Martinelli Winery is steeped in tradition - the founders were Giuseppe Martinelli and Luisa Vellutini, originally from a village in Tuscany, who eloped as teenagers and landed in Sonoma in 1887. Though resources were scarce, Giuseppe, armed with extensive viticultural knowledge, earned and borrowed enough to purchase a bit of land - the current 60-degree slope which is now known as Jackass Hill Vineyard. The first vines planted were Zinfandel and Muscat Alexandria. When Giuseppe passed away in 1918, his youngest son, Leno, just 12 years old, became responsible for tending the family's steep hillside. His family said only a jackass would be stubborn enough to farm that torturous slope and thus, it earned its name.
In 1973 Lee, Sr., Leno's son, took over management of his Uncle Tony Bondi's estate in the Russian River Valley and made his mark as a premium grape grower. He and his wife Carolyn realized the potential of their crops and started their own winery and tasting room in two converted hop barns. A chance meeting with Helen Turley in 1993 introduced a slew of progressive viticultural and cellar practices that catapulted them to the next level.
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