Martinelli Zinfandel Russian River Valley Jackass Hill NV
In 1895 Giuseppe Martinelli and Luisa Vellutini eloped from their homeland in the marbled hills of Northern Italy. The lush Green Valley and Russian River Valley regions reminded them of their Italian homeland. With Giuseppe's experience in viticulture from his homeland, he soon procured a job grafting Zinfandel grapevines for a farmer in Green Valley. Every Sunday, on his only day off, Giuseppe walked through the hills along Green Valley Creek, searching for the perfect site to plant a Zinfandel vineyard. He had brought with him from Europe the consummate method of growing grapes: planting a specific grape varietal on a site which is ideal for that particular varietal to flourish. After the untimely death of Giuseppe, his twelve-year-old son, Leno, was given sole responsibility of farming the 60-degree slope. Leno grew up receiving all of his farming and winemaking knowledge from his parents and from his own lifelong experience. This rugged section of the ranch is referred to by the Martinelli family as "Jackass Hill", because only a jackass would farm a hill that steep. Jackass Hill is the steepest non-terraced hillside vineyard in Sonoma County. At age 89 Leno turned over the caretaking of the steep hillside vineyard to his son, my father, Lee Sr. Lee is the third generation of Martinellis to caretake the original family homestead land; farming the ancient vineyard much as his grandfather Giuseppe had one hundred years before, without irrigation, pesticides, or trellising. Once picked, the grape bunches are de-stemmed and the whole berries undergo a long cool fermentation to generate skin contact and enhance fruit character. The juice is fermented with indigenous yeast. The wine is then gravity fed into small oak barrels with a touch of residual sugar remaining to complete the fermentation process in barrel until dry. The grapes are 100% barrel fermented with wild yeast, resting in 75% new French oak on its gross lees for 10 months.
Since 1896, five generations of the Martinelli family have worked together producing apples and wine in Sonoma County. We invite you to stop by the Martinelli Vineyards Tasting room in our historic Hop Barn to try our award winning estate wines.