Here at Testarossa, there is always something new and exciting going on at the winery. Being housed in the fourth longest continuously operated winery in California, there is a noticeable energy among everyone who visits this place as we continue century long traditions with modern winemaking techniques. The beautiful gravity-flow winery has a character unlike anything else in California, and while it makes world class wines, it also works as a fantastic venue for the wine that it produces. The wines have an extra dimension in our Tasting Room or in any of our cellar spaces, and our favorite way to enjoy them is with our members at our various club events throughout the year.
Rob & Diana Jensen started Testarossa almost by accident as a passion project to create the best wines possible to share with friends. In this sense, nothing has changed as we celebrate each new release with members who we can only refer to as family.
Twenty-six years ago, Rob and Diana sent “Future Futures” contracts to 30 friends in order to fund their wine-making venture, which at the time was just a garage project. This wasn’t the typical Futures contract in which one would simply be purchasing wine in advance, but rather those putting down funds actually participated in the propagation of the original vineyard. (All but one contract came back signed with the exception being from Margaret Pedersen, our CFO of 19 years- we’re never going to let her forget that one!)
As the years have gone on, we’ve been blessed to expand these relationships among this initial base of investors to all of the members we have today. The project has always been about the wine, and this journey has been built by a passion shared by the vision of our founders, devoted growers, a great team of wine makers, and most of all, the dedication of our club members as we pursue the generational project of producing site-driven wines. It’s for this reason that our motto at Testarossa is “Passion in every glass.”
Each wine club event we do is our way of sharing this journey with you as each event is built around the wine that we love and the relationships we’ve built over the years.
Probably our favorite club series we do is our regular Grower Luncheons that occur with most of our Single Vineyard releases during the year (the exception being during Harvest time). This series brings the source of each new wine to us by bringing a vineyard manager from each respective vineyard in to celebrate the new wines from the vintage. Here we learn about the specific sites, growing regimens, and vintage conditions that set the stage before the grapes arrive to be cellared each year.
We take great care in only selecting the best vineyards to be bottled, and our hands-off winemaking approach means we aim to express these sites in pure form. What better way to taste them then by sharing them with the growers themselves! Often times this is one of the only times the growers get to see the fruits of their labor first hand, and it is always fun to see farmers enjoy rock star status as they get a break from the fields.
Given our strict selection process with the vineyards we source from, you’ll notice common themes among the growing practices of each farmer, but each grower has their own personality and unique approach that translates to the distinctive terroir of each vineyard.
The Grower Luncheons are also a showcase of our spectacular culinary team as each successive course served is impeccably paired with the wines on the table. At our recent Garys’ Vineyard Grower Luncheon, while trying a celery based dish inspired by our Chef’s personal heritage, our guest of honor, Mark Pisoni, shared that this dish took him full circle back to his youth as it reminded him of the celery that he used to farm as a child. It is through good wine and food that we are able to bond and relish in what connects us .
These events have become a bit of an addiction for our regulars as well as Rob & Diana, who are always in attendance.
Another favorite is our Annual Pinot Noir Barrel Tasting event. Tasting from barrel is a traditional and raw experience. Outside of winemaking, you often hear of legendary wine importers buying wine ‘en primeur’ based on the early signs of how the vintage is showing while still in barrel. We love doing these events because we can taste these living wines directly with you. It’s an exciting experience, and as these aren’t finished wines, it is always an educational experience to taste them before trying the bottled version a year later, and then tracing its evolution as it ages over the next decade.
If you ever go on a tour of our production areas the first thing you’ll notice is the sheer amount of barrels that we house in our cellars. While they are all French, each is selected on an extremely curated level as we match each vineyard parcel to specific forests, coopers, grain types, toast levels, stave thicknesses, barrel shapes and sizes, and newness. While the analysis may be scientific, it truly is an art form as the variabilities of any given vintage can only be expertly matched by someone who has a long term view of the effects of barreling the specific sites we’re working with. Luckily, we have Bill Brosseau, our Director of Winemaking, who could write a book on matching barrel specifications with individual blocks from Doctor’s Vineyard alone.
At our Barrel Tasting events, Bill is always in attendance to administer samples, and it is an enlightening experience to listen to the maestro in his element.
A step beyond our Annual Barrel Tasting is our Harvest Experience which occurs weekly during harvest months. Those who participate get to experience first-hand our crush as we do fruit sorting, punch-downs, and lees stirring among other duties depending on what needs to be done on any given day.
During our 2016 harvest, each group did lees stirring on the Brosseau Vineyard Chardonnay, so those who attended can confidently say they contributed towards its final result as well as its multiple 93 point scores from professional reviewers.
Our original 29 investors participated in tending the vines during the first vintage and this is our way of keeping the tradition alive as we work the incoming fruit each year together.
After each year’s Harvest, we like to treat our production team so we can rejuvenate them for the many months of cellar work ahead. We always share this moment with our club members so we can show them how much we appreciate their efforts as we enjoy wine from previous vintages paired with a Five-Course meal prepared by our Chef de Cuisine.
We encourage those who attended the Harvest Experience to wear their “Harvest Crew” T-Shirts so we can thank them too!
Formerly the “Top 100” and “Pisoni Release Party,” this annual complimentary summer event is our way of thanking our top members for their support of our winery over the last year. This is always timed to coincide with the release of one of our most highly anticipated wines of the year, our Pisoni Vineyard Pinot Noir. At this event, the wine flows freely along with various library selections and buffet style food options.
JRS Release Party
Our JRS Party is a celebration of the release of our Jensen Reserve Society wines as they come out each summer. These wines come from our top barrels and are the peak expression of each vintage. These are built to age, so this is everyone’s chance to try the new vintage of Diana’s Chardonnay and Niclaire Pinot Noir before committing them to cellar.
If you’re not a JRS member, you can upgrade your membership by going to our JRS page.
For those looking for an even deeper dive into the vineyards we source from our annual trip to the Santa Lucia Highlands is the best way to experience why this is such a premier growing region for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. This always sells out immediately and can sometimes be limited to just our top club members depending on the year. This is truly an educational experience as you’ll be able to experience why the same grape varietal from neighboring vineyards can taste distinctly different based on topography and daily vineyard management decisions. While many of the families we source from are humble generational farmers, it is a competitive landscape and the constant experimentation among growers means that each successive trip you attend will leave you with an exciting new glimpse on what the next vintage will bring.
Carmel Valley Release Parties
Our Carmel Valley Tasting Room may not have the dramatic caves of the Novitiate, but it has a personality all of its own as it is closer to the vineyards that we love. Every quarter, we host complimentary release parties with Rob, Diana, and Bill.
Be sure to visit frequently as we are always featuring new local artist exhibits in our Tasting Room.
These are quarterly social gatherings for members to meet and mingle as we try current release wines and small seasonal bites prepared by our culinary team. These are casual events centered around you, our valued club members!
At Testarossa, we are always doing new things, so the list above doesn’t encompass many of the one-off events we do throughout the year. Some of our recent events include our Carmel Valley Tasting Room Anniversary Party, Pasta Making Class, 25th Anniversary Party, and our three-year-run of the Testarossa Wine & Food Festival.
Our club events are also supplemented by weekly elevated tastings and tours as well as our prolific Testarossa University courses throughout the year. These tastings and courses are always being updated, so we encourage you to revisit them throughout the year.
We also encourage anyone who isn’t local to check in with us before traveling into California as we can give you an advanced calendar for the year and let you know of any special accommodations that may be available within the town of Los Gatos.
Our whole team is involved with creating our club events, and we love doing them as it gives us a chance to do what we love most: Enjoy exceptional wine with a community of passionate club members.
We look forward to sharing our journey with you at one of our upcoming Club Events this year!