I began working in the wine business at the age of 16 for Santa Barbara Winery. Initially, it was a simple paycheck, but it soon grew into a passion and now, nearly two decades later, it has become my life's pursuit. Through my journey I have made Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Syrah, as well as numerous other varieties from some of the best vineyards throughout California's Central Coast. The sites that excite me have been the coldest ones, lending to wines of lighter weight, nuanced flavors, and bracing acidity. Riesling is the ultimate grape to pursue these characteristics. No other grape conveys its region's character and varietal flavor with the power, focus, and beauty the way Riesling does. I have been fortunate enough to work with one of the oldest cold-climate Riesling sites still left in California, Lafond Vineyard in the Santa Rita Hills. This site showed me that California's coastal regions are cool enough for this grape variety. I was hooked.
In 2003, I packed my bags and moved to Austria to try to get a better grip on the growing and making of Riesling. I was able to find work with Weingut Knoll who, more importantly, have become a second family to me. They also turned me on to the Grüner Veltliner grape. What initially was planned to be a ten-week trip; turned into a year and two additional harvests. I am appreciative of them, and the other winemakers in the Wachau, who offered good advice and answered my endless questions. From hand sorting Trockenbeerenauslese at midnight; to building stone terraces in the snow using the methods of ancient Rome, I left with much more knowledge and experience than I came with and am eternally grateful.
In 2008 I founded Tatomer with two Riesling vineyards. My intention was to use my knowledge to make bone-dry Riesling in California unlike many of the off-dry examples in the marketplace today. I made a mere 400 cases in a small corner of a good friend's boutique winery. Since then, I have added one more Riesling vineyard, as well as two Grüner Veltliner vineyards for a total production of 1,100 cases. I plan to explore the depth of my current sites; and pursue new Central Coast terroirs in the years to come.
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