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Testarossa Winery - Santa Lucia Highlands


91 Points - Connoisseurs’ Guide

From a Sunnyvale Garage to International Acclaim, Testarossa Winery is continuously recognized for its outstanding wines and today stands as the Bay Area’s oldest continuously operating winery.

What began as a small weekend project in 1993 has since grown into one of Santa Lucia Highlands’ most reputable wineries with literally hundreds of 90-Plus-Point scores from all of the top wine publications. This American Dream story belongs to none other than Testarossa Winery, this month’s Pinot Noir Series Selection that shows all of us how hard work, a passion for doing what you love, and a can-do attitude can lead to amazing accomplishments.

Testarossa Winery’s founders are Rob and Diana Jensen, both northern California natives who met as electrical engineering students at Santa Clara University. Rob also earned a minor in Italian language and culture and spent two summers studying abroad in the Italian countryside. It’s here that he earned the nickname Testarossa, Italian for redhead, and the name has been sentimental to him ever since.

After graduating, Rob and Diana both entered the high-tech world in Silicon Valley - Rob holding several sales and marketing positions in pre and post IPO companies and Diana taking on marketing roles at both the National Semiconductor and Cypress Semiconductor. As challenging and rewarding as their jobs were, it wasn’t long before they yearned for something else.

That something else turned out to be making wine. Rob and Diana both love wine and food, and Rob’s education in Italian culture helped heighten that shared passion. Being in the Silicon Valley, they took advantage of their close proximity to northern California’s wine country and enjoyed learning about the art of winemaking from nearby wineries and winemakers.

By the early 1990’s, the Jensens were serious wine hobbyists. Rob and Diana began experimenting with home winemaking in their Sunnyvale garage and in 1993, had made a full 60 gallon barrel of wine with a small, traditional wooden press (today, that same press is on display in their Testarossa Winery Tasting Room!). The hobby quickly turned into a regular weekend activity and the couple even planted two dozen grapevines in the backyard to start teaching themselves the tricks and techniques of viticulture.

To further their wine knowledge, Rob and Diana took all the viticulture and enology classes they could at the nearby world famous UC Davis campus. They also spent time volunteering at the Santa Cruz Mountains’ Cinnabar Winery and made friends with winemaker George Troquato. George turned out to be a great contact, and even found the Jensens their first small vineyard to lease in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

By 1994, just a year later, Testarossa Winery became a reality. Diana started working full time at the winery, running the day to day operation and securing vineyard sources for nearby premium wine grapes. That fall, Testarossa Winery made their first official wine, a 1994 Chardonnay from the Monterey County/Chalone appellation, that went on to receive 91 POINTS from both Wine Spectator and Connoisseurs’ Guide - not bad for a first release!

The following two years, Cinnabar winemaker George Troquato got the Jensens on their feet, leasing winery space to Testarossa and giving them a place to make their first few vintages. By 1996, Testarossa had already outgrown tiny Cinnabar, and Rob and Diana moved their business to the old historic Novitiate winery (pronounced no-vish-ut) in downtown Los Gatos. The old winery was originally built in 1888 and today stands as the Bay Area’s oldest continuously operating winery. The space turned out to be the perfect fit for Testarossa Winery, offering not only plenty of space to grow (the Jensens have maintained a slow 1,000 case per year growth model) but also a totally unique, rustic atmosphere that keeps visitors and winery enthusiasts coming year round to enjoy Testarossa’s world-class wines.

By the way, world-class wines is no understatement. Since its inception, Testarossa’s wines have received (and continues to receive) such outstanding honors as Top 100, Top 10, Top Wines of the Year, and incredibly, hundreds of 90-Plus Point scores. One of their Pinot Noirs was even named the Top Pinot Noir in the World by Wine Enthusiast in 2001. While production and vineyard sources continue to grow each
year, not much else has changed from the original Testarossa business model in 1994.

The Jensens love making their handcrafted Pinot Noirs, Chardonnays and Syrahs from over a dozen worldclass vineyards each year, and couldn’t be happier living their American Dream of Testarossa Winery. Cheers to a family who has truly made it!



Bill Brosseau

Testarossa’s winemaker, Bill Brosseau, got his start working as an enologist for the winery in 2000. Recognizing his expertise and skill with Burgundian winemaking techniques, Bill was quickly promoted to winemaker and has held the position ever since. Before coming to Testarossa, Bill worked in the cellars of Chalone Vineyard and then as a Lab Director for Napa’s Pine Ridge Winery. He also gained extensive viticultural experience managing his family’s Brosseau Estate Vineyard, located high above the cool, breezy Salinas Valley in the heart of the Chalone Appellation. ‘I feel this is one of my great contributions to Testarossa, as we source fruit from different areas,” Bill offered. ‘Being able to understand our individual vineyards is vital if we want to maintain a competitive edge.” When Bill is not at the winery, he is most likely spending time with his wife Kilene and their three children.

About The Region

Testarossa Winery sources fruit from over a dozen world-class California Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Syrah vineyards, making each vintage of wine consistently outstanding. By partnering with passionate growers from only the finest growing regions (including Santa Lucia Highlands, Santa Rita Hills, Sonoma Coast, and Santa Maria Valley) Testarossa ensures their releases are of premium quality and only made in limited quantities. These are top-of-the-line wines, and seriously hard-to-find. This month’s feature, the 2010 Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir, comes from three vineyards (Doctor’s, Dos Rubios, and Fogstone estates) and shows off why this cool-climate appellation is second-to-none in producing top-notch Pinot Noir. The rugged terrain, maritime breezes, and ocean fog provide a long growing season which ensures fully developed fruit and ripe flavors. Currently there are 5,900 acres planted in SLH, mostly to the Burgundian Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.


Grilled Halibut with Sundried Tomato Vinaigrette


Ingredients

1 lemon, zested and thinly sliced
1 orange, zested and thinly sliced
2 lb. halibut fillet

Vinaigrette:
1 Tbs. oil from sundried tomatoes
2 Tbs. olive oil
3 garlic cloves
1/4 cup sundried tomatoes, in olive oil, chopped
1/3 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1tsp. California chili powder, divided
1/2 tsp. Spanish paprika
1/4 cup sherry vinegar
1/2 cup broth, chicken or vegetarian
salt & pepper


Instructions

In a shallow baking dish, place a layer of orange and lemon slices on bottom and place fish atop. Sprinkle zest of both orange and lemon over fish and chill for 1-2 hours. In a saucepan over medium-high heat, add both oils. Saute garlic and tomatoes until the cherry tomatoes break down, about 5 minutes. Add 1/2 tsp. chili powder, Spanish paprika and sherry vinegar. Boil for three minutes, add broth and simmer for 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside. Prepare barbecue to medium-high heat. Generously spray with non-stick spray. Place fish on grill, top with a layer of sliced lemon and oranges. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and remaining chili powder. Grill for 10 minutes, remove citrus slices to empty part of grill. Flip fish and season with salt and pepper. Grill citrus, flipping once, just until golden, and -set aside. Grill fish for a remaining 5-7 minutes or until fish is firm to the touch and just opaque. Rewarm vinaigrette, place fish on serving platter. Surround the fish with the citrus and spoon vinaigrette over fish.



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