Photos by Bob Dickey, firstname.lastname@example.org
(story published in the Santa Barbara News-Press on 1/30/14)
Santa Barbara County winemaker Graham Tatomer, celebrated for the world class, dry Riesling and Gruner Veltliner he produces under the Tatomer label, has just become the new winemaker at Martian Ranch & Vineyard in Los Alamos.
He’ll still keep his eponymous brand, which he’s grown to 1500 cases. But he’ll now be heading a program of biodynamically-grown grapes – whites like albarino, viognier and Grenache blanc and reds that include mourvedre, syrah, tempranillo, gamay and cabernet franc.
|Martian wine atop one of the Martian Ranch picnic tables|
“I’m like a kid in a candy store,” Tatomer told me last week. And the unique farming approach – biodynamic takes organic to a whole new level – is “definitely a school of thought I lean toward and I’m excited to learn more about it.”
But there's also a sobering fiscal reality to Tatomer's move. "California is still in recession, and Tatomer is like a lot of upstart brands: I'm really happy with its success, but financially, it still does not cut it. My schedule is very flexible for most of year -- I get pummeled during harvest, of course -- but I am able to have a second job. I had to have some sort of supplement income, a more stable income."
Tatomer leaves assistant winemaking duties at Melville and Brewer-Clifton wineries. And Martian is putting the finishing touches in its just-opened tasting room, which is located just north of its proprietary Los Alamos vineyard, at 9110 Alisos Canyon Road.