing aromas of dark cherries with a hint of dark chocolate and spice. Amazingly persistent on the palate and through the lengthy finish. The flavors of plum and black cherry are intense and vivid, yet the wine retains a charming, silky finesse. Even better the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Angelina Jolie in dark red velvet. Reviewed March 2, 2011 ARTICLE »

2007 Tantara Evelyn Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir

14.6% alc., $90. · Dark reddish-purple color in the glass. The nose is darkly fruited with heavy emphasis on oak related scents of smoke and mocha java. Thick and rich on the palate, with a generous offering of dark stone fruits, black cherries, and cassis with underpinnings of coffee and tobacco, all wrapped in soft tannins. Almost syrupy in texture and Schwarzenneggarish in heft. The oak peeks out on the dry finish. Needs time in the cellar to integrate the oak. Good. Reviewed November 7, 2010 ARTICLE »

2006 Tantara Solomon Hills Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir

Cleanskin. Clone 777. · Dark reddishpurple hue in the glass. Aromas of black cherries, black raspberries and spice. Pushes the ripeness envelope with big, bold dark fruit flavors. Nicely balanced tannins and welcome juiciness, the wine has noticeable verve. Good. Reviewed July 21, 2013 ARTICLE »

2006 Tantara Pisoni Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

14.6% alc., $60. · The black cherry fruit scents really jump out of the glass augmented by aromas of vanilla and brioche. Very tasty and intense dark cherry and berry fruit flavors with an earthy undertone. Soft and smooth on the palate with supple tannins, noticeable absence of oak, and a dry, lengthy, fruity finish. Thoroughly enjoyable and highly recommended. Score: 91. Reviewed October 3, 2009 ARTICLE »

2006 Tantara Evelyn Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir

150 cases, $90. This wine was first produced in 1998 and honors Evelyn Waldron, co-owner Bill Cates’ mother who passed away in 1998. This wine is a cuvee, meant to represent the pinnacle of the vintage. It is not always the biggest wine in scale, but with great balance and finesse. It contains a bit more whole cluster than the other Tantara single vineyard wines. The wine is built around Pinot Noir from Block 1 at Bien Nacido Vineyard, planted to Mt. Eden and 115 clones. The particular block the grapes are sourced from is extremely stressed and low yielding, producing intense fruit. Some fruit is also blended from Dierberg Vineyard and/or Solomon Hills Vineyard, and some from Santa Rita Hills, depending on what best harmonizes. Release date is July 26, 2008. · This wine almost brought me to my knees. Seamless in every way, it was brimming with pinotosity. An extroverted nose, tannin so fine as to be imperceptible, and a long, chewy finish. The velvety mouth feel was remarkable. Worth every penny. Reviewed July 7, 2008 ARTICLE »

2004 Tantara Garys’ Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

15.1% alc.. · Very strange aromas like fresh paint. Completely over the hill with no fruit evident, leaving behind flavors of root beer and dark ale. Reviewed July 9, 2009 ARTICLE »

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