Before the fires devastated Napa Valley and Sonoma, or more commonly known as California’s wine country, I had come up with the idea to feature the amazing wineries local to the San Francisco Bay Area. When people think of California wine tasting, they immediately think of Napa Valley or Sonoma. They forget that we have our own little wine country right here in the Bay Area! And with all of the devastation from the fires, I think these blog posts will be especially relevant in helping people find wineries in California.
**I want to thank Testarossa Winery for sponsoring this post. As always, all opinions expressed are my own.
You wouldn’t even know Testarossa Winery is there. It is a hidden beauty located at the historic Novitiate above downtown Los Gatos. Jesuit Fathers and Brothers of Santa Clara University built the Novitiate in 1888 to fund their seminary college. Novitiate means novice in a religious order or a place housing religious novices.
In 1968, they moved the seminary students to Santa Barbara and shut down the college in Los Gatos. With less people to help work the winery and the wine industry changing away from the traditional wines that the Jesuits were making, they decided to shut down the Novitiate Winery in 1986. They leased the facilities to a variety of other wine makers until 1997 when Rob and Diana Jensen moved their home production to the Novitiate.
Fun Fact: Testarossa means “red head” in Italian and was Rob Jensen’s nickname that he picked up while studying abroad in Italy.
Our Visit to Testarossa
I was lucky to spend a beautifully sunny (and warm) fall day wine tasting at Testarossa with my friend this weekend. Our tour guide, Sue, greeted with glasses of wine to enjoy while we toured the winery and learned about the history of the winery, the process of making wine, and saw all the facilities.
Fun fact: all of the stainless steel fermenters are named after musicians. They named their largest fermenter Elvis, because he’s the King obviously. And they named their smallest Too Short.
While they have added on to the facilities, you can still see its historic roots. I love a historical and cultural building, there’s something so beautiful about it! And all of their wine is made using the original gravity flow method built by the Jesuit Fathers and Brothers. It’s really interesting learning about where the wood barrels come from and how they’re made. They are expensive and can only be used for a few years.
After our tour of the winery, we started the wine tasting! Disclaimer: I love wine but I don’t really know much about it. I’m not someone who can taste a wine and tell you it has hints of oak or anything else. I guess you could say my taste is not yet refined to pick out the hints of fruit or oak. The most I could tell was whether the Chardonnay was more crisp or not. But you absolutely don’t need to be able to do that to have fun wine tasting!
We tasted three different types of Chardonnay and two different types of Pinot Noir. JohnMichael was very friendly, entertaining, and knowledgeable. He answered all of our questions and told us all about the grapes. We learned where they get the grapes for each wine. The Santa Lucia Highlands Chardonnay was more crisp, and it was delicious for a warm day. But we also both really liked the Rosella’s Vineyard Chardonnay which was more buttery. Is that even how you describe it? I liked both of the reds, but we spent more time talking about Dos Rubios Vineyard Pinot Noir because of it’s name. Obviously I liked it because I’m blonde!
Wine Bar 107
After our wine tasting, we headed outside to Wine Bar 107 to try some of the cheese and charcuterie. And we may have bought a bottle of Chardonnay. We actually went with the Rosella’s Vineyard Chardonnay which was one of the ones we had during our wine tasting. It was a perfect pick for the warm afternoon. But I did buy a bottle of the Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir to take home.
Another disclaimer: I don’t know anything about cheese other than I like it. But our server helped us pick excellent choices. While I like cheese, I tend to not like trying new things so I was pleasantly surprised I liked all of them! I honestly can’t pick a favorite, I enjoyed all three we tried – the Locarno (cow), Brebirousse D’Argental (sheep), and the San Geronimo (cow). There is live music every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. I loved the lights strung outside on the patio, I think it will look magical at night!
Testarossa Winery Events
Testarossa is the perfect place to enjoy a day of wine tasting or host a special event (weddings, birthday parties, etc.). They also offer an Artisan Wine + Cheese Experience, where you taste wines paired with artisan cheeses after a winery tour. Sue allowed to take a peak at her setup before a group she had coming in. Join the Wine Club for exclusive benefits, including discounts on wine and complimentary tastings. And as I mentioned above, there is live music offered outside at the Wine Bar. They also have Testarossa University, which is a variety of classes to increase your wine knowledge. I’m thinking I might need to go to a few of these.
As you can see, Testarossa is a beautiful winery. I think the pictures speak for themselves. And my favorite part is that it’s conveniently located! Actually I really enjoyed learning about the history of the winery and seeing the behind the scenes of the wine making process.
So, have I convinced you to make Testarossa your next stop for wine tasting? Please let me know if you’ve been before or if you go in the future!
**Again I want to thank Testarossa for sponsoring this post!
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