Background: Tesouro was started in 2005 by two friends, Don McGrath and Rich Auger.  Don was the owner/winemaker for many years at Villa Helena winery in Saint Helena, California, while Rich is a grape-grower and was the across-the-road neighbor of Villa Helena.  For years we have shared our enthusiasm for viticulture and winemaking, and collaborated on various commercial and home winemaking projects.

While at Villa Helena, Don produced wonderful ports with grapes sourced from the neighborhood, including Rich’s Cabernet Sauvignon. The two of us often discussed how we would like to produce port with Portuguese varietals, believing that the marrying of traditional grape varieties with California growing conditions and winemaking practices would produce a special dessert wine.

Our chance came in 2003 when we discovered Silvaspoons Vineyards near Galt, California, which specializes in just the Portuguese grape varietals that we sought for our new port program.  That year we produced a barrel of home port as a trial run.  The results convinced us that the Silvaspoon fruit could produce remarkable wines, and we started commercial wine production in 2005.

Wine Making: Tesouro is a virtual winery because our tiny production (8 barrels in 2005) does not justify the high cost of a brick and mortar winery. Instead we contract with top winemakers and facilities to produce our wine under our direction and following our wine-making practices. The 2005 port was produced at St. Barthélemy Cellars in eastern Napa County by winemaker Jason Ball. Our 2006 Port and our 2005 Tannat was produced by Brian Graham at the Silenus Winery in the Oak Knoll district of the Napa Valley.

Don McGrath, Partner: Don was the owner/winemaker for many years at Villa Helena winery in Saint Helena, California.   Villa Helena was founded by Don and his wife Lidia is 1985, creating a small winery and vineyard from a 4 acre prune orchard and chicken ranch.   Don was among the first to produce estate grown and bottled Viognier in the Napa Valley.  Villa Helena was also well known for its Charbono and also produced acclaimed dessert wines and port.  (Don and Lidia sold Villa Helena in 2001 and today it is known as Arger-Martucci Winery.) 

Rich Auger, Partner:  Rich and his wife Mary Radu farm a small vineyard across the road from Villa Helena.  The vineyard was originally planted to Cabernet Sauvignon by Rich in 1989, and from 1992 through 1997 the wine was produced under the Auger Vineyard label by Don at Villa Helena Winery.  Rich budded over his vineyard to Syrah in 1998 and currently sells the grapes to B Cellars where it is a component of a Cabernet/Syrah blend offered by some of the finest restaurants in the country.