Fine wine: A new offering at Tess’ Kitchen Store

TESS’ KITCHEN STORE IN HISTORIC Grass Valley has launched a wine program that includes retail sales, classes and two wine clubs. In April, Tess’ also expects to begin selling bottles of craft beer.

It is a milestone for Tess’ and represents a growing trend, the morphing of food, wine, and kitchenware into one shopping experience. Carpe Vino in Auburn has a popular wine club, as well as a four-star restaurant and wine shop.

Tess’ has been expanding rapidly since 2010, when Steve Rosenthal and his wife, Rachel, bought the store at 115 Mill Street in Grass Valley. Tess’ was established in 1931 by local Tess Hawkins. Steve is a lifelong cooking enthusiast who retired from Hewlett-Packard Co. after a successful 27-year career.

Under Steve’s ownership, Tess’ has become the largest kitchen store in the foothills, with a popular cooking school and restaurant-quality kitchen. It has expanded into a three-story showroom with more than 6,000 square feet of kitchenware. Last year Tess’ began selling artisan cheese from Dedrick’s Cheese, one of the region’s leading cheese purveyors.

Tess’ cooking school has expanded with “in-house” chefs such as Alan Tangren, a 22-year veteran of Chez Panisse; Roberta DesBouillons, a longtime chef and caterer; and Dawn Empson, a Le Cordon Blue-trained chef who also worked in Napa Valley for 10 years at renowned Cakebread Cellars and Crocker & Starr, an award-winning boutique winery.

Dawn is in charge of Tess’ wine program. It includes the wine clubs, classes, newsletters describing the wines, as well as food pairing suggestions and recipes. Tess’ also will help customers identify their wine palates. “The wines we are featuring are distinctive and engaging, sourced from small boutique wineries from around the world,” says Dawn.

Tess’ Vintner Club is $29.99 for two bottles of wine every other month. Wine enthusiasts can choose either two bottles of red, two bottles of white or one of each. The wines are “easy, everyday drinking wines—one that you look forward to but don’t feel guilty about opening,” says Steve.

Tess’ Sommelier Club is $89.99 for four bottles of wine every other month. “These are premium wines for the more discriminating palate,” says Steve. The first collections are being released in January.

Tess’ also is selling a selection of wines in its store, displayed in a 15-foot-long space, with food pairing suggestions. For more information visit

(Photo: Wine program manager Dawn Empson by Rachel Rosenthal)

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