Graham Tatomer’s interest in wine began when he was just a teenager working at Santa Barbara Winery, but it wasn’t until years later that a local job grew into a passion. Lafond Winery and its vineyard, home to among the oldest Riesling plantings in the region, is where the passion was sparked. Not long after, he decided to move to the Wachau, in Austria, and found a lifelong mentor in Emmerich Knoll.
Graham founded his own winery in 2008, and while his wines reflect an Austrian influence, they distinctly belong to the terroir of Santa Barbara. Beautifully precise and detailed, they have a unique charm and idiosyncratic quality that could only come from someone who was born and raised in the region.
“Hinter der Mauer” is an Austrian-German term that he learned while working harvest at Knoll, which roughly translates to “your back against the wall.” The area between the walls of the terraces of the vineyard and the vines he would work on was very tight, yet also yields some of the best fruit because of the radiant heat from the wall itself.
The 2021 is a blend of 80% Grüner Veltliner and 20% Riesling from cool-climate sites across the Central Coast, including John Sebastiano (Sta. Rita Hills AVA), Kick-On Ranch (Santa Barbara AVA), and La Estancia Vineyard (Santa Lucia Highlands AVA). The wine is whole cluster pressed, then aged in stainless steel before being bottled unfined and unfiltered.
We weren’t the only ones impressed by this wine. Antonio Galloni of Vinous writes: “The 2021 Hinter der Mauer is one of the greatest values in wine. . . . The 2021 is redolent of green apple, flowers, mint, chamomile and lime. Articulate and precise, the 2021 is an absolute delight. Don’t miss it. 92 Points.”
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