About Tantara

Finest Wines Since 1997

Since 1997, Tantara has been dedicated to producing the very finest Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Located in the beautiful Santa Maria Valley (Santa Barbara County), our wines are sourced from top Central Coast growers and vineyards such as, Bentrock, Brosseau, Dierberg, La Encantada, Lindsay’s, Radian, Rio Vista, Talley, Tondre and Zotovich.   In 2012, our two Los Olivos District estate vineyards, Ingeborg’s and Mateo’s, came online yielding Syrah and Cabernet Franc respectively.   Because of our commitment to detail and the finite amount of fruit that meets our standards, total winery production remains small.


From volunteering for our first harvest in 1997 to becoming our full time winemaker in 2011, Rick Hill has helped us perfect the Tantara wine profile that we enjoy today. Rick, a native of New Zealand, graduated from Charles Sturt University in Australia with his degree in Wine Science prior to moving to California to pursue his passion for winemaking.  

For Pinot Noir, the fruit is de-stemmed and fermented in open top vats. We use both native yeasts and prepared yeast culture to add complexity. Punch down is by traditional methods. After the primary fermentation, the wine is pressed and put into French Oak barrels where it undergoes a secondary or malolactic fermentation. The wine is racked after ML is complete and left undisturbed until it is assembled and bottled, unfined and unfiltered. We believe this style of winemaking lets the fruit achieve its full potential, giving wine that is seductive in the short term, while allowing the development of aromatic and flavor complexities with bottle age.

For Chardonnay, the fruit is whole cluster pressed, the juice settled then put into French Oak barrels. Both primary and malolactic fermentation occur in barrel. The lees are stirred occasionally until ML is finished, then the wine rests sur lie (on its lees) for 10 - 12 months until it is bottled. The style of winemaking we employ for Chardonnay creates enough forward fruit to make it accessible upon release, but with a structure that allows it to improve and gain complexity in the bottle.

Origin of our Name

Tantara was the name of a horse owned by founding partner Bill Cates some years ago. After Tantara was retired to pasture, she defied predictions of an imminent demise and lived to a ripe old age. Horses symbolize elegance, grace and power and in Tantara's case, long life, all of which are qualities we embrace for our wine.