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Wine & Spirits

Testarossa Vineyards
Los Gatos, California

Late breaking news:

  • Testarossa shines at New York Wine Experience
  • New best ever Wine Spectator ratings for Testarossa
    -94pts and 93pts respectively
  • 1999 Harvest Update - last vintage of the Millennium shaping up beautifully!!!
  • 1999 Fall Winery Letter - late but still coming
  • Hot Wines Tasting - Wine Spectator New York Wine Experience - Oct. 23, 1999


This past Saturday Diana proudly represented Testarossa on Wine Spectator's showcase panel of the Eight Hottest new wineries in California. Check out for their coverage of the event.

Over 1,000 serious wine aficionados crammed the 20,000 square foot (including a large balcony section) Grand Ball Room of New York City's Times Square Marriott Marquis Hotel. The panel was hosted by Wine Spectator Sr. Editor and renowned author James Laube. The panel was introduced by Bon Appetite's Anthony Dias Blue, and legendary Australian Winemaker and Author Len Evans.

The panel was lead off by superstar Chardonnay producer Donald Patz of Patz & Hall Winery who poured his 1997 Carr Vineyard Chardonnay (95pts, $45). The wine was wonderful but unfortunately the 1997 vintage was the last wine produced from this phylloxera ravaged vineyard which is currently under going replanting.

Next up, and the highlight of the panel (as far as we're concerned) was Diana's introduction of Testarossa Vineyards to the excited assembly. She gracefully thanked the crowd, her fellow wineries, our New York Distributor, and James Laube of Wine Spectator. She next told of the origin of the name Testarossa (i.e. Italian for redhead, you've heard the story before but they hadn't), how we got started in the wine business, and the exciting array of Vineyards that we partner with (Sleepy Hollow, Michaud, Pisoni, Garys' all in Monterey, and Clos Pepe and Bien Nacido in Santa Barbara County). She poured our 1997 Bien Nacido Chardonnay which was tasting awesome Saturday (are we biased?? Maybe a little!! But check out the next article to see how this wine and our 1996 Reserve Chardonnay were rated.) She concluded by saying that we still have a long way to go to achieve the quality potential we believe still lies in the vineyards we utilize, and again thanking everyone who attended. It was hard to 1) thank everyone who helped us get to this event, 2) introduce ourselves, our winery, our origins, our vineyards, and our wines, and 3) wrap things up eloquently all in less than four minutes. But Diana pulled it off better than anyone else on the panel. (Some of you who may be asking why Diana was on the panel instead of Rob who is usually trying to grab the spotlight whenever he can. The answer is simple. Jim Laube asked if Diana would be on the panel instead of Rob. His reasons were two fold. 1) Diana was the one he always talked with when calling the winery, and 2) Wine Spectator has gotten complaints in the past that their panels are not ethnically or gender diverse (i.e. they seem to always be made up of a group of middle aged white guys). It was easy for Diana to agree to James' request as she spends far more time working on Testarossa than does Rob. Before the panel started she was full of nervous energy, which wasn't helped much when she realized that Robert Mondavi himself was sitting front row-center eagerly tasting the wines from the new mavericks on stage. But once the lights and cameras were rolling she was a champ (though it was good she didn't realize that a 30 foot image of her was being displayed on two Jumbotron screens so the masses could see her). It was like being at a rock concert but with 15,000 wine glasses.

We expect a copy of the video and audio of her presentation from Wine Spectator in a couple of weeks and will get copies put up on our web site for your viewing. The afternoon of the event on Saturday, Wine Spectator already had a complete article written for their web site with the lead photo being Diana and Donald Patz on stage. See it at

Diana was followed by Joan Flowers from the Sonoma Coast's rising star winery. Flowers Vineyards & Winery. Joan poured their 1997 Camp Meeting Ridge Vineyard Moon Select Pinot Noir. Joan and Walt Flowers, and their Winemaker Greg LaFollette are good friends of us at Testarossa.

Joan was followed by the budding Superstar Rhone producer John Alban who poured his outstanding 1997 Reva Syrah (93pts) from his Edna Valley Vineyard in San Luis Obispo County. We also count John and his wife Lorraine as close friends of Testarossa. John has been very helpful with sharing advice on how to make our Viogniers.

The second half of the panel was dominated by three Napa Valley Cabernet Producers, Constant on Diamond Mountain, Miner Family in Oakville, and David Arthur also in Oakville. The final winery was Howell Mountain Vineyards pouring their outstanding 1997 Zinfindel.


12 hours before Diana was irrevocably set to pour our 1997 Bien Nacido Vineyard Chardonnay for 1,000+ people at the New York Wine Experience (see article above) we found out for the first time that this particular wine just became Testarossa's highest rated wine ever. Wine Spectator had set out early copies of the November 15, 1999 issue of their magazine which contained the rating for the '97 Bien Nacido and a review of our 1996 Signature Reserve Chardonnay which received 93pts the second highest rated Chardonnay in this issue. Complete descriptions of the wines are below:

94pts Testarossa Chardonnay Santa Maria Valley Bien Nacido Vineyard 1997 $32 Brilliant fruit. Ripe, generous, supple and complex, with lots of fresh ripe pear, peach, fig, tangerine and spice nuances. Finishes with a pretty array of toasty oak. Drink now through 2006. 435 cases made. - J.L.

93pts Testarossa California George Troquato Signature Reserve 1996 $39. Wonderful, finesse, richness and complexity with layers of pear, hazelnut, fig, apricot and citrus notes. Full-bodied and concentrated. Drink now through 2005. 90 cases made. - J.L.

This makes it 11 for 11 for "Outstanding" 90+ point ratings for
Testarossa Chardonnays that have been reviewed:

1997 Vintage:

94pts Bien Nacido Vineyard Chardonnay (already 2 puffs from Connoisseurs' Guide)

91pts Michaud Vineyard Chardonnay

  • tbr Signature Reserve Chardonnay
  • tbr Santa Maria Vineyard Chardonnay (already 2 puffs from Connoisseurs' Guide)
  • tbr Sleepy Hollow Vineyard Chardonnay (new for 1997, Diana's favorite)
  • tbr Chalone Appellation Chardonnay (our best Chalone ever?)

1996 Vintage:

93pts George Troquato Signature Reserve Chardonnay

93pts Bien Nacido Vineyard Chardonnay

92pts Santa Maria Valley Chardonnay

90pts Chalone Appellation Chardonnay

  • tbr* Michaud Vineyard Chardonnay

1995 Vintage:

92pts George Troquato Signature Reserve Chardonnay

92pts Bien Nacido Vineyard Chardonnay

91pts Chalone Appellation Chardonnay

90+pts Michaud Vineyard Chardonnay

1994 Vintage:

91pts Chalone Appellation Chardonnay

  • tbr = to be reviewed
  • tbr* = the 1997 Michaud Vineyard was mistakenly sent to and rated by Wine Spectator by a former Testarossa employee. The 1996 Vintage Michaud Vineyard Chardonnay was supposed to be sent. We are still trying to convince Wine Spectator to rate his outstanding (in our opinion) wine even though it would be reviewed out of order (i.e. after the 1997 vintage wine was already reviewed).


As mentioned in previous emails, this harvest, like 1998 started more than a month late. And like 1998, our October weather has been dry, warm, and most importantly sunny. The lateness of the harvest has caused higher than normal acidity in the grapes when the grapes are at "optimal" sugar levels. Though the grapes were "ripe" based on sugar analysis our tasting the grapes in the vineyards showed they need longer hang time. As you know many of the vineyards we purchase fruit from also sell fruit to other wineries. So far, in every case, we've been the last winery to pick at a given vineyard, choosing to "let the grapes hang" tempting fate that the weather would remain sunny and dry. Letting the grapes hang allows grapes that are fully developed physiologically, as well as naturally lowering the high acidity, so that the resulting wines are the pinnacle of rich ripe flavors. We believe the other wineries who picked based on sugar alone will have underdeveloped overly acidic wines. Time will tell if we're right. You will probably see slightly higher alcohols in the 1999 Testarossa wines. However, the wines natural acidity and fully developed ripe flavors should beautifully balance with these slightly higher alcohol wines.

So far we've picked the following grapes

Michaud Vineyard Chardonnay, Chalone Appellation, Monterey County - 20 tons - this looks to be the best quality Michaud Vineyard chardonnay we've received.

Pisoni Vineyard Pinot Noir, Santa Lucia Highlands, Monterey County - 5+ tons - just tasting these grapes as they came into the winery gave us goose bumps. The richness of flavor, the complexity, and the finish. These grapes already tasted like wine and they hadn't even gone into the fermentors yet. This will definitely be our best Pisoni to date!!

Garys' Vineyard Pinot Noir, Santa Lucia Highlands, Monterey County - 6 tons - our first harvest from this new Santa Lucia Highland's vineyard co-owned by Gary Pisoni and Gary Franscioni. This vineyard uses the La Tache Pinot Clone from the Pisoni Vineyard.

Franscioni Vineyard Chardonnay, Santa Lucia Highlands, Monterey County - 3 tons - our first harvest from this new Santa Lucia Highland's vineyard owned by Gary Pisoni's partner Gary Franscioni.

Bien Nacido Vineyard Pinot Noir, Santa Maria Valley, Santa Barbara County - 3 tons - 1999 was a VERY low yielding vintage for this vineyard (about 65% lower yield than we got from this same block in 1997). The grapes were in very good shape.

Bien Nacido Vineyard Pinot Blanc - 2 tons - this is a new planting of true Pinot Blanc at Bien Nacido. Previous Bien Nacido Pinot Blancs made by other producers were actually made from the Bourogne de Melone grape varietal, a relative a Muscadet.

Sleepy Hollow Vineyard Pinot Noir, Santa Lucia Highlands, Monterey County - 8 tons - This came in VERY ripe and will most likely make our darkest colored Pinot Noir again. Yields were down all over the state for Pinot Noir so we received 50% less Pinot Noir from Sleepy Hollow than we contracted for.

Sleepy Hollow Vineyard Chardonnay - 15 tons - yields were low in the Chardonnay as well, but Sam Balderas (Robert Talbott Winemaker/GM), and Robb Talbott have Testarossa at the top of their "A list" and told us that we (along with the Robert Talbott winery) got the best Chardonnay in the 500+ acre Sleepy Hollow Vineyard. After tasting the juice we agree!!

Still to be picked:

Bien Nacido Vineyard Chardonnay- 30 tons - our biggest most important Vineyard source. The weather looks to be holding but ripening is slowing as the days get shorter and the vines contemplate going dormant for the winter. It's still a race but it looks like we'll be picking later this week (hopefully)

Clos Pepe Chardonnay, Santa Ynez Valley - 4 tons - our newest
and potentially most exciting new vineyard. The ripening pattern
is similar to Bien Nacido.

Garys' Vineyard Syrah - 8 tons - this is the first Syrah vintage
from this new vineyard. This normally late ripening varietal is
being pushed to its limits this vintage and most likely won't come
in until early November.

Keep praying for sunshine and warm weather. Your prayers have
helped so far. Please keep it up!!!


No, you haven't been dropped from our mailing list. We're still catching up from being without a Business Manager all Summer. We've recently hired (stolen away) Delia Montesinos from Ridge Vineyards where she ran Ridge's retail sales program, during her seven year tenure at this Five Star, world renowned, California winery. Delia has been diligently putting the finishing touches on our Fall Winery Letter. If you don't receive yours in your mailbox in the next 7-10 days then please send us an email.

For those interested in ordering our wines immediately, please print out our online order form at and fax it to us at 408-354-8250.

Thanks again for all your support of our family winery. Without you we couldn't be doing what we love doing most, which is striving to make California's greatest wines!!

Don't forget to tell a friend about Testarossa.

Lastly, when dining out please consult the Testarossa web site for a list of restaurants in your area (or where you traveling to) that carry Testarossa wines.


Rob & Diana Jensen, Proprietors
Ed Kurtzman, Winemaker
Delia Montesinos, Business Manager
Dawnielle Shouse, Oenolgist
Glenn Kubacki, Cellar Master and Mr. Clean (at least for the
1999 harvest)

Testarossa Vineyards, Los Gatos, California -
Restaurants that serve Terstarossa wine.


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