A Pinot that captures the heart

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Tandem: Tantara derives from winemakers Jeff Fink and Bill Cain who source fruit in vineyards along the Central Coast region of California. | Brett Roseman~Sun-Times Media

Santa Barbara while known for its quaint streets and trendy upscale shops became popularized as a wine-growing region after the movie “Sideways” in 2004. Pinot Noir hit a high note at this point and sales have steadily surged for this once obscure California varietal. Santa Barbara County encompasses three well-known areas including Santa Maria Valley, Santa Rita Hills and Santa Ynez Valley. The vineyards run in an east-west pattern while the rolling hills and breezes from the Pacific Ocean contribute to the unique flavor profile that can be found in the wines from each region. Chardonnay, Syrah and Pinot Noir are the most widely grown grapes but it is Pinot Noir that has captured the hearts of consumers.

Tantara Winery is located in Santa Maria County and was founded in 1997 by two Virginia born natives, Jeff Fink and Bill Cates. Tantara was the name of Bill’s horse who lived well past her prime and symbolizes the long life that they pursue in their wines. As co-winemakers they have sourced fruit from famous Central Coast vineyards including Dierberg, Pisoni, Garys' and La Colline. They have an impressive portfolio deep with Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays from single vineyards.

The 2009 Tantara Santa Barbara Pinot is a brilliant shade of ruby with explosive fruitcake and cedar aromas. This super textured wine has ripe strawberries, sweet herbs and a fleshly red berry characteristic. Make no mistake, this is a New World style of Pinot that will show its full potential with grilled or smoked meats.

Suggested Retail: $26.99

W. Peter Hoyne has been a wine journalist for over 20 years, covering stories of national and international significance. While his professional relationships in the wine industry have allowed him to share a unique perspective of wine, he is also intrigued by the culinary aspect and harmony that exist between wine and food. As a wine advocate, he is committed to consumer education and is focused on upcoming trends and American wine-buying habits.