It’s a familiar story. Diana and Rob Jensen were both working in tech while making wine as a hobby in the garage of their home in the Santa Cruz Mountains—until 1994, when their pastime became a business with the commercial release of their first 200 cases.

The couple named their winery Testarossa, or “Redhead,” after the nickname Rob earned during a stint in Italy for his hair color. They decided to specialize in Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and bought the historic Novitiate winery, a huge facility. They needed it; current annual production is 30,000 cases. Along with winemaker Bill Brosseau, the Jensens have cultivated relationships with some of California’s top vineyards.

They’ve also established a thriving retail business at the winery, where they sell 80% of their output; sales are still booming in the pandemic. Here are my tasting notes for most of their current releases:

Testarossa 2018 Chardonnay, Soberanes Vineyard, Santa Lucia Highlands ($51)
Smooth, rich, and dense, with tropical fruit and good acidity. Deep and complex yet fresh and charming. 93

Testarossa 2018 Chardonnay, Rosella’s Vineyard, Santa Lucia Highlands ($51)
Lush, toasty nose and a silky texture; subtle toast and a core of firm acidity. Rich yet totally balanced, with a long, graceful finish. 94

Testarossa 2018 Chardonnay, Rincon Vineyard, Arroyo Grande Valley ($51)
From a celebrated vineyard, this shows smooth, elegant tropical fruit buttressed by firm acidity. Creamy and dense, complex, and rich. 94

Testarossa 2018 Chardonnay, Rosemary’s Vineyard, Arroyo Grande Valley ($51)
This equally famed vineyard yields an elegant, silky expression very close to the true Burgundian model; smooth, bright, and lively, with graceful style and a long, tangy finish. 95

Testarossa 2018 Pinot Noir, Brosseau Vineyard, Chalone ($68)
Smooth yet dense and meaty with minerals and dried cherries. 92

Testarossa 2018 Pinot Noir, Rosémary’s Vineyard, Arroyo Grande Valley ($68)
Lush and dense with juicy cherry yet fresh and tangy. 93

Testarossa 2018 Pinot Noir, Tondre Grapefield Vineyard, Santa Lucia Highlands ($68)
Spicy cherry nose. Crisp and bright with racy acidity; pure and tangy. 93

Testarossa 2018 Pinot Noir, Gary’s Vineyard, Santa Lucia Highlands ($68)
Silky, juicy, and tangy with fresh cherry and raspberry; smooth texture and a long, earthy finish. 93

Testarossa 2018 Pinot Noir, Rosella’s Vineyard, Santa Lucia Highlands ($68)
Succulent and crisp with racy acidity and tangy cherry; bright, long, and fresh. 94

Testarossa 2018 Pinot Noir, Rincon Vineyard, Arroyo Grande Valley ($68)
Red cherry nose. Smooth, elegant, and tangy, this is a lovely expression of its site; graceful and balanced, long and pure. 94

Testarossa 2018 Pinot Noir, Cortada Alta Vineyard, Santa Lucia Highlands ($68)
Soft cherry nose. Remarkable depth for such a young wine, from the silky texture to the mature cherry notes; rich and complex. 94

Testarossa 2018 Pinot Noir, La Rinconada Vineyard, Santa Rita Hills ($68)
Fresh and layered, silky and subtle with fine acid structure; smooth, long, and delicious. 95

Testarossa 2018 Pinot Noir, Pisoni Vineyard, Santa Lucia Highlands ($81)
From one of California’s most renowned vineyards. Lush cherry nose; juicy and exuberant with tangy, ripe fruit; smooth texture and pure, long-lasting flavors. Stunning. 95

Testarossa 2018 Pinot Noir, Soberanes Vineyard, Santa Lucia Highlands ($68)
Warm, earthy nose and a silky mouthfeel. Bright, tangy ripe cherry with just a hint of mature sweetness; crisp and long. 95

Testarossa 2018 Pinot Noir, Graham Family Vineyard, Russian River Valley ($68)
Silky and elegant, with rich, complex fruit as well as oak and spice flavors. 95

Visit Testarossa Winery online to purchase.

by Anthony Dias Blue