These days it seems like few wineries limit the varietals of wine they bottle. Testarossa Winery is one of the exceptions. Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are the specialties here.
It is the fourth oldest winemaking facility in California, with ties still to the Jesuits at Santa Clara University. This Los Gatos winery was known at Novitiate Winery when it was built in 1888.
The Jesuits were able to produce wine during Prohibition because it was called “altar wine,” though it wasn’t just kept for use on Sundays. To this day Testarossa makes two dessert wines in the tradition of the Jesuits.
It was in 1993 that Rob and Diana Jensen started the winery. Testarossa was his nickname while studying in Italy. It means red head. They moved to the current location in 1997. While it is not far from downtown Los Gatos, it is at an elevation of about 2,000 feet.
About 30,000 cases are produced each year; most going directly to the consumer. While Testarossa focuses on the two varietals, they have 46 variations, with about 15 available at any given time. Many lots only produce 200 to 400 cases. New wines are released every six weeks.
Grapes are not grown on site. Instead, the winery says it focuses on getting the best grapes from regions throughout California. It taps into 18 vineyards to source the fruit. Most are in San Lucia, with Sonoma, Monterey and the Santa Rita Hills being other locations.
While the facility has grown through the years, some of the original rock walls built for the Jesuits are still part of the structure.
Live music and other events are common throughout the year.
Testarossa was a great find. You don’t feel like you are in the Bay Area, and definitely aren’t in an overcrowded wine region. Even better, the wines are tasty.
- Address: 300 College Ave., Los Gatos.
- Hours: 11am to 5pm daily. Closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day.