Vine & Dine

Testarossa Vineyards Pinot Noir 2011

wine redThe Italian word for “redhead” is Testarossa. Years ago, when the co-founder of Testarossa Vineyards, Rob Jensen, was a university student in Italy, he had very red hair, so he was given the nickname “Testarossa”—now the name of his winery.

Although Jensen’s degree is in electrical engineering, a minor in the Italian language and culture led him to Assisi, a hill town perched on Mount Subasio in central Italy. An interest in winemaking was even more heightened by experiencing the wonderful wines of Italy, and by further trips to Europe’s great wine-growing areas. Rob and his wife Diana founded Testarossa Vineyards in the late ’90s on very historic property—the 19th century Novitiate of Los Gatos, where Jesuit fathers still live to this day.

The Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir ($42) is an impressive wine. If you love Pinot, then you will truly appreciate the boldness of this inky-purple beauty with lots of voluptuous fruit, black pepper and very intense flavor. Every mouthful is pure pleasure.

When you take the first sip from a glass of wine, just stop to think of the long and complicated road of getting juice into bottle. I once went to a grape-harvesting party, which included picking grapes all day under the hot sun before we sat down at the table to eat—and drink! Harvesting is backbreaking work, and much of it has to be done by hand. It is also a time of angst for winemakers as they are trying to get their grapes picked at optimal ripeness. Then there’s the fermentation, the aging process, the bottling, corking and labeling—and then getting it out to wine drinkers for all to enjoy.

TestarossaVineyards, 300-A College Ave., Los Gatos. (408) 354-6150. Tasting room open daily.

Santa Cruz County Fair

It’s that time of year again when you have a chance to pet a baby goat, stroke a woolly sheep, scratch a pig’s ear, see local wines on display, and so much more—all in one day. Yes, folks, it’s the Santa Cruz County Fair—from Sept. 10-15. With this year’s theme of “Cowboy Boots and Country Roots,” the Santa Cruz County Fair celebrates the rich history of the agricultural community. New additions this year are valet parking and an opening night gala. Don’t miss the Alaskan Racing Pigs, the seal show, the equestrian events, the incredible display of photography, and people’s fascinating collections of all kinds of different stuff. There is never enough time to do it all. Visit for more information.

The Haute Enchilada

Every Monday in September, this lovely Moss Landing restaurant is offering California wine for 50 percent off. Visit for more information. 

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