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.
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.