Testarossa Winery

300 College Ave, Los Gatos, CA 95030, United States

By Ben Loomis – DSC_9441.jpg, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=73875056

Testarossa ‘s location at the historic Novitiate Winery in downtown Los Gatos , California, is both a state-of-the-art winery and a truly dramatic atmosphere for tourists. The old stone cellars and the magnificent grounds of the state’s fourth oldest continuous winery, the tasting room and the Wine Bar 107, provide an amazing venue for private events.

Originally founded in 1888 by Jesuit Fathers and Brothers from Santa Clara College (now Santa Clara University), the old Novitiate Winery was constructed to help finance their new seminary college, built on the grounds of the same year. The word novitiate means ‘house of novices,’ the name used by students of the seminary. For almost 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 the tawny harbour) which was a perennial gold medal winner at the California State Fair.

The original 19th century, three-storey, gravity-flow winery is still in use today to produce Testarossa wines. However, the original structure is now largely obscured from view by the many expansions that the winery underwent in the first half of the 20th century.

Ironically, but not unexpectedly, during the Prohibition (1919-1933) and the winery and adjoining vineyards, the market for church altar wine production increased more than twice in size. After the Repeal of Prohibition, the winery continued to expand, as did the number of seminary students who were also hired to work in the vineyards and wineries. At the end of the 1950s, more than 100,000 cases of Novitiate wine were made here annually. In the 1960s, things began to decline in the old winery.

Almost a century old vines had passed their prime years of development and expensive replanting was required. The population of the seminary had started to decrease. In 1968, it was decided to close down the Los Gatos Seminary College and transfer the students to Santa Barbara. At the same time, California’s wine industry was booming; interest in varietal labels, dry table wines were displaced by fortified wines and dessert wines. In 1986, the Jesuits shut down their brand Novitiate Winery, finishing an impressive 98 year run.

The old winery was leased to other brands for the next ten years. The old winery underwent a modern transformation in 1997. The Jensens transferred their four-year – old label Testarossa to the old Novitiate that year; 4,000 cases of small-scale Chardonnay and Pinot Noir were produced that year. Today, production is about 30,000 times a year.

Every year, Testarossa Winery invests in the repair and renovation of the proud old facility. Today, the historic winery has been beautifully restored into one of the jewels of California’s wine industry.


This amazing town of Los Gatos, California prides itself to have many must-see landmarks you don’t want to miss:

  • New Museum Los Gatos
  • Vasona Lake County Park
  • Los Gatos Creek Trail Urban
  • Oak Meadow Park
  • Billy Jones Wildcat Railroad
  • Fantasy Of Lights
  • St. Joseph’s Hill Preserve
  • Venture Christian Church

All of these wonderful landmarks are located just a short distance from our location located at 3880 South Bascom Avenue in San Jose, California! Stop by for a visit anytime!