Within two minutes of speaking with Regina Martinelli, a member of the legendary Martinelli wine (not the sparkling apple juice) family, I realized she was a great deal more than just the attractive front person for the winery. She also has extensive experience and knowledge about the intricacies of making consistently award-winning wines.
For instance, when I met with her at World of Pinot Noir about five weeks ago, she illustrated how the persistent drought impacts the growing of grapes.
Certainly the plants need water when’s it’s 95 degrees out. But water is also crucial in fighting frost, a common problem in the winter in Sonoma. Water, applied in the evening, provides a protective casing of the buds and plants against the ravages of frost. So, a lack of water is certainly troubling in the hottest part of the summer. But, without the benefits of water in January and February, you might not have much of a crop left to protect come July and August.
Sometimes, according to Regina, vintners have no choice but to cut off all of their fruit well before normal harvest to salvage the long-term life of the vine. This is a drastic measure, costing $60,000 per acre or more. Can you imagine having to make that decision year after year? That’s living life on the edge.
But Ms. Martinelli has decided that that’s the life she wants. She’s Marketing and Sales Director, Tasting Room Manager, a vineyard owner, and part owner of Martinelli. As if that’s not enough, she’s also part of the tasting group for the winery that determines the final composition of the wines.
And, Regina’s not alone in this endeavor. Her family has been growing grapes for a staggering 130 years in Sonoma. She’s joined by her siblings and her two parents in managing all aspects of the vineyard and the winery. And, you must distinguish between the two. The Martinelli Winery owns all of the land (rumored to be about a whopping 2,000 acres) where the grapes are grown. But only 10% of the grapes grown go into Martinelli wine. The rest is sold to numerous other prestigious wineries.
Regina, with a bachelor’s degree in biology and a Master’s in Organizational Development, really knows her grapes and her wines. She can easily educate you on the values of the two-pruning system or dropping late ripening green grapes or how grape selection at Martinelli is done on the vine, not on a sorting table after harvest.
This level of knowledge and experience from all of the Martinelli family translates into the ability to make delicious, delightful Pinots, Zinfandels, Syrahs, and Chardonnays year after year.