The year was 1899 when Giuseppe and Luisa Martinelli planted three acres of Zinfandel in the Russian River Valley. The old vineyard is now known as Jackass Hill and remains the steepest non-terraced hillside vineyard in Sonoma County. Nearly one century later Giuseppe and Luisa’s grandson, Lee Martinelli Sr., followed in their footsteps by planting a Zinfandel vineyard. He grafted bud wood from the centurion vines onto de-vigorating rootstocks and planted them one meter by two meters apart, equating to about 2,000 vines per acre, on a rocky knoll above the Martinelli Winery Tasting Room.
The growing year in 2014 was the third dry year in a row and was full of unforeseen challenges provided by Mother Nature. You would think the ongoing drought, excessive heat from March thru June, and hail in early April would have brought down the quality of this vintage. Thankfully this was not the case! Even though the harvest was very early, the small berry sizes and healthy yields have produced very well balanced wines; they are not over-bearing in tannin or structure, and are a pleasure to drink.