Louis M. Martini is one of Napa Valley’s most historic wineries. It was founded by Louis M. Martini, who left his home in Genoa, Italy, to join his father in San Francisco in 1899. After experimenting with winemaking, the senior Martini sent his son back to Italy for 5 years to learn winemaking, and by 1911 the men were making wine for sale in rented space outside of San Francisco. Always known for its progressive thinking and attention to quality, the winery became one of the first and most successful large wineries in Napa Valley. In 2002 it was purchased by the Gallo family. The estate owns 700 acres and makes Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Malbec, Meritage and Petite Sirah.
Napa Valley AVA is the most famous winemaking region in the United States and one of the most prestigious in the world. With nearly 43,000 acres of vineyards and more than 300 wineries, it is the heart of fine wine production in the United States. Winemaking started in Napa in 1838 when George C. Yount planted grapes and began producing wine commercially. Other winemaking pioneers followed in the late 19th century, including the founders of Charles Krug, Schramsberg, Inglenook and Beaulieu Vineyards. An infestation of phylloxera, an insect that attacks vine roots, and the onset of Prohibition nearly wiped out the nascent Napa wine industry in the early 20th century. But by the late 1950s and early 1960s Robert Mondavi and other visionaries were producing quality wines easily distinguishable from the mass-produced jug wines made in California’s Central Valley. Napa Valley’s AVA was established in 1983, and today there are 16 sub-appellations within the Napa Valley AVA. Many grapes grow well in Napa’s Mediterranean climate, but the region is best known for Cabernet Sauvignon. Chardonnay is also very successfully cultivated, and about 30% of the AVA’s acreage is planted to white grapes, with the majority of those grapes being Chardonnay,
Despite its popularity, this grape is quite rare. Less than 10,000 acres are planted worldwide, with the bulk in California. In France, the grape is referred to as Durif. Not to be confused with Syrah, Petite Sirah is a cross of Syrah and Peloursin. The result is darker and fuller.