The Zio Tony Ranch is named after Lee Sr.’s uncle Tony who was the first in the Bondi family to be born on American soil. Zio Tony, Zio meaning 'uncle' in Italian and pronounced 'tseo', was a very charismatic man with a big booming voice whom loved a good time. When Zio Tony passed away in 1971 his nephew, Lee Martinelli, Sr., took over management of the estate. The love of his family's heritage land was too great for Lee to sell the property and in one short season, he went from High School teacher to Apple Farmer. Eventually, this apple orchard was converted to vineyards, as the market for apples grew unbearably soft. The vines are planted on rolling hills made up of Gold Ridge soil, with Clones consisting of 95, 76, and 548.
The growing season of 2017 stayed wet with spring rains and cooler temperatures, providing moist soil reserves through the summer. The summer had stretches of hot days throughout, especially over the Labor Day weekend, when harvest was at its peak. We were very lucky in October 2017 that the Tubbs Fire, which burned from Calistoga to Santa Rosa, stopped 1.5 miles from our properties. Across Sonoma County as well as in our vineyards, 95% of all wine grapes were already harvested and were not affected by the smoke from these devastating fires.