Tatomer: beautiful wines from Santa Barbara, California, with a Riesling emphasis

Website: https://www.tatomerwines.com/

Graham Tatomer is from Santa Barbara, where Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Riesling were the three main varieties. ‘Riesling was difficult to sell in the USA,’ he says, ‘so it lost out to Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, and a lot was grafted over.’ Graham got to taste some surviving Rieslings, and he thought they were fantastic. This sparked him on a path of learning more about Riesling, and he started looking for the remaining Riesling vineyards in the region.

Emily and Graham Tatomer

He’s got international experience. In 2003 he spent a year working with Weingut Knoll in Austria’s Wachau region, in a bid to learn more about Riesling. He returned for two more harvests, and also discovered Grüner Veltliner during this time.

After making wine for other people, he’s been working with his own brand, Tatomer, since 2008. He started with 400 cases of dry Riesling from two vineyards in rented space. He’s since added two more Riesling vineyards plus two Grüner Veltliner vineyards and some Pinot Noir to his portfolio, focusing solely on the Central Coast of California. The wines are quite beautiful.


Tatomer Grüner Veltliner Meeresboden 2020 Santa Barbara County, California
12.5 % alcohol. The name of this wine means “Ocean Soil”, and in this case it is sand. This is a blend from several spots, with soils of sand, diatomaceous earth, and loam. Refined and textural with bright citrus fruit and a touch of ripe pear, and notes of aniseed and white pepper. Classy and understated this delivers good concentration, some varietal character and a twist of stony minerality on the finish. 93/100

Tatomer Riesling Vandenberg Vineyard 2021 Santa Barbara County, California
Pure and lively with some orange peel and some apricot hints, as well as lemon and pear fruit, with lots of generous fruit as well as good acidity and fine spices. Saline and precise with lovely fruit. Fine lemony finish. 94/100

Tatomer Riesling Kick-on Ranch 2019 Santa Barbara County, California
Beautiful crystalline citrus on the nose with real precision and purity. Concentrated and mineral on the palate with real density. It has a concentration of saline pear, peach and citrus fruit with a sense of richness but also precision. So many dimensions to this wine. 95/100

Tatomer Steinhügel Riesling 2022 Santa Lucia Highlands, California
This is 198 and 90 clones planted on decomposed granite. Wonderful aromatics with vivid lime, lemon and spice notes. Crystalline and mineral with a beautifully detailed palate, as well as fine spices. Very linear with a slight salinity: direct but textural. 94/100

Tatomer Sisquoe Valley Riesling 2011 Santa Maria Valley, California
Own rooted vines planted in 1968. Very low pH so very little sulfite addition here. Lovely citrus fruit nose is crystalline and bright, with a hint of development and some orange peel detail. Textured palate shows some minty notes. Very fine. 94/100

Tatomer Kick-On Ranch Riesling Beerenauslese 2011 Santa Barbara County, California
Golden in colour, this is powerful and intense. Layered and minty with lovely sweet apricot and lime fruit but also some savouriness. Vivid and fine, this is pure and brilliant with lots of personality. 95/100

Tatomer Wines Kick-on Ranch Pinot Noir 2020 Santa Barbara County, California
Close to the coast, with sandy soils. This site is mostly Riesling and Gruner Veltliner. The Kick-on Ranch Pinot Noir was often chemically unstable with high pH (3.9), but adding some new oak helped give it some stability, and some tannin and acid were added to bring it into a stable zone: this was a difficult decision. Before this, they could only make this wine once every three years. Beautifully aromatic, with sweet cherry and strawberry fruit, as well as some lovely fine green whole bunch characters, leading to a lively but supremely elegant palate with cherries, raspberries and some fine spices. Textural, fine, detailed and showing lovely complexity and elegance with real finesse. So fine. 96/100

Older notes:

Tatomer Kick-On Ranch Riesling 2017 Santa Barbara County, California
Generous with lovely pear and peach fruit. Very pure: has a hint of cabbage with nice precision and rich texture. Such a lovely fruit expression here with some apricot on the finish. A fruity style. 93/100