About Testarossa Winery

From a Silicon Valley Garage to International Acclaim

Testarossa Winery is a producer of premier California Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.  Like all great start-ups, Testarossa Winery was started in 1993 in Rob and Diana Jensen’s Silicon Valley garage. Since then it has grown to national prominence, garnering more than 1,700 scores of 90+ points by renowned wine critics.

Explore Testarossa Winery history:

Rob & Diana Jensen
Bill Brosseau, Director of Winemaking
Historic Novitiate

About Rob & Diana Jensen

From a Silicon Valley Garage to International Acclaim

Rob and Diana Jensen’s passion for fine wine and food led to the development of Testarossa Winery. They met while Electrical Engineering students at Santa Clara University and dated over long dinners with good wine. While both went on to pursue careers in high tech, a weekend winemaking hobby eventually turned into the dream of owning a winery. This was possible due to Rob’s twenty-year high tech career in sales and marketing.

As the winery began to grow in prominence, Diana was the first to leave her tech job and run the winery full-time. In 2018, they celebrated 25 years of living the dream.

Testarossa means ‘red-head’ in Italian and was Rob’s nick-name while he was a university student in Italy.

About Bill Brosseau

Testarossa’s Director of Winemaking

Director of Winemaking, Bill Brosseau, has been with Testarossa since the year 2000. He brings extensive viticultural experience in the field and from the classroom. Bill studied at UC Davis where he received his Bachelor of Science in Viticulture and Enology.

His unique approach to winemaking comes from working both sides of the equation — in the vineyard and in the cellar. Because Bill is also a grower at his family’s vineyard, he brings invaluable hands-on experience and a unique perspective that allows him to supply the winery with only the best Pinot Noir and Chardonnay fruit to translate into the most sought-after wines. Key to this is Bill’s ability to establish close, long-term relationships with the top growers, ensuring exceptional quality vintage to vintage.

Bill has been integral in Testarossa’s 25+ years of Outstanding reviews earning 90 points or higher from the nation’s most well-known critics.

About The Historic Novitiate

Testarossa’s location at the historic Novitiate Winery in downtown Los Gatos, California, is both a state-of-the-art working winery and a truly dramatic setting for visitors. The old stone cellars and beautiful grounds of the state’s fourth oldest continuously operating winery house the tasting room and Wine Bar 107, and provide an amazing venue for private events.

The old Novitiate Winery was originally built in 1888 by Jesuit Fathers and Brothers from Santa Clara College (now Santa Clara University); it was intended to help fund their new seminary college, built on the grounds the same year. The term Novitiate means ‘house of the novices’, the name used for seminary students. For nearly 100 years, the Jesuits made altar wines, as well as sweet, fortified wines at the Novitiate Winery. They were best known for their fortified Black Muscat dessert wine (similar to a tawny port), which was a perennial gold medal winner at the California State Fair.

The original 19th Century, three-floor, gravity-flow winery is still in use today to make Testarossa wines. However, the original structure is now mostly hidden from view by the many expansions the winery went through during the first half of the 20th Century.

Ironically, but not surprisingly, the demand for church altar wine production skyrocketed during Prohibition (1919-1933) and the winery and adjoining vineyards more than doubled in size during that period. After the Repeal of Prohibition the winery continued to grow, as did the number of seminary students who were also recruited to work in the vineyards and winery. By the late 1950s, over 100,000 cases of Novitiate wine were produced annually here.

In the 1960s, things started to decline at the old winery.

The nearly-century old vines were past their prime production years and costly replanting was needed. The seminary population was beginning to decline. In 1968, it was decided to shut down the seminary college in Los Gatos and move the students to Santa Barbara. At this same time, California’s wine industry was booming; interest in varietal labeled, dry table wines displaced fortified and dessert wines. In 1986, the Jesuits shut down their Novitiate Winery brand, ending an amazing 98 year run.

For the next ten years, the old winery was leased to other brands. In 1997, the old winery underwent a new transformation.

That year, the Jensens moved their four-year-old label Testarossa to the old Novitiate; that first year saw production of 4,000 cases of small-lot Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Today production is around 30,000 cases annually.

Every year, Testarossa Winery invests in repairing and improving the proud old facility. Today, the historic winery has been beautifully renovated into one of the gems of the California wine industry.

Learn more about The Jensens and Testarossa Winery’s History

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