Besides the cute downtown shops and restaurants, Los Gatos also boasts a neat history with the Historic Novitiate. The old Novitiate Winery was originally built in 1888 by Jesuit priests from Santa Clara College which is now been named Santa Clara University. The project was intended to help fund their new seminary college, built on the grounds the same year.
The term Novitiate means house of the novices or trainees which was the name given to seminary students. For more than a century, the Jesuits made altar wines, as well as sweet, fortified wines at the Novitiate Winery. The Novitiate Winery was best known for its fortified Black Muscat dessert wine which was a perennial gold medal winner at the California State Fair.
In 1968, it was decided to shut down the seminary college in Los Gatos and moved the students to Santa Barbara. At this same time, California’s wine industry was booming; interest in varietal labeled, dry table wines displaced fortified and dessert wines. In 1986, the Jesuits shut down their Novitiate Winery brand, ending an amazing 98 year run. For the next ten years, the old winery was leased to other brands.
In 1997, the old winery underwent a new transformation. That year, the Jensens moved their four year old label Testarossa to the old Novitiate; that first year saw production of 4,000 cases of small lot Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Today production is around 20,000 cases annually. Every year, Testarossa invests in repairing and improving the proud old facility. Today, the historic winery has been beautifully renovated into one of the gems of the California wine industry.
Testarossa Winery is yet another reason we call Los Gatos home. What do you love about Los Gatos? BTW, the tasting room at Testerossa Winery is open from 11-5 daily.