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 2018 season was much calmer than 2017, due to the absence of extra rain and heat spikes we experienced in 2017. The moderate temperatures in the spring and summer allowed for a longer growing season and full flavor development. There was plenty of water in the soil to carry the clusters through the long growing season with minimal dehydration. Our first day of harvest in 2018 was September 10th, compared with an August 26th start in 2017. It was nice that the production crew could enjoy the Labor Day holiday right before the long hours and hard work of harvest began.