Central Coast AVA
Some of the finest Pinot Noir on California's Central Coast
Nestled in one of the most picturesque and storied winegrowing regions in California, Dominion Tantara (originally Tantara Winery) began as a partnership between two friends and winemakers in 1997. Bill Cates and Jeff Fink, both from Virginia, shared a dream of building a world-class winery in California, and made it their mission to see it through. Today, while the ownership has changed hands, Santa Barbara County's Dominion Tantara crafts some of the finest Pinot Noir and Chardonnay on California's Central Coast.
Both Bill and Jeff had notably diverse backgrounds. Bill worked through a number of professions including horse training, construction, photography, and theatrical copy writing. He even took up organic farming during the 1970's and spent time growing American hybrid grapes while making homemade wine. Jeff, on the other hand, dabbled in music, sailing, and architecture. When the two met in the mid-1970's, they discovered a shared love of Pinot Noir and decided to one day create a world-class wine of their own.
That time came in 1997. Jeff Fink had the opportunity to work with fruit from the Central Coast's Laetitia Vineyard and Bien Nacido Vineyard and he was blown away by the quality of the fruit and knew this was the best location for their future winery endeavors. The journey to making the finest Central Coast Pinot Noir was finally on its way.
The name for the winery came from a horse Bill had owned while living in Virginia. At one point, Tantara was not expected to live much longer and she was retired to pasture. She ended up defying the odds and lived a long and healthy life. Horses also often symbolize elegance, grace and power - all of which are qualities embraced in Tantara's portfolio of extraordinary wines.
Over the years, Tantara Winery gained incredible critical acclaim for its wines, which were all produced from the most distinguished vineyards in the Sta. Rita Hills, Santa Maria Valley, and Santa Lucia Highlands. The increasingly focused portfolio of vineyard-designate wines continues to garner prestigious ratings and awards from the industry's top periodicals and competitions.
Eventually, both Bill Cates and Jeff Fink departed the winery to pursue other interests, and the entity was sold to Carlos Coelho, an enthusiastic and passionate Argentinian who is also the owner of an incredibly successful winery in Hungary (Haraszthy Vineyards). He works closely with Keith Nakamura, Tantara's COO, and esteemed winemaker Rick Hill to continue Tantara's high profile reputation on the Central Coast. The winery also eventually changed names to Dominion Tantara, marking a fresh start for the new ownership.
Winemaker Rick Hill, who has been associated with Tantara since the beginning, has an undeniable passion for Pinot Noir and a great respect for the Central Coast winegrowing region. His dedication to sourcing only the highest quality fruit and commitment to producing world-class wines continues to elevate Dominion Tantara's presence on the Central Coast. We applaud their efforts and hope our Gold Plus! Wine Club members enjoy their latest achievement. Cheers!
Map of the area
Dear Platinum Wine Club Members,
We at Tantara, a boutique winery located in Santa Barbara County, have been proud to produce critically acclaimed single vineyard Pinot Noirs since 1997, of which, the 2012 Pinot Noir, Tondre Grapefield is a great example.
The Tondre Grapefield (Vineyard) is located in the Santa Lucia Highlands in Monterey County, where the fog and ocean breezes flow in from the Monterey Bay, creating the cool climate necessary for premium Pinot Noir. This is a complex, deliciously decadent wine with a melange of teasing aromas such as black cherries, plums, slate, roses, and a hint of chocolate. A masculine Pinot Noir, that is both bold and eloquent!
Aria (Rick) Hill - Winemaker
Today, winemaking at Tantara Winery is overseen by Ariki (Rick) Hill. a New Zealand native with an undeniable passion for Pinot Noir and a great respect for the Central Coast wine growing region.
Together, Ariki and Bill are continuing Tantara Winery’s high profile reputation with an increasingly focused portfolio of vineyard-designate Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays from the region’s best vineyards (Jeff Fink departed the company in 2011 to pursue other interests). They both believe that the Central Coast is blessed with ideal growing conditions for these varietals, and it is their goal to transform this fruit into great wines, vintage after vintage.
Dear Platinum Wine Club Members,
Since 1997, we at Tantara pride ourselves in our Pinot Noirs that we produce in small 150-350 case batches from premium vineyards in the Central Coast of California. These wines are primarily available in fine dining establishments.
I have been on board since the 2008 vintage, starting as an assistant to our founder, Bill Cates. In 2011, I was promoted to winemaker and as such, you are enjoying my inaugural vintage.
This wine is also special to us, as it is the last year of these vines, having been planted in 1973, they have since been replaced with new plantings. I believe it is safe to say, they were one of the oldest Pinot Noir vines in Santa Barbara County at the time. And their age is what gives this wine its complex character of not only ripe mixed berries, but also tobacco, licorice, wild flowers, and mint!
Ariki "Rick" Hill
Bill Cates - Owner & Senior Winemaker
Bill Cates took over as Tantara's senior winemaker in 2011 when Jeff Fink departed the company to pursue other interests. Bill is now assisted by winemaker Ariki Hill, a New Zealand native with an undeniable passion for Pinot Noir and great respect for the wine growing region of California's Central Coast. Together, Bill and Ariki are continuing Tantara Winery's high profile reputation with an increasingly focused portfolio of vineyard-designate Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays from the best vineyards on the Central Coast. Bill and Ariki both believe that the Central Coast is blessed with ideal growing conditions for these varietals, and it is their goal that this bounty of nature be transformed into great wines, vintage after vintage.
As owner and senior winemaker, Bill Cates keeps a busy schedule, but not so busy as to give up one of his other passions in life - writing. Bill is the author of four books, two stage plays, and several screenplays. His wife Gwen is a local artist who provides the artwork for his books.
Bill's daughter Challen Cates holds a prominent role at the family winery, now serving as the vice president. She splits her time between there and Los Angeles, where she also maintains a career in acting. The Cates are certainly a creative family!