Martinelli Winery has one of the most romantic histories of any of California’s long-time wineries. Its roots were established in 1887 when a teen-aged couple from Tuscany eloped to the Russian River Valley. Giuseppe Martinelli, who was 19 when he arrived in California with his 16-year-old wife, had been a young winemaker in Italy and wanted to start his own winery in California. By 1905 he owned some extremely steep property in Sonoma County. When his youngest son took over in 1918, the vineyard became known as “Jackass Hill,” since it was said within the family that only a jackass would try to work it. Today the winery is owned by Lee and Carolyn Martinelli. The winery includes 206 acres in the Russian River Valley and the Sonoma Coast. Though the estate makes Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Sauvignon Blanc and Muscat, it is best known for its Zinfandel.
This red wine is relatively light and can pair with a wide variety of foods. The grape prefers cooler climates and the wine is most often associated with Burgundy, Champagne and the U.S. west coast. Regional differences make it nearly as fickle as it is flexible.