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Full text of "A family winery and the California wine industry : oral history transcript / and related material, 1983-1984"


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University of California Berkeley 






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Regional Oral History Office University of California 

The Bancroft Library Berkeley, California 



The Wine Spectator California Winemen Oral History Series 



Louis P. Martini 
A FAMILY WINERY AND THE CALIFORNIA WINE INDUSTRY 



With an Introduction by 
Maynard A. Amerine 



An Interview Conducted by 

Ruth Teiser 
in 1983 and 1984 



i 
Copyright (cj 1984 by The Regents of the University of California 



All uses of this manuscript are covered by a legal 
agreement between the Regents of the University of 
California and Louis P. Martini dated August 10, 1984. 
The manuscript is thereby made available for research 
purposes. All literary rights in the manuscript, 
including the right to publish, are reserved to The 
Bancroft Library of the University of California Berkeley. 
No part of the manuscript may be quoted for publication 
without the written permission of the Director of The 
Bancroft Library of the University of California at 
Berkeley. 

Requests for permission to quote for publication 
should be addressed to the Regional Oral History Office, 
486 Library, and should include identification of the 
specific passages to be quoted, anticipated use of the 
passages, and identification of the user. The legal 
agreement with Louis P. Martini requires that he be 
notified of the request and allowed thirty days in 
which to respond. 

It is recommended that this oral history be cited 
as follows : 

Louis P. Martini, "A Family Winery and the 
California Wine Industry," an oral history 
conducted 1983-1984 by Ruth Teiser, Regional 
Oral History Office, The Bancroft Library, 
University of California, 1984. 



Copy No. 




LOUIS P. MARTINI 



Photograph courtesy of The Wine Institute 





Martini 



innovator 
Martini 
dies at 79 



By TED APPEL 

Staff Writer 

Pioneering 
Napa Valley wi 
nemaker Louis 
P. Martini, the 
first American 
to bottle and 
sell unblended 
merlot a va 
rietal that three 
decades later is 
one of the most 
popular among 

U.S. wine consumers died Mon 
day at his home in St Helena only 
days after he was diagnosed with 
cancer. He was 79. 

Though quiet and unassuming, 
Martini was an innovator who is 
considered to be a giant in the 
California wine industry by his 
peers. He took over the family- 
owned winery that bears his fa 
ther's name and made the Louis 
M. Martini Winery synonymous 
with the top-quality California red 
wines of the 1950s and 1960s. 

Martini was one of the first 
vintners to use stainless steel 
fermentation tanks, believing they 
would give him more control over 
the winemaking process. He was 
also one of the earliest winemak- 
ers to plant vineyards in the 
Carneros region of southern Napa 
and 'Sonoma counties, an appella 
tion that is now recognized as one 
laf the best places to grow chardon- 
;iay and pinot noir in California 
1 Among his other innovations, 
Martini pioneered mechanical 
larvesting of grapes on the North 

Coast, Identified "and propagated 
several grape clones still in use 
and began using varietal designa- 
>Hons t of his wines decades before 
It became the industry standard, f 

j&^'He was a leader ih'our indus 
try," fellow Napa Valley vintner 
;Robert Mondavi said Monday "He 
:reated.a style 'of iwine that is 
mique.tend very drinkable and 
^ry^Rjasaift'^sle.v: ., ; u 






v 

Martini was diagnosed with can 
cer just 12 days ago, a winery 
spokeswoman said. He died Mon 
day morning at his home in St. 
Helena. 

Fellow vintners lauded Martini 
as a visionary winemaker and a 
man from the old school, whose 
word was as good as a 100-page 
legal contract 

"I consider him one of the quiet 
leaders of the California industry's 
move into varietal wines," said 
Jess Jackson, owner of Kendall- 
Jackson Winery. "He was a true 
gentleman and a pioneer in the 
wine industry whose personal im 
pact far exceeded that of his 
brand. He will be missed." 

"Mr. Martini was an outstanding 
member of the wine industry," 
said Ernest Gallo, head of E. & J. 
Gallo Winery. 

Born in Livermore, Martini 
grew up in Kingsburg, where his 
father had founded the L.M. Marti 
ni Grape Products Co. in 1922. The 
family moved to Napa Valley in 
1933 just before the repeal of 
Prohibition, and his father ren 
amed the company the Louis M. 
Martini Winery. 

The younger Martini attended 
the San Rafael Military Academy 
and graduated in 1941 from UC 
Berkeley. He spent his senior year 
studying enology at UC Davis. 

During World War n, Martini 
served in England as an ordnance 
officer with the 8th Army Air 
Force. When the war ended, Mar 
tini returned to the family winery 
as vice president and production 
manager. 

He became winemaker in 1954, 
and was named president and 
general manager of the winery in 
1968. 

That year, Martini became the 
first American to bottle unblended 
merlot, a grape that had been used 
in blends to soften the edges of 
cabernet sauvignon and other red 
wines. Today, sales of merlot 
account for 10 percent of all table 
wine purchases in the United 
States. 

. .''. .{"';;''., -i 

'Tf we hadn't done it, somebody 
. else would have," Martini said in a 
1995 interview, displaying his 
characteristic modesty. 

9 ^"He was so understated, really a 
*' humble 'man, despite being an 
icon," 'said John DeLuca," presi 
dent of The Wine Institute.'* 1 " ^ - 

. -,.-: :V. ' 

oH'xMartini loved itoiget his hands 
i'dirtytin the-'yineyards^He >knew 
-the vines and 'soils of his vineyards 
fcinch by inch, and he believed one 



Santa Rosa Press Democrat, Sept 

of his primary roles as a winemak 
er was to serve as a steward of the 
land. 

"He spoke very lovingly of the 
stewardship of the land. His place 
on earth was to care for the land, 
and to leave it better than he 
found it He certainly did that," 
DeLuca said. 

Martini began to scale back his 
role at the winery in 1978, when he 
turned over winemaking duties to 
his son, Michael. In 1985 his 
daughter, Carolyn, took over as 
president and chief executive offi 
cer of the 175,000-case winery. 

Martini contributed much of his 
time to the wine industry. He was 
an energetic member of the Wine 
Institute, serving as its chairman 
from 1977 to 1978 and attending 
lengthy subcommittee meetings as 
recently as a month ago. Martini 
was also a member and past 
president of the Napa Valley Vint 
ners Association, running the 
group's first Napa Valley Wine 
Auction in 1981. He was a charter 
member of the American Society 
of Enology and Viticulture, and he 
served as the organization's presi 
dent from 1956 to 1957. 

Martini received numerous 
awards for his achievements. 

Most recently, the state Senate 
Rules Committee approved a res* 
lution this year commending Mar 
tini's selection as Winemaker of 
the Century by San Francisco 
Examiner . wine writer Bob 
Thompson. In 1990, Martini was 
given the Wine Spectator Distin 
guished Service Award and the 
Society of Wine Educators' Life 
time Achievement Award. He re 
ceived the American Wine Society 
Award of Merit in 1983, the Ameri 
can Society of Enology Merit 
Award in 1981 and the Wine 
Industry Technical Symposium's 
Leon D. 'Adams Achievement 
Award in 1980. 

Martini is survived by his wife, 
Elizabeth; sister, Angiolina Marti 
ni of El Cerrito; sons, Michael 
Martini of St. Helena and Peter 
Martini of Seattle; daughters, Car 
olyn Martini of St .Helena and 
Patricia Martini of San Francisco; 
and four grandchildren. ^^ 

Memorial services will be at 11 
am., Sept .30 at the St. Helena 
^Catholic Church, 1340 Tainter St A 
celebration 'will be held immedi 
ately afterward at the winery. 
, Donations in Martini's i 

, DepWbnenVof Viticulture & Enol 
ogy ,_Uniyersity of.jCalifbrnia^lba- 



TABLE OF CONTENTS Louis P. Martini 

PREFACE i 

INTRODUCTION by Maynard A, Amerine iv 

INTERVIEW HISTORY v 

I FAMILY AND EARLY YEARS 1 
The Boragni Family 

The L.M. Martini Winery at Kingsburg, 1922-1940 3 

The Brotherhood Winery 6 

Wines for Religious Use 

Louis M. Martini and the Prorate 10 

The Move to St. Helena, 1940 11 

University of California, 1937-1941 14 

Professors' Influences 16 

II CAREER AT THE LOUIS M. MARTINI WINERY, ST. HELENA 24 
Working in the Winery, 1941 24 
Wine Characteristics and Winemaking Goals 25 
Army Air Corps Service, 1941-1945 30 
Return to the Winery 

Martini Sherries 

Vineyard Acquisitions 35 
Wines of the 1940s 

Napa Valley Wine Men of the 1940s 39 

The Napa Valley Technical Group 42 

Winery Innovations and Daily Routine, Latter 1940s 44 

"Mountain" Wines and Vineyard Locations 45 

Growth of the Winery 48 

Changes in Public Taste and Wine Styles 48 

Adding Winery Facilities and Equipment Since the 1940s 51 

Aging Wines 54 

Laboratory Work 55 

Malo-lactic Fermentation 56 

Changes in Bottling 58 

Grape Varieties and Varietal Wines 59 

Vineyard Spacing and Mechanical Harvesting 67 

Protection Against Frost 68 

The Lake County Ranch 70 
Controlling Vineyard Pests and Diseases 
More on Mechanical Harvesting 

Major Vineyard Advances 75 

Martini Winery Practices Today 76 

Distribution of Martini Wines 78 



Making Clonal Selections 82 

A Family Enterprise 83 

Martini Special Bottling and Labels 88 

Wine Judgings and Recommendations 90 

Louis P. Martini's Evaluation of His Contributions 92 

III. ACTIVITIES IN ORGANIZATIONS 94 

The American Society of Enologists 94 

The Wine Institute 98 

The Wine Advisory Board 101 

The Napa Valley Vintners Association 106 

Napa Valley Wine Promotion 107 

Regional Water Quality Control Board 110 

IV. NAPA VINEYARD LAND AND CURRENT USE TRENDS 111 



APPENDIX - Fifty Years in the Wine Industry, a talk given to the 
American Society of Enologists on June 27, 1981, upon 
receiving the Society's Merit Award. 114 

INDEX 123 



PREFACE 



The California wine industry oral history series, a project of the 
Regional Oral History Office, was initiated in 1969 through the action and 
with the financing of the Wine Advisory Board, a state marketing order 
organization which ceased operation in 1975. In 1983 it was reinstituted as 
The Wine Spectator California Winemen Oral History Series with donations from 
The Wine Spectator California Scholarship Foundation, The selection of those 
to be interviewed is made by a committee consisting of James D. Hart, director 
of The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley; John A. De Luca, 
president of the Wine Institute, the statewide winery organization; Maynard 
A. Amerine, Emeritus Professor of Viticulture and Enology, University of 
California, Davis; the chairman of the board of directors of the Wine 
Institute, who is elected annually; Ruth Teiser, series project director, and 
Marvin R. Shanken, trustee of The Wine Spectator California Scholarship 
Foundation. 

The purpose of the series is to record and preserve information on 
California grape growing and wine making that has existed only in the memories 
of wine men. In some cases their recollections go back to the early years of 
this century, before Prohibition. These recollections are of particular value 
because the Prohibition period saw the disruption of not only the industry 
itself but also the orderly recording and preservation of records of its 
activities. Little has been written about the industry from late in the last 
century until Repeal. There is a real paucity of information on the 
Prohibition years (1920-1933) , although some commercial wine making did 
continue under supervision of the Prohibition Department. The material in 
this series on that period, as well as the discussion of the remarkable 
development of the wine industry in subsequent years (as yet treated 
analytically in few writings) will be of aid to historians. Of particular 
value is the fact that frequently several individuals have discussed the same 
subjects and events or expressed opinions on the same ideas, each from his 
own point of view. 

Research underlying the interviews has been conducted principally in 
the University libraries at Berkeley and Davis, the California State Library, 
and in the library of the Wine Institute, which has made its collection of in 
many cases unique materials readily available for the purpose. 

Three master indices for the entire series are being prepared, one of 
general subjects, one of wines, one of grapes by variety. These will be 
available to researchers at the conclusion of the series in the Regional Oral 
History Office and at the library of the Wine Institute. 



ii 



The Regional Oral History Office was established to tape record 
autobiographical interviews with persons who have contributed significantly 
to recent California history. The office is headed by Willa K. Baum and is 
under the administrative supervision of James D. Hart, the director of 
The Bancroft Library. 



Ruth Teiser 
Project Director 
The Wine Spectator California 
Winemen Oral History Series 



10 September 1984 
Regional Oral History Office 
486 The Bancroft Library 
University of California, Berkeley 



iii 

CALIFORNIA WINE INDUSTRY INTERVIEWS 

Interviews Completed by 1984 

Leon D. Adams Revitalizing the California Wine Industry 1974 

Maynard A. Amerine The University of California and the State 's Wine 
Industry 1971 

Philo Biane Wine Making in Southern California and Recollections of Fruit 
Industries, Inc. 1972 

Burke H. Critchfield, Carl F. Wente, and Andrew G. Frericks The California 
Wine Industry During the Depression 1972 

William V. Cruess A Half Century of Food and Wine Technology 1967 

Alfred Fromm Marketing California Wine and Brandy 1984 

Maynard A. Joslyn A Technologist Views the California Wine Industry 1974 

Horace 0. Lanza and Harry Baccigaluppi California Grape Products and 
Other Wine Enterprises 1971 

Louis M. Martini and Louis P. Martini Winemakers of the Napa Valley 1973 

Louis P. Martini A Family Winery and the California Wine Industry 1984 

Otto E. Meyer California Premium Wines and Brandy 1973 

Harold P. Olmo Plant Genetics and New Grape Varieties 1976 

Antonio Perelli-Minetti A Life in Wine Making 1975 

Louis A. Petri The Petri Family in the Wine Industry 1971 

Jefferson E. Peyser The Law and the California Wine Industry 1974 

Lucius Powers The Fresno Area and the California Wine Industry 1974 

Victor Repetto and Sydney J. Block Perspectives on California Wines 1976 

Edmund A. Rossi Italian Swiss Colony and the Wine Industry 1971 

A. Setrakian A Leader of the San Joaquin Valley Grape Industry 1977 

Andre" Tchelistcheff Grapes, Wine, and Ecology 1983 

Brother Timothy The Christian Brothers as Winemakers 1974 

Ernest A. Wente Wine Making in the Livermore Valley 1971 

Albert J. Winkler Viticultural Research at UC Davis (1921 - 1971) 1973 



iv 



INTRODUCTION 



This represents the first second-generation oral biography in this series 
on outstanding men in the California wine industry. Louis P. did give an 
addendum to his father's oral biography in 1975. However, this interview 
constitutes his own story which includes family origins, his own family, school, 
the war years, and his career at the family winery in St. Helena. 

Comparing his father's record with this one reveals some obvious differences 
between the two men. Louis P. admits to not wishing (or even attempting) to 
argue with his father, who, he notes, loved to argue. He also did not totally 
agree with his father's blending theories. Louis P. favors, and practices, 
more varietal indentif ication in his wines and he is more tolerant, I suspect, 
of governmental regulations than his father was. 

It also reveals some similiarities. Both have striven for wines that are 
ready to drink when released, that go with foods, and that are sold at 
reasonable prices. Both recognized that aging modifies, mellows, and often 
improves the wine hence their Vintage Selection wines. Practices initiated 
by his father have been expanded and improved upon: from the Monte Rosso and 
Carneros vineyards to those at Healdsburg, Chiles Valley, and recently to 
Pope Valley and Lake County and from the simpler vineyard and winery practices 
of the 1930s and '40s to more modern ones. 

There are charming and often revealing vignettes of William V. Cruess, 
Frank Schoonmaker, Andre Tchelistchef f , Louis Stralla, John Daniel, Jr., the 
Napa Vintners, the Napa Valley Technical Group, the American Society of Enologist 
the Wine Institute (which he favors for its state and national work) , the Wine 
Advisory Board (whose passing he regrets), the Regional Water Quality Control 
Board, etc. 

There are also perceptive notes on frost protection, irrigation, old and 
new varieties, mechanical harvesting, wine judgings (he's right on the mark 
here), varietal wines versus semi-generic wines, wine promotion, land use in 
the Napa Valley (it has, he notes, kept farmers on the land, but has not kept 
agricultural land prices down), etc. 

Throughout, the winery has been, and is, a family-oriented business, and 
he likes this. His fundamental principles are worth pondering: Keep an even 
keel, maintain quality (hence the attention to vineyards, varieties, and 
practices which improve quality), produce dry wines which go with foods, and, 
ipso facto , stay in business and make a profit (though he doesn't tell this, 
it is obvious). And have a good and satisfying life. Well said. 

Maynard A. Amerine 

28 June 1984 

St. Helena, California 



INTERVIEW HISTORY 



Louis P. Martini is the second- gene rat ion head of a prominent Napa Valley 
winery and a man of influence in the California wine industry. This interview 
was taped in four sessions on December 27, 1983, and January 4, 11, and 17, 
1984, in his pleasant and comfortable office at the Louis M. Martini winery 
at St. Helena. A quiet, rather retiring man, Mr. Martini gave his recollections 
and his views with spontaneity and candor. They reflect the characteristic 
that Dr. Amerine refers to in his introduction as keeping an even keel. 

Little editing was required beyond moving some sections of the interview 
in the interest of chronological sequence. Mr. Martini made a few brief 
additions but no essential changes. 

In the Regional Oral History Office interview with Louis M. Martini that 
was completed in 1973, the year before the senior Martini's death, Louis P. 
Martini gave a short interview to round out his father's account. It was not 
necessarily anticipated at that time that we would be able to continue the 
wine history series and add a full-scale interview with him. That it has been 
possible is to the distinct advantage of the historical record of the California 
wine industry in the twentieth century. 

As a recognized leader in that industry, Louis P. Martini has been asked 
to speak to various professional and consumer groups, and he has at our request 
placed copies of a number of his talks, together with several technical papers, 
in The Bancroft Library. Mr. Martini also presented to the library a copy of 
the 96 - page illustrated book published by the Martini winery in 1983 to 
commemorate its fiftieth anniversary: THE LOUIS M. MARTINI WINERY, ST. HELENA, 
NAPA VALLEY, CALIFORNIA, 1933 - 1983. It describes in some detail each of the 
vineyards and wines, and includes a short history of the winery and the three 
generations who have been principals in this family enterprise. 

Ruth Teiser 
Interviewer-Editor 



14 August 1984 

Regional Oral History Office 

486 The Bancroft Library 

University of California at Berkeley 






I FAMILY AND EARLY YEARS 
[Interview 1: December 27, 1983 ]## 



The Boragni Family 

Teiser: I should begin by asking you when and where you were born? 

Martini: Well, I was born on December 20, 1918, in Livermore, at my 
grandparents ' home . 

Teiser: What was your grandfather's name? 
Martini: Peter Boragni. [spells it] 
Teiser: He was a winemaker? 

Martini: Well, yes and no. He was really a realtor in Livermore, but before 
the 1906 earthquake he had a liquor store in San Francisco,* and 
he bought the ranch with a little winery on it in Livermore 
partially for the purpose of providing wine for his liquor store, 
then continued to operate it after the 1906 earthquake just as a 
winery to make bulk wine out of his own grapes . 

That , in fact , was how my father and mother met . My dad 
had a little winery in Pleasanton at the time and was also 
delivering wines in San Francisco to restaurants, along with his 
other customers , and he bought some bulk wines from my grandfather 
in Livermore. That's how he met the family, even though they came 



IfThifl symbol indicates that a tape or a segment of a tape has 
begun or ended. For a guide to the tapes see page 113. 

*The 1901 Crocker-Langley San Francisco Directory lists: "Boragni, 
Peter [,] wholesale and retail wines and liquors, 1840-1846 Union, 
r. 2800 Gough." 



Martini: from about a mile and a half apart in Italy. They both were born 
in Italy and raised there up until I guess my mother was eighteen. 
He was thirteen when he came over, but they didn't meet until 
some time later. 

Teiser: They had lived in the same area in Italy? 

Martini: Yes. Their two towns are adjacent to each other. My father came 
from Pietra Ligure, and my mother came from Finale Ligure. The 
two towns are less than two miles apart. 

Teiser: And your mother's first name was 

Martini: Assunta. 

Teiser: Did you continue knowing your grandfather later? 

Martini: Well, we used to spend a fair amount of our summers with him. I 
can remember when he still had wine in the winery. Now I don't 
really remember him actually making wine there. He grew a lot of 
crops. This was only a forty-acre piece of land, but it was really 
diversified. He had grapes, prunes, peaches, almonds, and hay 
on the property. And I remember him working with these other 
crops, but I really don't remember the winemaking. 

Teiser: Where in the Livermore Valley was the property? 
Martini: Are you familiar with Livermore? 
Teiser: Somewhat. 

Martini: Well, you know where L Street is? It's the main drag from the old 
highway into Livermore. It was the entrance to Livermore at one 
time from old Highway 80, before they built the freeway. And 
his property was right at the foot of L Street , and it is now 
between the old highway and Interstate 50 I guess it is; that's 
a freeway . 

Teiser: No longer in agricultural use? 

Martini: They sold it, oh gosh, twenty-five years or thirty years ago, and 
it hasn't been used for anything. It just grazes a few cows out 
there. All the buildings are gone from it, but the place is still 
there. It looks the same; there 're even a few remaining fruit 
trees around the place, but the rest of it is generally used for 



Martini: pasture now. That side of Livermore didn't develop like the other 
side where the atomic energy plant is. On the side that he was 
on, there's been very little housing developed. 

Teiser: What kind of grapes did he have, do you know? 

Martini: I really don't, but I suspect that a lot of it was Alicante 

[Bouschet] because he did quite a bit of grape shipping at the 
time. 



The L.M. Martini Winery at Kingsburg, 1922-1940 



Teiser: Was your first recollection of winemaking in Kingsburg, at the 
L.M. Martini Grape Products winery? 

Martini: Yes. We moved there in I think 1922. My first recollection of 

it in Kingsburg, I suppose, was seeing grape trucks coming in, and 
just generally I had free run around the wineries as a kid; wherever 
I wanted to go , I just roamed around. My first actual work in the 
winery, I did some work right after Prohibition; I remember 
putting capsules on bottles and things like that during the summer 
time when I wasn't in school. But that's really the first I can 
remember doing anything around the winery itself. 

Teiser: There was a considerable overlap between the Kingsburg winery and 
this winery at St. Helena, was there not? 

Martini: Yes. This was built in '33, and we didn't move out of Kingsburg 
until '40. 

Teiser: I believe I remember your father saying that he shuttled back and 
forth between these two, and also worked for [Joseph] Di Giorgio. 

Martini: After he sold the Kingsburg plant, he started working for 
Di Giorgio. 

This winery was built originally with the idea of producing 
bulk wines dry wines then shipping the wines to Kingsburg and 
bottling them there. He had not planned on doing any bottling 
operations or anything here; it was simply to be the dry wine plant 
for the Kingsburg operation. That was the reason that he originally 
built the plant. 



Teiser: Then did he get too good an offer from Central California 
Wineries not to sell them the Kingsburg winery? 

Martini: Well, partially that and partially it was that the sweet wine 

business was getting to be a bit of a rat race. And he asked the 
family whether they would rather live down there or come up here 
and have a smaller business and not get involved in the big- 
business rat race, and we all voted to do that. He had an offer 
to sell it, so he went ahead and sold it in 1940. 

Teiser: I should think you would have chosen this pleasant place. 

Martini: Yes. Well, I had no real interest in getting involved in running 
a big organization, and by that time I was a junior at Cal, so 
I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted and didn't want to do. 
I knew I didn't want to get mixed up in big business. So this 
looked a lot more appealing to me if I were to get into the 
business than the Kingsburg plant was, which was basically built 
for high-volume, low-profit type of an operation. 

Teiser: Let me take you back a minute. There were, I think, a couple of 
years when you lived in San Francisco. 

Martini: Well, I can't remember if it was a couple of years or one year or 
what it was, but we did live in San Francisco. We were down in 
what they call Butchertown. 

Teiser: Where your father grew up? 

Martini: That's right. I can't remember the street name now. 

Teiser: Was this just between his jobs elsewhere? 

Martini: Right, yes. Apparently, that was the family home. It had been 
the family home before, and it was also where he had built his 
little winery out behind the house when he first started bringing 
in some wines to deliver to restaurants. That was where he lived 
when he was working in San Francisco, when he and his father had 
the clamming business in the Bay. As far as I know it was the 
same place, and that wasn't sold until I guess after we moved to 
Kingsburg, although he worked around other places. He worked 
in Southern California and he worked at Lodi for a while. But I 
think he kept the house until he actually got settled in his own 
place in Kingsburg. 



Teiser: Then the family moved there in about '22; you would have been 
four then. 

Martini: Right. 

Teiser: And you lived there until 1940, after this winery was built? 

Martini: Yes. Oh yes. 

Teiser: You must be one of the few people who grew up at a winery, living 
on the winery grounds, during Prohibition. 

Martini: Yes, but I don't really remember that much about it. 

Teiser: Let's see, Prohibition ended in '33, so you were 

Martini: I was fifteen. 

Teiser: You were in school in Kingsburg? 

Martini: Through grammar school I was in Kingsburg. 

Teiser: Was Kingsburg so wine-oriented at that time that people did not 

notice that you had anything to do with wine or lived at a winery? 

Martini: Well, they were used to having the winery there, but they weren't 
so wine-oriented. Kingsburg is a community with a very high 
percentage of Swedish people in it. I remember the town had a 
population at that time of about 1300 people, and it had thirteen 
Protestant churches in it, and not a single Catholic church. So 
for us to go to church, we and a couple of Italian families and 
a couple of Mexican families, we had to go to Selma, which is 
five miles away. And one of the strongest organizations in town 
was the WCTU [Woman's Christian Temperance Union], so we were not 
necessarily the most popular people in town at the time. So I 
kind of have the feeling of how minority races feel some times, 
because we definitely were a minority race in that area. 

Teiser: As both Italians and winemakers? 

Martini: And Catholics! [laughter] 

Teiser: Did kids in school or anybody make fun of you? 

Martini: I really don't recall that (I tend to forget unpleasant things) , 
but then I was a very shy little kid and I didn't really mingle 
an awful lot. Now whether that was a reaction to they not 
mingling with me or vice versa, I'm not sure. 



Teiser: 



Martini: 



Teiser: 
Martini: 



Teiser: 



Martini: 



Of course the winery had been built by Italian Swiss, so they had 
heard the word Italian. 

Well , the winery had been owned by Italian Swiss Colony at one 
time, yes, but it wasn't necessarily built by Italians. [laughter] 
In fact, when my dad bought it, he bought it from F.Y. Foley. 
F.Y. Foley had originally I think bought it from Italian Swiss. 
My dad worked for him for a while, and then he went out of business 
when Prohibition came in. 

Was your home at Kingsburg a pleasant place? 

Yes, it was pleasant enough. We were on the outskirts of town, but 
not so far that I couldn't walk to school. There were three 
elementary schools that were divided up, you know, from first to 
fourth grade I guess, and then fifth and sixth, and then seventh 
and eighth at another place, and they were at opposite ends of 
the town, and I walked to school at all places. So at most we were 
a mile from school, that's all. 



It's a very clean town, 
was a very nice town. 



Wide streets and very clean. It 



The winery grounds themselves looked pleasant, 
trees, and the house must have been pleasant. 



There were a few 



Yes, there were some trees on it, and we started out with somewhat 
of an old shack, but little by little my dad fixed it up and 
built it up, and when it ended up it was a very nice home. 



The Brotherhood Winery 



Teiser: The Brotherhood Winery was on the grounds, or adjacent? 

Martini: Well, the Brotherhood Winery was simply a building that we put 

up and then leased to Brotherhood Corporation so that they could 
have a bonded winery in California, and we put some wine up for 
them, and it had their sign on it. 

Teiser: I think it had a separate bond. 



Martini: It had a separate bond, right, but it was on the same premises. 
It was our building; we just leased to them, yes. So when we 
sold wine to them, we could just move it over onto their premises 
actually. 

Teiser: Did they crush there? 

Martini: No, we did that. All they had was the storage building. In fact, 
I think they bought all their wine from us that went into that 
building anyway, and then from there it would be shipped back East 
to their eastern facility. Then they'd blend it back there. They 
did a lot of blending with New York State wines and this sort of 
thing. So I don't know what they did with it after they got it, 
but all the wines that went in there, as far as I know, we made; 
we just transferred over. 

Teiser: The wines that your father made there were all sold in bulk, 
were they? 

Martini: Yes, up until Prohibition was repealed of course. Then after 

Prohibition was repealed, we started bottling some wines under the 
Royale brand. 

Teiser: And those were sweet wines? 

Martini: Mostly sweet wines. There were a few drys a claret and a 

burgundy I think, maybe sauterne but most of them were sweet 
wines: muscatel, sherry, port. I don't know if we made white 
port or not, I can't remember now. Angelica. I don't know whether 
we made tokay or not either, I can't recall. 

Teiser: Did you find all that interesting? 

Martini: Yes, it was interesting. I mean I wasn't really that involved in 
the winery operation or the winemaking process or anything at that 
time. I was involved strictly in the mechanical work of putting 
capsules on bottles! [laughter] Pushing bottles around or wiping 
them or something like that! But I really didn't get involved in 
the winemaking. 

Teiser: Did your father have any vineyards of his own? 

Martini: There were about four or five acres at the winery, and then he 
had a twenty-acre parcel which had some grapes on it , about ten 
miles away, west of Selma, out in that area. 



8 



Teiser: Did you work in the vineyards? 

Martini: No, not really; not as a kid I didn't. I did mostly chores around 
the winery rather than in the vineyards. 

Teiser: So you weren't affected by the glamour of it all? 

Martini: I could never see too much glamour in it! [laughter] I still 
don't see too much glamour in it! 

Teiser: You have to come from outside the industry I guess to see it. 
Martini: I guess, yes. 



Wines for Religious Use 



Teiser: I want to ask you about the rabbi and his wife who lived at 
Kingsburg. 

Martini: Yes, well, we had a rabbi living on the premises, that is all that 
I can remember. Most of the other things that I know about him 
are the result of stories that my folks told later. He lived in 
a little house that was directly across the yard from us, and his 
purpose there was to oversee the production of the kosher wines 
that we were making at the time, the idea being that wines are 
supposed to be completely pure; they're not supposed to have 
anything added to them at all. 

Teiser: No sulfur dioxide? 

Martini: As far as I can recall, you're supposed to make kosher wines from 
grapes only, nothing else added to it. Of course in California 
you couldn't add water anyway, but back East and in other wineries 
in other places they could, and they could also add sugar back 
there. So things, like S0_, I don't think you could use either, 
although knowing what I know now about winemaking in hot countries, 
I think it would have been pretty difficult to make it without it. 

Teiser: Perhaps somebody threw in a little? 

Martini: I wouldn't be surprised. He couldn't be there twenty-four hours a 
day. 

Teiser: The Catholic church was more lenient in this respect? 



Martini; 



Teiser: 



Martini; 



Teiser: 



Martini: 



Teiser: 



Martini; 



Teiser: 



Well, the Catholic church had some 
their altar wines, although we didn 
church. In fact, I can't recall us 
was something local; you know, just 
wines or something like that. They 
of 18-percent-top alcohol, but they 
and they didn't require the degree 
required. 



regulations with regard to 
't do much for the Catholic 
doing anything unless there 
they bought some of the regular 
had a requirement, I think, 
didn't require any supervision 
of purity that the kosher wines 



Martini wines and grape products, then, went more into medicinal 
and remanufacturing purposes? 

Well, actually our biggest part of our business at that time was 
not wines but grape concentrate, and then I suppose he also made 
some brandy because I know we had a still; he made some brandy 
for shipment into Canada, because you could make it but of course 
you couldn't sell it anywhere in this country. Then also we made 
some medicinal wines and some of these sacramental wines. But 
most of our business, I think, was grape concentrate. 

I said that I came across a leaflet from 1958 for your altar wine 
for the Episcopal church. 

In 1958 we had a person working for us here, Bob Nicolson, who 
was a very strong Episcopalian, and he felt that there was a market 
for some wines, that they could be put up directly from the 
Episcopal church and distributed throughout the United States, 
through the various, well, I don't know whether they call them 
dioceses or what they call them, but anyway areas for the Episcopal 
church, under their label. 

Well, we did sell some for a while, but it never really took 
off. Part of it was because of state regulations, part of it was 
the difficulty of getting it to remote places without excessive 
freight charges and so on for small quantities, because nobody 
ever took very much at one time. But if you added it all together, 
it could have amounted to a fair amount of wine if you could get 
it to them. 

Was there consideration given in 1940 to selling both the Kingsburg 
and the St. Helena winery? 

We had never contemplated selling St. Helena; the purpose of 
selling the Kingsburg plant was to move to St. Helena. 

Silas Sinton was a partner in the Kingsburg company, L. M. Martini 
Grape Products? 



10 



Martini: Yes, Silas Sinton was a partner with my dad in the Kingsburg 
plant and in the inventory here; but the plant in St. Helena 
belonged strictly to my dad. He bought the land and built the 
plant. Then as he bought out Mr. Sinton who wanted to get out 
of the wine business he bought him out on a phase-out basis: 
the wine we sold belonged to the partnership , and the wine my 
dad made belonged to him personally. 

Teiser: Yesterday afternoon I was reading over the Napa Valley Wine 

Library interviews with Napa Valley vintners , and I was struck 
by how many of them were frequently in and out of deals, as 
compared to this company, which seems to have been 

Martini: Well, I think that's true of any business. There are some people 
that like to get mixed up with a lot of other people in their 
business dealings, and there are some people that are independent 
as a hog on ice, you might say, and don't want to get mixed up 
with a lot of other people. We happen to be one of the latter 
ones. [laughter] 



Louis M. Martini and the Prorate 



Teiser: I believe your father had a brandy still at Kingsburg. Then he 
would have been part of the prorate, wouldn't he? 

Martini: That's correct, yes, he was part of the prorate. 
Teiser: Were you aware of that at the time? 

Martini: I was aware that something was going on that he didn't like, but 
I wasn't really quite sure what it was. 

Teiser: He didn't like it? 

Martini: No, he didn't like that very much. He didn't like the government 
telling him what he should do with his product , no matter what the 
situation was. But I really didn't know what was going on. All 
I know about that really is what I've read in books since then. 

Teiser: You would have been around though when the prorate brandy came 
out of storage. 



11 



Martini: Well, see we weren't involved in it then because we didn't have 
any. We had sold the brandy with the plant down there. 

Teiser: And your rights to the prorate brandy, then. 

Martini: Yes, we weren't involved in it at all at that time. In other 

words, when we moved up here we were out of the prorate; we didn't 
have anything to do with it any more. 



The Move to St. Helena, 1940 



Teiser: You continued actually keeping your home at Kingsburg until 1940, 
and your father went back and forth between the two wineries? 

Martini: Right. Then we actually physically moved furniture, family, dogs, 
cats, everything up here in spring of 1940. 

Teiser: And had your father built his home near by then? 

Martini: No. There was a home here before that, on that same site where 
his home was that he rebuilt. But we moved into another little 
house that was down below at that time. (It's still there.) Then 
he started tearing down the old one that was there. He started 
tearing it down just at the start of the war, but couldn't 
rebuild because of the war. So after he got it torn down, the 
place just sat there for four years until he could get some 
building materials and start building, and he started building 
right after the war was over and finished it in '52 or '53, somewhere 
in there. 

Teiser: Is it Mr. Anthony Scotto who bought it? 

Martini: No, no. Mr. Jerry Komes. They're the people that now have Flora 
Springs winery. Scotto was going to buy it. He had an option on 
it to start with, but it never materialized, he never finished 
the transaction. Komes came along and bought it afterwards. 

Teiser: So you continued growing up mainly at Kingsburg? 

Martini: Yes, but by that time I wasn't spending much time at home. We 

used to spend weekends up here. Dad had fixed several rooms up in 
the old house. Of course I went to the San Rafael Military Academy 
for high school, and that wasn't very far away. When my folks were 
here, I'd come up here on weekends, and we spent a fair amount of 



12 



Martini: the summers here. I graduated from Cal in '41, and I was back 

here six months. Then I went in the service for four years, and 
I didn't get back home until '46 again, so I didn't really spend 
much time here other than intermittently. 

Teiser: Your father bought this in '33, and he started building the 
winery immediately, didn't he? 

Martini: Yes. 

Teiser: Am I correct in remembering that he was interested first in buying 
the Krug property? 

Martini: Yes, he looked at Krug's property, and he couldn't get together 
with whoever owned it then; [James K. ] Moffitt, I think it was. 
And then he also looked at Greystone [Cellars] , and there again 
they couldn't get together. 

Teiser: How would you have liked to have been saddled with Greystone now? 
[laughing] 

Martini: Well, I'm glad we didn't get it, frankly! It would be quite a 

process to renovate that with our family. Anyway, it wasn't really 
adaptable for what he wanted to do. He built this place to be 
adaptable for what he really wanted to do , and that was the reason 
he made it so that it would take large tanks, because he was thinking 
in terms of, you know, one red and one white wine out of the north 
coast for bottling down in Kingsburg; that's what his thoughts 
were at the time. 

Teiser: Do you remember your first impressions of the winery as it was 
building? 

Martini: I really don't. What I really remember is coming up here when 
we were looking for property, a year or two before we purchased 
it, and he used to park us that is, my mother and sister and I at 
the old St. Helena Hotel in town, and then he'd take off, and we 
didn't see him all day. I remember that very well because I 
remember wandering all around town on my own and looking the town 
over. But I was about twelve then, so I really wasn't that 
interested in the winery and its operation. I was looking around 
at the mountains more, places where I could ride horseback later 
on, more than I was at the vineyards or the wineries! 

,v 

Teiser: When you came here in '41, after you had finished college, then 
that was maybe your first really analytical look at it? 



13 



Martini: Well, no, I spent some time in the summers up here during college. 
Teiser: What did you do then? 

Martini: Oh, worked in the bottling set-up here in the winery, or I 

remember I did a lot of hand-corking with the hand set-up , and 
he was building a stone wall that's up there at the home place, 
so I hauled a lot of rocks with dump trucks from what would now 
be the bottom of Conn Lake up here, out of Conn Valley, picking 
them up out of a creek and hauling them up there, and, you know, 
did just general things to keep busy around. One summer I spent 
cleaning out all the dead trees in the forest behind us, and 
things like that; things that a young fellow can do. 

Teiser: Were you aware of any of the lab work that was going on? 

Martini: We really didn't do very much. Yes, I did some of it, but not a 
lot. We had a chemist in Kingsburg, and most of the samples and 
everything were all shipped down to Kingsburg , and they were taken 
care of down there. We didn't do hardly any lab work up here at 
all at that point, that is, as long as we had Kingsburg. We 
didn't set the lab up actually until after we moved out of 
Kingsburg. 

Teiser: Who was your chemist or were there a number of them in Kingsburg? 

Martini: Well, there was a man named Vanderveen, who was kind of the chief 
chemist. Then we had I'm trying to think of his name a Japanese 
fellow, who had been a food tech graduate out of Berkeley about 
four years before I was there. Kiyoshi Nobusada was his name. 
N-o-b-u-s-a-d-a, I think. I think that's right. His first name 
was Kiyoshi, and everybody called him just Kay. 

Teiser: Were you interested at all in his work? 

Martini: Oh yes, when I was in Kingsburg I used to go up in the lab, and 

he'd give me a job of running alcohols or doing something relatively 
simple that was more or less routine work, and I would run those 
or run total acids or something like this. 

But we didn't have a tremendous amount of lab work to do 
really. In those days we weren't doing that much bottling; we 
weren't as aware of shelf life and things of this nature as we are 
now the wine was allowed to settle out naturally so we didn't 
do a lot of the more sophisticated analyses at all. 

Teiser: Did you keep a library of vintages to taste? 



14 



Martini: No. We really didn't start doing that until, oh, I kind of 

started doing that here, but I didn't really get started on it 
until the late fifties or so. My dad never kept any real library 
of vintages to taste either. 

We have some wines in the library dating back to the forties, 
but they just happen to be around; there wasn't anybody trying 
to keep them for any special reason; they just were there. I 
salvaged all these sometime in the early fifties, when I decided 
that we ought to keep a little bit of track on them. For a long 
time they just sat around in cases off to one side, and finally 
in more recent years we built a wine library downstairs and we've 
got them all stacked away in bins now. 



University of California, 1937-1941 



Teiser: Let me go back to your schooling in San Rafael. Did you have 
any special interests in your high school years? 

Martini: My main goals at San Rafael were to get grades to get into Cal! 
[laughing] I wanted to go to Cal. And at the time I wanted to 
major in chemistry because I thought that was the natural avenue 
for winemaking. When I got there, I found out that that really 
wasn't the way I wanted to go in the first place. I wanted 
something more practical than theoretical chemistry would have 
been, and that's why I switched over to food tech. The academy 
[at San Rafael] was pretty academic. It didn't have very many 
elective courses, other than the requirements for the university. 
In other words they were all solids; you couldn't stray very far 
afield. 

fi 

Teiser: In 1937 you entered Cal, then. Did you like it? 

Martini: Yes, I liked it very much. To me, it was ideal because it was 
very impersonal. Nobody bothered me; everybody left you alone. 
You either made it or you didn't, and nobody seemed to care one 
way or the other! So I thought it was fine. 

Teiser: You didn't go directly into food technology? 

Martini: I started in the first year in the College of Chemistry. I 

didn't even realize that such a curriculum as food technology 
existed, frankly, when I went in. I just started with the idea of 



15 



Martini: going through chemistry. Then I started reading catalogs and 

whatnot and found out that food technology existed , and checked 
into it, and met Dr. [William V.] Cruess, and so on, and decided 
to switch over. 

Teiser: Dr. Cruess was an enthusiastic teacher for a young man to meet, 
I should think. 

Martini: Yes, he was. He was very enthusiastic about his field. 

Teiser: You couldn't have taken enology or viticulture as a major, could 
you? 

Martini: Well, that was given at Davis. But I wasn't really interested 

in that, you know, to take that as a single major, because I wasn't 
sure at the time whether I really wanted to come back to a winery. 
I wanted another outlet, and it looked to me like the enology- 
viticulture major was too narrow. 

Teiser: Food technology would have taken you where? 

Martini: Oh, you could have gone into lots of fields. The frozen food 
field was just getting started at that time. Canning. Olive 
products. Dried food products. All sorts of processed foods and 
vegetables. There were a lot of fields that you could move into 
with a food tech major. 

Now, of course, the two are combined. They're both under food 
science, and so the requirements are pretty much the same for 
both, other than you take some enology courses instead of taking, 
I guess, fruit-drying courses or something. But at that time they 
were completely separate, even on different campuses. 

Teiser: The food technology would have taken you into large companies 
though, wouldn't it? 

Martini: Probably, yes. 

Teiser: Were you thinking in those terms? 

Martini: I wasn't thinking in terms of large companies or small companies; 
I was just thinking that I wanted to get through college and equip 
myself with something that I could earn a living at. And if it 
was to be in the winery, fine. If I didn't like the idea of going 
to a winery, I simply wanted another outlet. 



16 



Martini: I knew when I went to college that I would have to major in 

something related to math and science because I just can't think 
in terms of history and English and these sort of things. I knew 
that if I were going to try to major in something other than that, 
I'd probably flunk out, because I seldom worked in courses that 
I didn't like. 

So regardless of what field it was in, whether I ended up 
in chemistry or biology or bacteriology or whatever, it had to 
be in one of those areas, and it looked to me like at the time 
that food technology was pretty good. In the first place, it 
would prepare me adequately for the winery if I chose to go into 
it. Also Dr. Cruess was placing everybody he was graduating at 
the time, and that wasn't true of all departments. He apparently 
had no trouble finding jobs for people if they graduated in food 
tech, in one food industry or another. 

Teiser: Well, one of his many attributes was his ability to keep close 
to industry, wasn't it? 

Martini: That's true. Yes, that's absolutely right. He kept very close 
to industry. He knew my dad and mother, and he had been down to 
Kingsburg, and he visisted them. In fact, he'd even carried, out 
some experiments there. As I recall, Dr. Cruess started a row of 
barrels of sherry under the film process at Kingsburg. I believe 
wines were made from different grapes at different alcohols, 
etcetera. I cannot recall what happened to the experiment. 

At UC, when I finally went to see him, which was the end 
of my freshman year, he said, "Why didn't you come see me before 
you entered school here?" I said, "Well, I didn't want to bother 
anybody." He said, "I'd have got you started in the right place 
in the first place!" But all the courses that I had in the 
College of Chemistry would have been required for the other 
anyway, so I didn't lose out on that at all. 



Professors' Influences 



Teiser: Did Dr. Cruess kind of direct your thinking about your studies? 
Did he focus them? 

Martini: Yes, he focused them. When we had individual projects he always 
focused me toward winemaking. [laughter] He always gave me the 
job that usually had something to do with winemaking. I know I took 



17 



Martini: a 199 course from him when I was a junior, and there again he 
put me on a project that had to do with winemaking, studying 
some Chalon yeast from France. Also, whenever we had projects in 
lab experiments and so on, he always saved the ones that had 
something to do with winemaking or grape processing. He gave 
me those to do. 

So I did a little research work for Dr. Cruess on the Chalon 

yeast, but none of it was ever published. First of all, I never 

finished the project because I didn't have time at the end of the 
year. 

Teiser: On what yeast? 

Martini: Well, you know, the Chalon yeast are a film yeast that grow in 

the Jura district of France, and they form a kind of a slightly 
oxidized wine with a very peculiar flavor of that particular 
region. 

So he had a gallon jug of this stuff, half full, with the 
film growing on it. He handed me this jug and he said, "Isolate 
and identify all the organisms in that film." And I got about 
twenty isolated, but I only got through identifying about seven 
of them before the term ended. Since I was carrying a full load 
of other courses anyway, I just didn't have that much time. I 
think that was the year I was carrying seventeen units, and mostly 
lab courses, so I really didn't have that much time. I shouldn't 
have undertaken it to begin with. 

I got the food tech courses all in in one year, plus I think 
two intersessions; I had to go to intersessions because they 
wouldn't fit otherwise, there were too many conflicts. I had to 
go to intersession to take some of the other courses that I had to 
take that would have interfered. They were part of the curriculum, 
but were not in food tech. 

In the senior year I moved to Davis and took all of the 
enology and viticulture courses that they had to offer as electives 
at that time. I wanted to finish in four years; I didn't want 
to dilly-dally around for a fifth year. 



At Davis, Maynard [A.] 
some 199 courses. 

Teiser: What are 199 courses? 



Amerine asked me if I wanted to take 



18 



Martini: Well, that's undergraduate experimental work. I suppose that's 

still the designation. At that time 199 always meant undergraduate 
experimental work. 

And he asked me if I wanted to take some, and after my 
experience with Dr. Cruess, I said, "No, but I'd be glad to work 
on some project if you want me to, but I don't need the credits, 
and I don't want to take it for credit because then I've got to 
complete something and write it up and so on and so forth , and if 
I don't feel like it, I don't want to have to do it. [laughter] 
But I will take on a project if I can complete it or do some work 
on it during the semester, fine." 

So he gave me a project to work on glycerol formation in 
wines that had been started by somebody previously who hadn't 
completed it and had quite a bit more work to do on it. So I 
worked on that during my senior year as a special project, and 
that was published eventually. 

Teiser: You with two collaborators, is that it? 
Martini: Yes, [William] DeMattei and Amerine on that.* 

Then after I got out I was always interested in this film 
yeast for sherry I had just got started on doing some experimental 
work up here at the winery when the war came along. I left, and 
four years later, when I came back, then I started all over 
again, and we did some work here at the winery on flor sherries. 

Teiser: Let me take you back, then, to Cal, before you come up here again. 
Did you work closely with anyone but Cruess and Amerine? 

Martini: No, not really. You mean the experimental work? 
Teiser: Or in study? People who influenced you? 

Martini: Well, for professors at Berkeley of course I had [George L.] Marsh 
and [Emil M. ] Mrak and [Maynard A.] Joslyn and Cruess, those were 
the four main ones in food tech. And at Davis the two main ones 
were Amerine and [Albert J.] Winkler; those were the only two I 
can really remember up there. 



*M.A. Amerine, L.P. Martini, and W. DeMattei, "Foaming Properties 
of Wines," 



19 



Teiser: Well, you certainly studied with distinguished men. 
Martini: Yes, I'd say they were. 

Teiser: Did the others besides Cruess and Amerine have influence upon 
you in any way? 

Martini: Well, I don't know. I suppose that when you work closely with 

some professors that an awful lot of their style of thinking and 
assessing things and evaluating them rubs off on you whether you 
really realize it or not. 

I'll give you an example of that. Some years ago we noticed 
in our Napa vineyard some damage on the vines by 2-4-D. We had an 
experimental block at that time of one row each of maybe twenty 
different varieties, so when I noticed some damage on the other 
vineyards out in the field, I went to the experimental block and 
looked to see. Well, I noticed that some vines were badly injured; 
symptoms showed up pretty strong on some vines, some vines weakly, 
some vines not at all. So I just took a pad and a pencil, and 
I went through and I marked them according to four pluses for the 
badly injured, three pluses, two pluses, one plus, and so on. Then 
I threw that thing in the desk drawer and completely forgot about 
it. 

About ten years later, I was sitting in here in the office 
and talking to Dr. Winkler, and he said he was about to come out 
with a paper on 2-4-D damage for grapevines, but he didn't quite 
have enough data on some varieties, and he was wondering whether 
I had ever noticed any damage or anything on different varieties. 
I said, "Gee, you know, that rings a bell. Somewhere I've got 
some notes." And I scrambled around through the desk, and finally 
I found this old pad, and I came out with these things and he looked 
at it and he said, "That's exactly what I want!" [laughter] So 
he incorporated it in the paper and it gave him more confidence 
in it. And it was also the same way he had them evaluated in his 
paper; he had given them four pluses, three pluses, two pluses, 
and one plus. So obviously I didn't dream that one up by myself. 
You know, somewhere in the background that must have stuck with 
me that that would be a logical way of assessing damage to a 
vineyard. So I suppose more of the things that you do are probably 
the result of contact with some of these professors than you 
realize at the time. 

Teiser: Dr. Mrak, as I recall, was inclined to question? 



20 



Martini: Yes, to some extent. The one that was really inclined to question 
all the time I thought was Joslyn. I mean he was the ultimate 
as far as questioning. Even more so than Mrak was, I think. 
He was also very much more of a stickler for detail than Mrak was. 

Teiser: Do you feel that he gave you an analytical sense that you might 
not have had? 

Martini: Yes, I think both he and Amerine gave me I would say that if I 
have any analytical sense at all that probably he and Amerine 
contributed the most to it, of trying to delve into something 
and really analyse it, more so than the others did. 

Though Amerine used to impart a lot of information, Joslyn 
imparted a lot of information but so much of it went over my head. 
I'm not sure how much I actually retained! He had an almost 
photographic memory of things in books. You could never not read 
an article let's say, read only the summary of an article and 
then expect to answer his questions , because he knew the words in 
the article. When he asked the questions, he knew exactly what 
the answer was going to be, and if you tried to bluff your way 
through it he'd catch you every time; you could never get by with 
it with Joslyn. And it never bothered him to embarrass you in 
class if he did catch you at it. [laughter] 

Teiser: Your contact with Winkler, then, came in your last year, and you 
took courses with him? 

Martini: Yes. The viticulture courses were, as far as I can remember, all 
given by him; I don't remember anybody else giving them. 

Teiser: Was that your first real study of viticulture? 

Martini: Yes, that's right. Most of my studies before that had all been 
concerned with the enology side of it. 

Teiser: Not plant science. 

Martini: Well, I'd had some courses in plant physiology and things of this 
nature, but I'd never had any in viticulture. 

Teiser: I gather that you were not as interested in the vineyard as the 
winery . 

Martini: That's right, yes. 

Teiser: Where did you start your work on clonal selection? 



21 



Martini: We started that in Napa County after the war. 
Teiser: You didn't start it at Davis? 

Martini: No, no. I didn't have anything to do with it at Davis. It all 
came about in chatting with [Harold P.] Olmo one time, and I 
mentioned that I thought that maybe we ought to take a closer look 
at a lot of these clones, and he said he'd been wanting to do that 
for a long time, and he in fact had already started the work before. 
But with his help, we went out and selected some various clones 
in mixed vineyards, and started propagating them in Napa. That's 
when we really started. And I would say that wasn't until after I 
was actually living in Napa County. I started living there in '47 
and it wasn't until '48 or '49 that we started that work. 

Teiser: You hadn't studied with Olmo at Davis? 

Martini: No. In fact, I don't remember meeting him until after I came back 
from the service. 

Teiser: He had written, I think, a rather influential paper on improvement 
within varieties.* 

Martini: Yes. 

Teiser: That's clonal selection, isn't it? 

Martini: Yes, right. 

And then we started working on Chardonnay, Riesling, and 
Pinot noir, those three varieties. 

Teiser: I'll ask you more about that later.** 

At Davis, everybody knew your father, I suppose. 
Martini: Oh yes. 
Teiser: So you must have been greeted as an old friend. 



*" Improvement Within Grape Varieties," Grape Growers. December 
1947. 

**See pages 82-83. 



22 



Martini: 



Teiser: 
Martini: 



Teiser: 
Martini: 



Teiser: 

Martini: 

Teiser: 
Martini: 



Teiser: 
Martini: 



Well, I_ didn't know any of them; I was just greeted like another 
student, I didn't notice anything special, other than Maynard 
[Amerine] , who looked me up after I got into class and asked me 
if I wanted to do some special work or not . Other than that , I 
didn't notice any difference. 

I see, but he did that. 

Well, he did that partially because of the background that I'd 
had from Berkeley and he had this work started which required 
quite a lot of analysis, and since I'd had that background at 
Berkeley he thought probably I'd be a good one to work on it. 

And you've remained friends since, haven't you? 

Oh yes, we've been good friends ever since. In fact, that was 
one nice thing about both enology and food tech is that you 
remained good friends with all your professors, more so than 
certainly lots of other divisions in the university scene. 

I should ask also about your contemporaries. The people who were 
at Berkeley and Davis in your years , many of them have become 
prominent in the wine industry, have they not? 



Yes. Especially at Berkeley, 
were at Davis in my class. 

Who were they? 



I can't recall too many of them that 



Well, at Berkeley there was Charlie [Charles] Crawford, with 
Gallo. The late Ze'ev Halperin, who died a year and a half or two 
years ago; he was with Christian Brothers. And Myron Nightingale, 
just this year retired from Beringer's. 

He's retired? 

Yes. He's kind of sticking around as a consultant, but he's 
retired. 

And the other fellow in that same group that ended up in the 
wine industry was Aram Ohenasian. He was with Cella Vineyards in 
Fresno and then later with United Vintners. 



Teiser: You still have reunions, don't you? 



23 



Martini: We've been getting together about once every two, three years, 

something like that, at one place or another. Of course the three 
of us that are still active in the industry are on several Wine 
Institute committees together, so we see each other fairly often. 

Teiser: You graduated in '41 at Berkeley? 
Martini: Yes, I graduated at Berkeley. 






24 



II CAREER AT THE LOUIS M. MARTINI WINERY, ST. HELENA 



Working in the Winery, 1941 



Teiser: You must have known that your father hoped that you would come 
into winemaking with him, I suppose. 

Martini: Oh yes, I assumed he did. But that didn't make any difference to 
me; I figured that I was going to do what I wanted to do! I 
thought that I should probably come in, but if I was going to 
absolutely hate it once I got in it, I wasn't about to stay in it. 

Teiser: So you came home 

Martini: And I went to work in the winery. 

Teiser: What did you do? 

Martini: Well, in those days I did a little bit of everything. The first 
thing I started doing was setting up a lab, in between doing 
whatever needed to be done out in the winery. I did kind of help 
my dad run the fermenting room that one year, 1941. 

Teiser: Was that the first time you'd been through a harvest season? 

Martini: Yes, because every other time during fermenting season I was always 
in school. I remember Cal used to start in August, so I was 
always at school when fermenting season came around. So other than 
just maybe coming up on a weekend or something, I never really got 
much chance to be in the fermenting room before. So that was my 
first real experience with a full season anyway. 



25 



Wine Characteristics and Winemaking Goals 



Teiser: 
Martini: 



Teiser: 
Martini: 
Teiser: 
Martini: 



Teiser: 
Martini: 



Had you been tasting earlier with your father? 

Not too much. My first real exposure to tasting analytical 
tasting, not just drinking wine at home came first at Berkeley 
and then that year at Davis; more at Davis actually than at 
Berkeley, we did a lot more tasting up there. Of course they had 
some of the wine up there. 

Did you taste with Dr. Cruess? 
Yes. 



Was he a good taster? 

Yes, I think so. Yes, I think he was probably very good, 
wouldn't have known the difference then. [laughter] 



But I 



Then, at Davis they were I thought much more analytical in 
their tasting and took more time with it and went through the 
statistical analysis and did all these sort of things that they 
did not do at Berkeley. But we tasted other things too. At 
Berkeley we had cuttings of canned fruit and all sorts of things 
like this that we tasted, and it was all very interesting. 



I suppose there's some carry-over? 



Yes. Well, I think it ' s a parallel to tasting almost anything. 
I think if you can judge one food item, providing you have some 
idea of what the criteria are, you could almost judge any food 
item; providing you know what you're supposed to be looking for, 
and not something completely strange. But you can generally tell 
whether something is in good balance or isn't in good balance, 
whether something is too sweet or not sweet enough, or too coarse; 
there are so many things. 

I remember one time my wife got the job of judging cakes down 
at the fair. She went through and judged and she had about fifteen 
cakes to judge, a job I would have loved! [laughter] But anyway, 
she brought a little piece of each cake home for me to taste, and 
she said, "I wanted to see how you would rate them." Well, it 
ended up we rated them the same way. Then when she asked me, "Why 
did you rate this one over that one?" I said, "Well, this is 
okay, but this has got a finer texture" or "it's got a better--" 



26 



Martini: And I don't know anything about cakes, other than I've eaten 

them all my life. So I think really if you have some idea of what 
you're looking for, if you can judge one item you can pretty well 
judge almost any other food item. It's because I think you're 
trained to take it apart and consider it component by component 
rather than just an overall taste. 

Teiser: You have been drinking your father's wine since you were fairly 
young I suppose you drank it at home with meals 

Martini: Oh, we drank wine and water. I think I drank very little straight 
wine until after I came back from the service. At home we always 
drank wine with water in it. 

Teiser: Just plain water, not bottled water? 
Martini: No, just plain water. 

Teiser: Do you think that that established any criteria for the way you 
believe wine should taste though? 

Martini: Oh, I think I'm definitely biased to our style of wine, yes. Now 
whether that's because we make it or that's because I've been 
drinking it all the time, I don't know, but yes, I think it would 
establish some criteria in your taste as to what you like for wine. 
I find that there 're a lot of wines on the market that are declared 
very, very good, and technically I can't argue with it, they are 
very, very good, but I wouldn't buy them. I wouldn't enjoy 
drinking them. 

Teiser: As a consumer, I think if you can find a winemaker who makes the 
kind of wine you like 

Martini: Yes, well, generally you'll find that different winemaker s have 
certain styles, and they'll stick with it pretty close. 

Teiser: Your taste in general agreed with your father's? 

Martini: Yes, pretty much, pretty much. We had small differences. One of 
the differences that we had: He was more for getting a perfectly 
balanced and rounded wine that was good as a wine. It didn't 
concern him too much if the Cabernet tasted a lot like Cabernet or 
didn't taste a lot like Cabernet , or if the Zinf andel tasted like 
Zinfandel or didn't taste so much like Zinf andel. When I_ started 
taking over the winemaking, I got a little more concerned: I still 
wanted a nice, rounded wine, but I also wanted it to taste strongly 



27 



Martini: or as strongly as possible of a specific variety so it could be 

more easily distinguishable. But he was more for making a really 
good wine as such, a wine that has all of the ingredients in it 
that make it a well-rounded wine, and what it was labeled didn't 
concern him so much as whether it was really good or not. This 
was his general philosophy. 

In other words, if he had to blend it to 50 percent to make 
it an exceptionally good wine and that blended out most of the 
varietal character, he would rather blend it to 50 percent, blend 
out most of the character, and make a very good wine out ot it, 
a well-balanced wine, than to leave more character in and not have 
quite as perfect a balanced wine. 

Teiser: I wonder if this relates: I remember that Frank Schoonmaker came 
here and saw that your father had varietal wines separated in 
storage. I guess he was going to blend into, maybe generic wines. 

Martini: Well, yes, often that's true. 

Teiser: And Schoonmaker suggested that he label them 

Martini: Separately, yes. 

Teiser: By variety. Did that change his thinking at all, do you think, on 
this subject? 

Martini: No, he believed in perfecting a wine by blending. Of primary 

importance was perfecting the wine, of secondary importance was 
the degree of varietal characteristic that that wine would carry. 

I still want to perfect a wine if I can, but I do think that 
if you label a wine by a certain variety, it should have at least 
a very easily detectable characteristic of that variety. If you 
have to blend it so far that you don't detect a characteristic 
any more, then you should label it as something else, you know. 
Simply because it's made from Cabernet grapes does not automatically 
make it a Cabernet; it has to taste like Cabernet too. 

Teiser: His way could take you into proprietary names, couldn't it? 

Martini: Yes, yes. 

Teiser: Did he consider it ever? 



28 



Martini: He did it once. He put out a wine that he called Monte Rosso for 
a while. It was generally a blend of three or four different 
varieties. We put out another one in the f iaschi when we used 
to be able to get the fiaschi that also was that label. But 
neither one of them sold very well, although the wines were good 
wines. They didn't catch on, so we dropped them eventually. But 
that was the idea, to put out a wine just called Monte Rosso and 
make a red out of grapes from that vineyard, but blend the 
different varieties so it doesn't have the distinction of just one 
variety. 

If 

Teiser: A wine with a special name like that, you'd have to promote it 

pretty heavily in order to get a decent price for it, would you not? 

Martini: That's true, yes. The real problem was we didn't have the 

promotion behind it, and it probably wouldn't have been worth the 
promotion that it would have taken to sell it . 

Teiser: Now, with the higher varietal requirements, there are more restraints 
on labelling, are there not? 

Martini: You have to have at least 75 percent of the named grape in the 

blend. Over the years we've kind of taken care of that by having 
the same grape grown in more than one area, and by doing that you 
accomplish almost the same thing as you do by blending different 
grape varieties, without really losing the characteristic of the 
variety, as far as trying to perfect a blend and balance it. 

Teiser: You mean you grow, say, Zinfandel grapes that have one 

Martini: Oh, we grow Zinfandel grapes for instance on our Monte Rosso ranch 
in Sonoma; we have a grower right up the road here a ways and he 
grows some for us; and we grow them in Chiles Valley. And the 
final lot of Zinfandel that we put out is often a blend of those 
three vineyards. Cabernet we grow in even more places than that. 

Teiser: How do those three, say, differ? 

Martini: Well, their characteristics are generally different. If you were 
to take the wines separately, you could tell them apart very 
easily. For instance, the Sonoma Zinfandel is usually a heavier, 
robust, very strongly flavored wine, sometimes too strongly 
flavored. The Chiles Valley Zinfandel is much milder, generally 
good acidity, but much lighter tannin and much lighter body to it, 



29 



Martini: and not as alcoholic. And then the one over here is closer to 
the Sonoma one than it is to Chiles Valley, but it's still a 
little different character because it comes from this valley 
rather than on the mountainside. So they're a little bit 
different, and we just fool around with the three of them until 
we get the characteristic that we want in the Zinfandel. And 
we do that with most varieties now. 

Teiser: Have you changed since this higher requirement? 

Martini: Well, with one or two exceptions, our varieties have always been 

75 percent to 85 percent of the total anyway, so the new requirement 
doesn't really affect us one way or another that much. And I 
think, frankly, there's been a lot of noise by wine writers about 
the new requirement, but for most wineries that make top-quality 
wines, I don't think it's going to have any effect on them at all 
because we're all using high percentages. 

Teiser: It must be the present surplus of grapes that is bringing a lot 
of blends under special names onto the market now. 

Martini: I'm sure they're trying every angle they can to get rid of some 
wines. You know, if it weren't for the surplus situation, you 
wouldn't have a lot of these white wines made out of red grapes 
either, but they're making them out of everything. 

Teiser: Do you do any of that? 

Martini: No. We haven't yet. We may for the first time this year. Mike 
[Michael Martini] made some Beaujolais nouveau, which I don't 
particularly like, whether it's ours or anybody else's, I just 
don't like young, raw wines. Some people raved about it, but I 
can't see it. I've tasted too many young wines in my life, I guess, 
so that I think wine needs some maturing. But the small amount 
we made seems to sell all right, so I suppose we'll do it again 
next year. 

Teiser: What happens if you leave it around? 

Martini: Well, it'll age into a regular wine, eventually. But it obviously 

hasn't got the same character. It just tastes like any other Camay, 
though it won't have the same character that the nouveau has. 

Teiser: So you went through the vintage season in '41 here. 

Martini: Yes, I went through the vintage season; well, right up until 
Pearl Harbor. 



30 



Army Air Corps Service, 1941-1945 



Martini: When Pearl Harbor came along, I scouted around and decided to 
enlist in one service or the other, and I ended up in the Air 
Force. It was called the Army Air Corps then. I was in armament. 
We maintained all of the armament equipment. 

Teiser: Was your experience in those years the four years that you were 
in the service of value? 

Martini: Well, I would say yes. In handling personnel it was very valuable. 
You had all sorts of men under you. By the time I got up into 
group headquarters, I had three officers and about 300 men that 
were working on armament of a group of airplanes, and that experience 
alone was very valuable. The experience of actually working on 
armament equipment doesn't do much good in the winery, other than 
it's mechanical. [laughing] I learned a lot about guns. But 
primarily it was the personnel thing. Of course, I'd had the four 
years of military school before, so the military part of it I had 
already had. In fact, the discipline was far tougher at the 
military school than it ever was in the Army Air Corps. [laughter] 
But I would say in handling personnel and just generally maturing 
and, you know, giving you an opportunity to do something on your 
own and gain confidence, that sort of thing was undoubtedly helpful 
afterwards. 

Teiser: At the largest, how many people do you have involved in this 
winery? I mean in the whole operation. 

Martini: In the whole operation, probably at the very peak of harvest 

season, when all vineyards are picking, a hundred at the most. And 
the vineyards pretty well take care of themselves. We have a 
foreman on each ranch and they're very good and they handle our 
men, so we don't really directly from here have much to do with the 
individual people on the ranches. 

Teiser: When you came out in '45 was your term of duty over? 

Martini: Well, at the end of the war they started discharging people that 

wanted out, according to the number of points you had accumulated 
and that depended upon a lot of things during the service and 
when my turn came, I had a choice. I could have stayed in if I'd 
wanted to. And I would have thought about it had I not had the 
winery to come back to, because I didn't mind it. Just before I 
got out, I'd made major, and the pay was pretty good and I couldn't 
complain about the life or anything; I didn't mind the military 
part at all. 



Return to the Winery 



31 



Martini: But I thought I really ought to come back to the winery and give 
it a crack and see how it would work out. So I just mustered out 
into the reserves, that's all, and stayed in the reserves. I still 
am in the reserves. 

Teiser: If you'd got back here and decided you really didn't like it, 
could you have gone back into the military? 

Martini: Probably. I was called back for Korea, back to active duty. But 
whether it was a stroke of luck or not, at the time I had a 
Well, I've had a bum back actually all my life, but I never told 
the army about it when I first went in. But this time I really 
didn't want to go back because things were going too good here. 
So I told them about it this time and gave them a history of it 
and so on. Then they said unless I waived my back so that they 
wouldn't end up being responsible for it, they wouldn't let me back 
in. So I said, well, I didn't really think I wanted to waive my 
back. [laughter] So they said, "Well, then we'll have to put 
you in the retired reserves." And I said, "That's fine with me." 

I figured there wasn't any point in remaining in the active 
reserves if every time we get involved in a skirmish someplace 
you get called back to active duty, and if you're running a plant 
you just can't take off for two years here and two years there. It's 
one thing going for two weeks someplace; it's something else going 
for a year or two years. So I figured, "Well, I better get out 
of this active reserves business." And they didn't need me 
anyway. They had officers running out of their ears in that place 
that they didn't know what to do with, so I figured there was no 
point in going back. I wouldn't mind having gone back if we were 
in an all-out war and I really felt we were needed, but I didn't 
feel we were needed at all. 

Teiser: So you stayed here. 

Martini: So I figured I might as well stick with the winery. 

Teiser: Did your experience in '41 give you a better idea of what you would 
find when you returned here, then? 

Martini: I never thought about it that way, but probably yes, it gave me 
a little better idea. My main concern about coming back wasn't 
so much whether I liked the work or not, it was whether I and my dad 



32 



Martini: could get along, quite frankly. And I think that's a concern 
anybody that gets into a family organization should have. You 
know, I think that's very important. If we could find a way that 
we could both work in the same place and get along, why, it was 
fine. I didn't mind the work; I thought the winery work was 
okay, as far as I was concerned. 

The format that we found by which we could work together 
was that I kind of adopted the attitude that this was his winery; 
he was the general, 1 was part of the staff. I made my recommendation- 
if he accepted it, fine; if he didn't accept it, it was really his 
money, he had earned it, and if he wanted to waste it doing that, 
we'd go ahead and do it. I couldn't see any other way it would 
work. 

And I found out after a while that that worked pretty well, 
because if I really made recommendations whether it was to buy 
equipment or whether it was to make a blend or whatever it was 
that was diametrically opposed to what he wanted to do , he generally 
didn't do anything. Sometimes he would come around to my way of 
thinking later on, and sometimes he wouldn't. But in any event it 
stopped the action right there; he didn't do anything for a while. 
At least he didn't just go jumping ahead and doing it in spite of 
what I said. So I found out that that was the most effective way 
to do it. 

And I wouldn't argue with him. Of course he didn't like 
that; he used to like to argue. But I just wouldn't argue with 
him. I would say, "Well, this is what I recommend we do," and 
I'd tell him why, and then I'd leave, and let him think about it! 
[laughter] 

Teiser: That's infuriating. 

Martini: I know. [laughter] Then, if he wanted to do it the other way, 

that's up to him. Then he'd say, "Well, I want to do it this way." 
I'd say, "Okay, it's your money. It's going to cost more this way." 
Or, "It's going to take longer," or something. "But it's your money, 
you go ahead and do it the way you want . " 

That way it worked out all right; we got by. And I found out, 
as years went on, he'd take more and more recommendations, or he'd 
just let me go ahead and do something without bothering to get his 
okay. And I also found out that in a lot of things it really 
didn't matter; if he wanted to do something a certain way, you know, 



33 



Martini: let him do it. Even though I wouldn't have done it that way, 

it didn't make any difference to me which way it was done, just 
so the final results ended up the same. But that way we managed 
to hit a formula that worked. 



Martini Sherries//// 

[Interview 2: January 4, 1984] 



Teiser: Your father said that when he left Kingsburg he brought his sherry, 
or some of his sherry here. 

Martini: We brought some of the sweet wines up here, yes. That's right. 
He had set aside both cream and dry sherries that he brought up 
here, and part of that is the start of our current solera system 
that we are still using, actually. 

Teiser: And since you yourself had been interested in sherry, why, that 
worked out well? 

Martini: Yes, I was interested in it at that time, and we've always had a 
continued interest in sherry production, even though the public 
hasn't had a very great interest in sherry purchasing. 

Teiser: It goes in and out of fashion, doesn't it? 

Martini: Apparently. I'd like to see it go back in now for a change; it's 
been out for quite a while. 

Teiser: I have read that your father bought the Rennie Winery for his 
sherry house. 

Martini: That must have been on the ranch, near his home. It used to be the 
Rennie Winery; it wasn't a winery any more. All it was was four 
walls and a roof, and we just used that to store sherry in because 
we were working with some flor yeast and we didn't want to 
contaminate the winery down here, so we used that up there to 
store the sherry. It's the winery now that has been sold to the 
Komeses and converted over to Flora Springs; it's now known as 
Flora Springs Wine Company. 

Teiser: And where do you keep your sherry now? 



34 



Martini: Well, now we keep it here, but we have better bottling techniques 
and so on, so we're not as fearful of the film yeast now as we 
were then. 

Teiser: It never occurred to me you could get film yeast from sherry into 
other wines. 

Martini: Well, it could give you some trouble, but if you use good bottling 
techniques and good cellar practices it really shouldn't. 

Teiser: But you still make a flor sherry? 

Martini: We still make a sherry, but we make it more by blending. The 
last twenty years or so, we've been buying young our sherry 
material that has been already subject to the flor process, and 
then aging it and blending it ourselves, and introducing it into 
our solera. 

Teiser: Who makes flor sherry now? 

Martini: We've been getting it from Sierra Wine Company in Tulare. 

Teiser: They're not using the submerged process? 

Martini: Yes, they're using the submerged process. 

Teiser: Which is not the conventional process. 

Martini: That's right. 

Teiser: Is it just as good? 

Martini: Well, it doesn't work out, I don't think, quite as well as the 

Spanish are able to get by the conventional system, but it works 
out better than we're able to get by the conventional system. The 
conventional system had too many headaches in with it; too much 
chance for spoilage and too many other problems connected with 
it. 

Teiser: Was that just because of exposure to oxygen or the air? 

Martini: Yes, primarily. You could get other organisms that would come in 
and set up housekeeping, you could get excessive oxidation. 
Sometimes you got beautiful film growth and no flavor at all , 
and you can't figure out why. So the submerged-culture process 
doesn't get quite the same results, but lends itself better to 
our type of operation. 



35 



Teiser: Is anyone trying to make flor sherry at present? 

Martini: I don't think so, any more. Almaden may still have some. I 
don't know whether they still have some or not, but they'd be 
about the only ones I know of. 

Teiser: You have continued making both dry and sweet sherries? 
Martini: Yes. But very small quantities. 
Teiser: Maybe it'll be back in popularity. 

Martini: Well, I hope so. As a matter of fact we've got enough sherry on 
hand right now that if we didn't buy another drop for ten years, 
at the current rate of sales we'd have enough to last us for ten 
years. 

Teiser: Your solera goes back to Kingsburg, then? 

Martini: Oh yes, yes. 

Teiser: So it's how many years old? 

Martini: Well, the sweet one was actually started in '47; that was started 
here. The dry one was started in '36, I think, in Kingsburg, and 
then brought up here. 

Teiser: I don't suppose anyone else has that old a one. 

Martini: Well, the dilution factor between then and now is considerable. 

[laughter] There may be a few molecules left of the old stuff in 
it. 



Vineyard Acquisitions 



Teiser: Your father had bought the Monte Rosso vineyard in Sonoma County 
in the 1930s? 

Martini: In '42, I think it was, he bought what was known as the Stanly 

Ranch in Napa County, on Stanly Lane in the Carneros district. It 
is our La Loma vineyard . 



36 



Martini: Then in the late fifties and early sixties we decided to expand 
the vineyards. Up till then we had the two vineyards, and a 
little bit of home vineyard here at the winery. Then in the late 
fifties we decided we needed more grape land, and we started 
looking around. In 1962 we picked the Healdsburg ranch, Los Vinedos 
del Rio, in northern Sonoma County on the Russian River. 

It was also at that time that we decided there wasn't any 
point in the winery owning it because it would just add to the 
estate of my folks, which was already big enough, so we formed 
another corporation in which my wife and I were the principal 
stockholders; we formed Edge Hill Farms at that time. I think 
Edge Hill Farms was formed in 1962, and actually for the purpose 
of buying the Healdsburg ranch; that's the one that we got first. 

And then we weren't really in the market for any more land, 
but this one down in Las Amigas in the Carneros came up for sale, 
and the real estate agent came around and asked us if we were 
interested, and we said, "No, we've just bought 200 acres, and we 
really don't want any more right now." And he said, "Well, make 
an offer on it." We knew BV [Beaulieu Vineyards] already had 
bought the place next door. We knew what they had paid for it, so 
we made an offer of about half that much, figuring we'd never get 
it, and the son of a gun comes back in three days and says, "All 
right, you've got it." [laughing] So we ended up with it. At that 
time, 1962, it was a sixty-acre parcel. Since then we've added 
eighty acres to it, so now it's a 140-acre ranch. But we really 
didn't want it, because we really felt that we had more than we 
could chew already without adding something else. 

Then also, just a little bit later, in 1964, Glen Oak ranch 
in Chiles Valley [Napa County] became available. I saw that quite 
by accident. The realtor, who is a friend of ours up here in 
St. Helena, asked me to go out and take a look at it and see what 
I thought of it as vineyard land. So I went out and took a look 
at it and decided that it looked very good as vineyard land. I 
asked him what he wanted for it, and the price seemed reasonable, 
so we bought that one. So we really got more than we wanted in 
land at the time, and we couldn't possibly get it all planted. 

Teiser: But you must be glad now. 

Martini: Yes, now I'm glad we have it, sure. That's right. But at that 
time we were not only wondering how we were going to get it all 
planted, but how we were going to get it all paid for. [laughing] 
But it worked out all right.* 



*For discussion of the more recently purchased Lake County ranch, 
see pages 70-72. 



37 



Teiser : 



Martini: 



Teiser: 



Martini: 



Having bought land at pre-inflated prices must make it easier for 
you to hold down your product prices. 



Well, it helps to keep prices of wines down all right, 
certainly does. 



It 



It's curious because I suppose it makes some people think that 
since your wines are prices lower than others of what many 
consider similar quality, they're not really as good. 

Yes, well, I've gotten that argument a lot from people, even from 
store owners that say, "Well, why don't you price them up higher?" 
and so on. And certainly from a lot of other winery people. But 
my feeling has always been, "We don't need to do that. Why charge 
the consumer more than he should be paying for it?" We'd just 
turn around and give it to the government later anyway! 



Wines of the 1940s 



Teiser: I think your father in his interview told about Frank Schoonmaker 
coming in 1940 and looking at his wines and suggesting varietal 
labels, as we mentioned. Did Schoonmaker then play a part in 
your marketing from then on? 

Martini: Yes. Schoonmaker had a marketing company back there, and he was 
actually our first distributor that sold our wines back east. 

While Schoonmaker was a great wine man, he apparently was 
not a great businessman, and his marketing company wasn't doing 
all that well. Then he went off to the war; during the war he 
was in OSS [Office of Strategic Services] overseas. It was during 
that time then that the company kind of flubbed around, and "21" 
Brands moved in and bought out the company and the wines that they 
were distributing. 

Teiser: Bought out the Schoonmaker company? 
Martini: Right, correct.* 

Teiser: Did he himself have an effect upon your wines, your merchandising, 
your policies? 



*See also page 78. 



38 



Martini: It's hard to say. I don't know really. When he was active in the 
industry at that time, I wasn't around; I was either in college' 
or in the service, but mostly in the service, and I really don't 
know if he had any effect. I think he might have in some respect 
in putting out varietal wines, and he might also have in talking 
my dad into going national with the wines, even though we didn't 
have a lot at the time , because he was going to distribute them 
back east. Other than that, I don't think he had an awful lot of 
effect on it. 

Teiser: The Martini wines became so quickly respected, prestigious. 

Martini: Well, first of all I think my dad made good, sound wines; they 
were clean wines. They may not always have been the greatest 
varietal characteristics, but they were always clean wines, and 
people didn't know varietal characteristics anyhow in those days. 
But there was an awful lot of unclean wines on the market , and by 
contrast I think they looked pretty good. 

The other thing was that we got helped tremendously by the 
war, because all the European wines were knocked out, and so we 
got a start and a foothold in a lot of markets simply because 
there were no other wines available. 

Teiser: The other wines of prestige, I guess, were Beaulieu 

Martini: Inglenook, Wente. Krug was just getting started; during the war 
I don't think they were much of a factor. In fact they weren't 
a factor at all because I don't think they started the Krug label 
until after that, after the war. 

Teiser: Beringer had a small part of it, I suppose. 

Martini: Beringer, yes, they were in it. Of course Almaden. Paul Masson. 
Christian Brothers were in there; although they were nearly all 
sweet wines then, they made very little dry wine. 

Teiser: Not all of those were of the same quality that you and Beaulieu 

Martini: Yes, but as far as the consumer is concerned I think they were. 
You know, in the east they were all in together, more or less. 
Among the people that knew wines, I think probably Beaulieu and us 
and Wente and some of these were at one level above it. 

Teiser: Yes. The others of course went up and down a bit too. 



39 



Martini: Yes, that's true. Well, depending upon how fast their volume 
grew; what the quality of their wines was at the time depended 
a lot upon that. 

Teiser: Those that you mentioned were wineries that had continuity too. 

I mean you and Beaulieu and Inglenook had continuity at that time. 

Martini: Well, that's right. Italian Swiss and some of these others were 
sold to distillers and then bought back and changed all over the 
place. So this isn't anything new, all these partnerships and 
changes within the industry now; it's always happened. 



Napa Valley Wine Men of the 1940s 



Teiser: When you came back, then, in 1945, those established wineries were 
going well. Did you know Mr. [Georges] de Latour? 

Martini: I knew him, but very scantly, not well, because he really wasn't 
that involved in the activities of the industry up here. 

Teiser: You knew Andre Tchelistchef f ? 

Martini: Oh yes, I knew Andre. 

Teiser: What was he like at that time? 

Martini: Oh, just as dynamic as now, only with a little more energy. 

[laughing] It seems hard to imagine, but he had. He was a very 
dynamic fellow. 

Teiser: Did he bring to this valley something it didn't have before? 

Martini: Yes, I think the one thing he brought to this valley was some 
scientific thinking that there hadn't been too much of before. 
Everybody had kind of been making wine by the seat of their pants 
until Andre arrived, and a few others that had had some training 
in enology before they got here. But he was primarily the mover 
for it. 

Like he was the one that moved the rest of us to start a Napa 
Valley Wine Technical Group. He had an independent laboratory 
uptown, and he was doing some experimental work, and some of us 
that didn't have the time to run analysis like after the harvest, 
where you've got lots of them to run all at once we'd send the 
analysis up there for him to run, things of that nature. 



40 



Martini: I would say that he was responsible more than any other one 

person for getting the winemakers in the valley into thinking in 
experimental terms and in scientific terms, simply by our 
conversations and get-togethers in this Wine Technical Group when 
it first started. 

Teiser: Well, that tied in with your own inclination too, didn't it? 

Martini: Yes, I had the inclination, but I didn't have the gumption that 
Andre had in getting out and organizing things. [laughter] 

Teiser: John Daniel, Jr., was active, wasn't he, when you came back? 
Martini: Yes. I knew him very well because I worked with him a lot. 
Teiser: Can you speak a little of him? We missed interviewing him. 

Martini: Well, he was an outstanding individual. Now he wasn't a 

scientifically-oriented person from a production point of view, but 
he was very businesslike and he was a great moderator of things 
and also a good mover, and he was a good, hard worker for the 
industry. I worked with him a lot in the Napa Valley Vintners as 
well as the Wine Institute, and he was very active in these outside 
industry activities. 

Teiser: Clearly, he was important. 

Martini: I think his importance in the industry was that he added stability 
to it , in the sense that if the industry started off on a tangent , 
he was always the one to try and make some sense out of it. 

Teiser: For instance. 

Martini: Oh, I can't really think of specific things. But I can recall him 
at Wine Institute meetings where somebody would start getting 
brainstorms and so on, and he would always moderate and say, "Well, 
let's think about it a little more, let's not rush into it, let's 
not do this." He himself was a kind of stabilizing influence 
because he was a bit of a fence-sitter. He wasn't radical one 
way or the other on any of these issues that used to come up. 
And he also was very good 

II 

Teiser: You were speaking of John Daniel, and you said he was also very 
good at public relations work. 



41 



Martini: Yes, he was very good at public relations work. He was very 

smooth, very articulate, he could say what he needed to say in 
the minimum number of words. And he was generally I think very 
well liked by the other members of the industry and very well 
respected. 

Teiser: Did he uphold quality standards? 

Martini: Oh, very much so, yes. He not only upheld quality standards, 
he improved them I think. He definitely set the standards I 
think in the valley for lots of wines, lots of varietal wines 
that were made. 

Teiser: By example? 

Martini: By example, yes. 

Teiser: What was he like personally? I met him only once. 

Martini: Very pleasant and very soft-spoken, never seemed to get excited, 
had a real good sense of humor, kind of a dry one but a good 
one. He was a very nice person. He was a real loss to the 
valley when he died.* I think he contributed a lot to the 
industry, both in the valley and to the whole California industry 
as well. 

Teiser: What's happened to his library? 

Martini: I think Betty [his wife] sold it. Not long after his death I 
think she sold it, but I don't know who bought it. 

Teiser: It must have been one of the great libraries of its kind. 
Martini: Apparently it was, yes. 

Teiser: There were a lot of people who were well known here; I think of 
names like Louis Stralla, who was a local man. 

Martini: Well, Stralla was I think a fairly important individual in the 

valley. He not only served as mayor and so on I'm sure this is 
all documented elsewhere but he was a mover; he got things going. 
He never really was a quality wine man; he was interested really 
in making bucks, and he made no beans about it. It didn't make 



*John Daniel, Jr. died July 13, 1970, aged 63. 



42 



Martini: any difference to him whether he made them selling lees or 

selling first-class wines or anything else. He was primarily 
interested in making money. But he was a very shrewd businessman 
and a very shrewd operator.* 

Teiser: Did he add to the economic stability of this area? 

Martini: Oh, I really couldn't say with regard to that; I don't know. He 
had so many transactions going at the time land, and interest 
up in the Russian River, and he had Stag's Leap for a while 
he had so many things going that I really don't have any idea of 
what his overall effect was in the valley. 

Teiser: What about the others? The Mondavis came into the picture in 
the early forties, about when you first came here. 

Martini: Well, Bob [Robert Mondavi] must have been here, I guess, in about 
1940 or '41. He was here then. They had the Sunny St. Helena 
Winery. The first time I met Bob, I recall, was after I graduated 
from college and was back here at the winery, and he had been here 
for a year or two before that. 

Teiser: He was too young to be an influence upon the industry then, I 
suppose. 

Martini: Well, he became one pretty quickly because, you know, he's pretty 
dynamic. I really didn't get to know him very well until after 
I got back from the service and had spent some time with the 
vintners and so on, and then got to know him better then. 



The Napa Valley Technical Group 

Teiser: Who were the others in the Napa Valley Technical Group that you 
spoke of? 

Martini: That we first started with? 
Teiser: Yes. 



*Louis E. Stralla died in 1942. 



43 



Martini: The ones I can think of were Andre and Pete [Peter] Mondavi. 

Of course that didn't start until '47, the technical group. So 
there was Andre and Pete Mondavi and Bob and Art [Arturo] Merla,* 
who worked for Mondavis at the time; he's died since then. And 
Bard Suverkrop , who was the chemist for Beaulieu at the time; he's 
a retired Air Force officer now. [laughing] And George Deuer, 
who was John Daniel's winemaker. Who the heck else was in there? 
Myself. [pauses] That's all I can think of right now. There 
must have been somebody else in there. 

Teiser: Nobody from Sebastiani? 

Martini: No, this was only Napa Valley. Nobody from Beringer's was in 

there at the time that I can remember. Beaulieu, there was Andre 
and Bard. And Inglenook, there was I can't remember whether 
there was anyone there from Christian Brothers or not, right at 
the start . 

Teiser: Had there been at that time secrecy about technical matters between 
wineries? 

Martini: No, I don't think so. In fact, I was amazed in '50, which was 

my first trip to New York to see the Finger Lakes district wineries, 
how much secrecy there was there among wineries that were within a 
stone's throw of each other, whereas out here the first thing we'd 
do is let somebody else know if we'd found a new piece of equipment 
or we discovered something else. As far as I know, there was 
very little secrecy. Among the technical people it wa"s pretty open. 

Teiser: I remember Andre Tchelistchef f saying that Georges de Latour didn't 
want anybody in his winery at all. 

Martini: Oh, I know; they were a little on the secrecy side, but I think 
that was, you know, that was the bosses. I think when you got 
down and the technical people in the plant got to talking to each 
other, that same secrecy didn't exist. There was very little 
secrecy. You wouldn't hesitate at all to call up somebody and say, 
"Hey, I'm having a problem here. You got any ideas?" And they'd 
tell you if they had any. You know, "Why don't you try this or try 
that or try something else?" Or, "Yes, we had that problem last 
year, and we seemed to clear it up by doing this." Among the 
technical people I thought it was very good. 



*Arturo Merla, who worked first at C. Mondavi & Sons and later as 
manager of the Beaulieu Vineyard winery, died March 21, 1960. 



44 



Martini: I was appalled how it was back east of course, they were much 
older wineries and had been operating for a long time because 
I'd go and visit one winery in the morning and go to another one 
in the afternoon, and the guys in the afternoon would quiz me 
on what kind of equipment the one in the morning had; the place 
was only down the road a little ways and all they'd have to do 
is go down and look. [laughter] 



Winery Innovations and Daily Routine, Latter 1940s 



Teiser: When you came back here then, in 1945, what did you do immediately? 

Martini: Well, the first thing I did, as far as I can remember, was that I 
got the lab set up, which wasn't much until then. 

Teiser: You said you started sort of doing it in '41. 

Martini: Yes, but my dad hadn't really used it very much. He'd used it only 
for blending, but he hadn't done any of the analysis. So I set 
the lab back up, and I set up a system of records that I could 
follow; he wasn't much of a record keeper either. [laughing] And 
those were the first two things that I did. Then I just slowly 
started, you know, taking over some of the winemaking responsibilities, 

Teiser: When you speak of "records," what do you mean? 

Martini: I mean cellar records. He had a lot of chicken scratches running 
around on pieces of paper. And I set up also a system where all 
of the movement orders that went out to the winery went as movement 
orders, not orally. He did everything orally. He never wrote 
anything down to speak of, and if he thought about it three days 
later, he'd say, "Oh yeah, I better keep a record of this," and he'd 
write it down. [laughter] And I was a little bit more concise 
than that. I wanted things written down and I wanted them in 
order, and also I wanted to make sure the guys out there understood 
what the movement orders in the winery were. And I tried to set 
up a system that could be checked easily, you know, and rechecked. 
So that was the first thing that I did. 

Then I just started doing the daily work. You know, I'd 
pick up the samples, run the analysis, make some of the blends 
I'd started making some of the blends and get together with my dad 



45 



Teiser: 
Martini: 
Teiser: 
Martini: 



Martini: On making others, and things of that nature. And we'd get out to 
the vineyards a little bit; of course we only had a couple of them 
at that time. And did whatever else had to be done, anything from 
driving a truck to whatever came up that no one else had time to 
do; we didn't have that many people around here. 

Did you have a winemaker? 

No. 

You were it? your father was and then you were? 

Yes. No, we've never had a winemaker that's actually responsible 
for making the blends and doing the winemaking who was outside 
the family. We've always kept it in the family. It's always been 
my dad or I, or Mike, who's doing it now. That may be bad, but 
nevertheless that's the way it is. [laughing] 

Teiser: Your wine has a family taste! 
Martini: Yes, 

Teiser: I assume your father was glad to see you back to share some of 

the responsibility because the business was growing, was it not? 

Martini: Yes, it was growing fairly well. I don't recall [the figures] in 
'45, when I came back. The first figures I can remember were in 
about '47, and we were selling around 25-30,000 cases a year then. 
A lot of it though was not varietals. A lot of it was standard 
burgundy and chablis, and Mountain Red and Mountain White, and that 
type of wine; maybe 60 percent was that. It was mostly Monte Rosso. 



"Mountain" Wines and Vineyard Locations 



Teiser: That word "mountain," were you the first to use it on your label? 

Martini: I think so, and the reason we used it was because we had the 

Monte Rosso vineyard over in Sonoma. We used to call the varieties 
from there Sonoma; we used to put out a Sonoma Zinfandel and a 
Sonoma Sylvaner and so on. And then BATF came along and said, 
"You can't do that because the winery is in Napa County, and even 
though the grapes are grown in Sonoma County , you have to have 
both the winery and the vineyard in the same county in order to use 



46 



Martini; 



Teiser: 
Martini; 

Teiser: 
Martini: 

Teiser: 



Martini: 



Teiser: 



Martini; 



an appellation of origin." So then we went to "mountain," and 
we did that for a couple of years, just straight "mountain"; we 
had Mountain Barbera, Mountain Zinfandel. And then they came 
along and they said, "You can't do that because Mountain doesn't 
mean anything as far as an appellation goes, you've got to put 
California on there." So then we went to California Mountain, 
and we used that label up until fairly recent years ten, twelve 
years ago when we eliminated the "mountain* because everybody 
else was coming out with their cheapest wines as mountain wines, 
and we decided that there wasn't any advantage in keeping mountain 
on there anymore. 



How in the world did that tenn migrate so? Most of the 
wines" came from the f latest of lands, didn't they? 



mountain 



Oh yes. I don't know how the name migrated, and why people 
thought it was such an attractive term. If they hadn't thought it 
was attractive, they wouldn't have put it on their labels. 

It calls up visions of vineyards growing up a hillside. 

Yes, it calls up visions of higher quality. But we decided there 
wasn't any point in using it any more because most of the cheap 
wines on the market were the mountain wines. 

That brings up the whole question of hillside and flatland vineyards. 
I guess everyone was told early on that grapes that grow on 
hillsides where they have to struggle make the best wine. (Am I 
oversimplifying that?) 

Well, I think that's probably true. I'm not so sure whether it's 
so much that it ' s because the grapes have to struggle as it is 
that you've got usually better drainage on hillsides and you 
generally have better exposure, especially if you're facing the 
south. But we find that it's true; the grapes that come off our 
mountain vineyards seem to have a different balance and they seem 
to have a little more elegance to them than the grapes that come 
off more fertile soils in the valley. 

But in the Napa Valley an awful lot of the land is pretty nearly 
flat. 



Well, that's true, but it's still Napa Valley. 
is supposed to be flat. [laughing] 



You know, a valley 




Louis M. Martini Winery 
Ca. 1983 

Photograph courtesy of Martini. Winery 




Monte Rosso Vineyard, Sonoma Valley 
1960s 

Photograph courtesy of Martini Winery 



47 



Teiser: 



Martini: 



Teiser: 
Martini: 



Teiser: 



Martini: 



Teiser: 
Martini: 



But a lot of the grapes that come off that flat land in the Napa 
Valley are very high quality. 

Oh sure, they make good wines. My feeling is that the texture 

and the elegance of the wine is a little different if you grow it 

in the mountains than if you grow it in the valley; that doesn't 

necessarily make it better, but it does make it different. It 

depends. If you want a big, intense Chardonnay, like a lot of 

the ones that are popular now, the big, oily kind of Chardonnay, 

they generally come from the valleys, from the richer lands. 

The ones from the mountains are usually much lighter and much 

more delicate. It's just a question of style, which style Chardonnay 

you want to make as to where you're going to get your grapes. 

The Carneros area is flat, isn't it? 



Reasonably flat, 
valley. 



It's got rolling hills. It's not flat like a 



I think the distinctions in the valleys and the mountains 
should be not whether the thing is rolling or steep, but whether 
the soil is a deposited soil from your river going through the 
valley and has a lot of richness in it, or whether it's a type of 
soil that's been eroded and does not have the richness in it. I 
think that's more important than whether it's sitting on a slope 
or not; that's not so important. Your deposited soils in the 
valley definitely make a heavier wine, unless you get on the 
gravelly parts like up against this [east] side of the valley where 
it's pretty gravelly. 

Some of the newer vineyards are really on steep hillsides, and 
their estate-bottled wines I suppose have a distinct flavor. 

Yes. They're different all right. We can generally pick up our 
Monte Rosso vineyards over other vineyards around the area very 
easily as a different wine, and we're starting to put them out 
under a separate lable too, as Monte Rosso. 

I think Donn Chappellet's is all hillside. 

That's right. He's very similar to our Monte Rosso vineyard in 
location, only except that he's facing Napa Valley and we're facing 
Sonoma Valley. They're both facing southwest. 



48 



Growth of the Winery 



Teiser: I suppose that your functions in this winery, from the moment you 
came back in '45 to the present, changed gradually. 

Martini: Everything phased into each other very easily, just like I'm 

phasing out now in a lot of it. I phased into it in exactly the 
same way. [laughing] 

Teiser: As you phased in, of course the winery grew. Was it your intention 
that it should? 

Martini: It just grew because we had the salespeople out there, and of 

course you're always pushing for more sales. For a long time we 
had wines on allocation actually, where we couldn't even supply 
them, but I think everybody had for a while. But yes, it was our 
intention to grow, at kind of an even rate. For a while it grew 
faster than we wanted it to grow, but now it's slowed back down 
again, so we're about where twenty years ago we felt we would be. 

Teiser: Did you make actual projections? 

Martini: Well, I tried that and they never worked. [laughing] The reason 
they don't work is because your salespeople don't sell across 
the board. They'll take one item and run with it. In other words, 
if they see an opening to sell Cabernet, or they've bought a lot 
of Cabernet, if it's particularly good or the vintage of it is 
particularly good or there starts to be a little bit of a demand, 
they'll push on that one item, and they won't sell across the board. 
That's the real difficulty in communicating with the salespeople. 
We could, say, stand an increase of 5 percent a year if they 
increased every item we make by 5 percent a year, but they don't; 
if you get an increase of 5 percent you may have to take it all 
up by one item, and then you can't stand it, you can't keep up with 
it. So anytime I made projections, they always fell short 
somewheres or the other; one thing sold more than I projected and 
everything else sold less than I projected. 



Changes in Public Taste and Wine Styles 



Teiser: You can't project public taste, of course. 

Martini: That's right. At one time we sold more Pinot noir than Cabernet, 
you know. Now Cabernet is 40 percent of our sales. 



49 



Teiser: 



Martini; 



Teiser: 
Martini: 



Teiser: 



Martini: 



Teiser: 



Martini: 



Teiser: 



Martini: 



Teiser: 



Well, of course, Pinot noir got into controversy, didn't it, about 
what it's supposed to be? 

Yes. And there was a lot of Pinot noir out on the market that 
was not all that outstanding. We are learning more about it, and 
I think it's going to come back. It will take a while, but I 
think it's going to come back. 

What style are you going to make it? 

Each winery is going to have to set their own style; they're doing 
that with every other wine anyway. Some are going to make it very 
heavy, and some are going to make it light and more elegant, but 
each winery will set their own style , and I think it will slowly 
come back. It isn't going to do like Cabernet did and shoot way 
up to the top, but I think it'll be in a better position in the 
future than it has been in the past. 

I've been surprised that your Folle blanche hasn't zoomed, or has 
it? 

No. The main reason, I think, that it doesn't zoom, or that we 
don't sell more of it, first is the fact that it's a white wine 
and we're not very strong on white wines. But in addition to that, 
we ' re the only ones making it , and whenever you ' re the only one 
making a product, not enough people know about it. 

I should think that Folle blanche would have caught the public's 
imagination. 

Well, maybe it would have had we had the means and the resources 
to make it attractive to them; in other words, advertise it, 
promote it, and so on. But you've really got to do that if you 
want to get anywheres. 

Dr. Richard Peterson recently described a wine as "reminiscent 
of the pre-1970s Cabernet sauvignons of the Napa Valley." (It 
was a Monterey Vineyard Cabernet from San Luis Obispo County.) 
What did he mean by that? 

He probably meant it was not quite as heavy and robust as many 
current Cabernets and was a bit more delicate and refined. 

You've continued more interest in red than white wines, have you 
not? 



50 



Martini: 

Teiser: 
Martini: 
Teiser: 
Martini: 



Teiser: 
Martini: 

Teiser: 
Martini: 

Teiser: 
Martini: 
Teiser: 
Martini: 



Yes, well, because we've had our sales more in red than white 
wines; they're also a lot more fun to make! [laughing] 

I see you have a Chenin blanc. I didn't realize it. 

Yes, we make a dry Chenin blanc. 

Have you tried to not make too large a range of wines? 

If we look at our past history, we've found that many of our 
increases have come along when we've added another wine, never 
when we've subtracted a wine. In other words, subtracing one 
wine from the list does not increase your sales in the others 
necessarily, for some reason. So we've found that as long as we 
can make a distinctive line of wines and keep up with it, our 
sales probably improve with more items rather than with less 
items . 



Many people who try to make one or two wines say: 
trouble is that sales people want a whole line." 



"Oh, the 



Yes. And you also never know when the public's taste is going 
to change, and if you're out there with the one wine that the 
public's taste suddenly changes against it, you've got a problem. 

Is Chardonnay continuing to increase in popularity? 

It's still increasing, yes. The supply of it has gotten so much 
better than it was that it's not so difficult to get grapes any 
more, but the demand for it is still increasing. 

I thought that the combination of its price and some other 
competitive white wines might work against it. 



Well, at our price level, ours is still increasing, 
price levels that may not be true. 



Now some 



That's a wine, however, that you've been interested in for a long, 
long time, isn't it? 

Well, we've made it for a long, long time, yes. We've really 
only recently though started getting some good vineyards and good 
grapes. It wasn't until we got the Healdsburg vineyard [Los Vinedos 
del Rio] that came into bearing that we really had any good grapes 
of Chardonnay. 



51 



Adding Winery Facilities and Equipment Since the 1940s 



Teiser: 
Martini: 

Teiser: 
Martini: 



Teiser: 

Martini: 
Teiser: 
Martini: 
Teiser: 

Martini: 



Teiser: 
Martini: 



The winery here has grown physically since 1945, has it not? 

Yes. 
II 

I was asking you about the expansion of the winery and if you 
could trace its growth. 

When we first started, the main building was all we had, and up 
until about '55 that was it. Everything was done in there: 
bottling, fermenting, everything. In 1955 we expanded to provide 
a new fermenting room, out in back. Then, about ten years later, 
we expanded our facilities off on the side here for storage of 
additional case goods, just a case goods warehouse. That was 
about '65. Then, in 1970, we built a new office and lab and 
tasting room. Then, in 1975, we started in on another warehouse 
for tanks and case goods, and that's where we are now. 

I can remember the first time I came to this winery many years ago- 
the tasting was in the winery. 

Yes, we just stuck a table in a corner of the winery. 

Yes, and your father was out there hauling cases around. 

Yes. 

It was just delightful. [laughter] 

You have added and refined equipment, have you not? 

Oh, quite a bit. All our fermenting room now is stainless steel, 
with the exception of a few of the old concrete fermentors that 
we put in in '55 that are still there. But all the wood is gone 
from the fermenting room. We had wood fermentors originally. 
We just had tanks that we took the tops off of and used for the 
fermentors . 



Redwood? 

Redwood, yes. And we've eliminated all those, 
those at all anymore. 



We don't use 



52 



Teiser: What was so bad about redwood ferment ors anyway? 

Martini: Well, they're too hard to keep during the off-season, was the 

main thing. First of all, they dry up on you and you've got to 
resoak them. Besides that, it's awfully hard to keep the insides 
of them sweet and keep them from going bad. During the off-season, 
that's one of the worst problems. But they're hard to clean even 
during the season. Compared to a well-painted concrete fermentor 
or stainless steel, they're very hard to clean. And the other 
problem too is that you can only go one way in them, whereas in 
the stainless steel tank you can use it for either red or white. 
And you can jacket it. All our stainless steel fermentors are 
jacketed now. There 're just so many advantages to it that it 
isn't even funny. It makes life much easier. 

Teiser: The concrete 

Martini: Concrete works fine too except that generally on a concrete 

fermenter you have to refrigerate when you pump over in order to 
cool your wine, whereas on the stainless fermentor you just have 
a cooling jacket, and we turn on a thermostat and that takes care 
of it. 

Teiser: Was there any refrigeration here in this winery originally, in 
the 1940s? 

Martini: We built the cold room in 1941. No, wait a minute, we built it 
before that. Oh yes, that was already built in 1941. We build 
the cold room shortly after my dad built the regular winery, the 
main building. 

Teiser: And what did you use that for then? 

Martini: We used it for detartrating, and we used it for fermenting white 
wines in. 

Teiser: That was advanced for that time, was it not? 

Martini: Well, refrigeration for detartrating was generally used. Not 

very many people fermented white wines that cold though, at that 
time. I think that's one thing that my dad kind of was a pioneer 
in, was using very cool temperatures for fermentation. And we 
always had a lot of refrigeration, even for red wine fermentation; 
we used either tower water, or when the tower water wasn't enough 
we used to buy ice, five tons at a time, and dump it in there, in 
the cooling water. 



53 



Teiser : 

Martini: 

Teiser: 

Martini: 



So cold fermentation was not invented yesterday. [laughing] 



Teiser: 
Martini: 



Teiser: 
Martini: 



Teiser: 
Martini: 



Teiser: 



No, no, not really. 



What else then? 
haven't they? 



I suppose filters have changed tremendously, 



Not tremendously. We're still using diatomaceous earth filters 
and pad filters. We use Millipore now for white wines, which 
were not used in those days. But other than that, the filtration 
part is not too different. Well, and we don't use asbestos at 
all; for twenty years we haven't used asbestos. But asbestos used 
to be one of the principal filtering media, and it's still the 
best. And I still don't think there's any danger in it, but you 
don't dare use it because you don't know when [the] Food and Drug 
[Administration] or somebody is apt to ban it and quarantine all 
the wines that have been filtered with it. 

It was asbestos fragments, was it, that they thought 

Yes, but nobody has ever shown that ingested asbestos fragments 
have done anybody any harm; it's all been because of the breathing 
of them through the lungs. And they've also been able to show that 
asbestos fragments break up so small that they can hardly be 
filtered out. 

Not through Millipore? 

Not even through Millipore can it be filtered out, although if 
you get down to .45 you can certainly get 99.99999 percent of them, 
but there's always one that's going to get through endwise 
somewheres. 

In the 1940s were they still using rewashable filter pads? 

We used rewashable asbestos pulp when I first came back from the 
service. Now that's one that I think probably did contribute some 
bits of asbestos particles. But it was not a satisfactory system 
at that time, not because of the particles, but because it was 
very unsanitary to keep rewashing the same stuff. And you took 
a chance: if you ran one contaminated wine through you had a 
good chance of contaminating something else later on. 

I understand that you yourself have improvised or adapted some 
equipment. 



54 



Martini: Well, everybody adapts some equipment. We're kind of stingy about 
buying new stuff that we can adapt from something else, and so we 
make use with a lot of used equipment and things of this nature, 
but I don't think we've done anything very dramatic. 

Teiser: What have you done? 

Martini: Well, for instance, a few years ago we needed more refrigeration 

back in the fermenting room, and the price of a nice, new contained 
unit brought in looked too high to me, so we went down and found 
some old tomato cookers and converted them over to heat exchangers , 
and did buy a new compressor though, one with all the moving 
parts. But we put together a sixty-ton refrigeration unit for 
about half the price that you could go out and buy one by doing 
that. And it's kind of fun doing it. That's part of the fun of 
running a winery, anyway, doing some of these improvisions. 



Aging Wines 



Teiser: What about containers for storage, have they changed? 

Martini: Well, we haven't bought any redwood recently; we've gone primarily 
to oak, some barrels and some tanks, but we do feel that oak is 
a better aging medium, especially for red wines. 

Teiser: Have you changed your techniques and practices at all for aging 
wine? 

Martini: Really not too much, other than we're aging more wines in oak 

than we used to. The only other technique is that for some wines 
we are using and we're still experimenting with this barrels 
for a limited amount of the wine and then blending back into wines 
that were aged in larger oak cooperage to try and get some hint of 
wood in it but to try and control the wood character more than if 
you put everything in barrels. 

Teiser: A man from Italy I know said, "Your wine tastes as if it were made 
by carpenters." [laughing] 

Martini: Yes, there are some wines that are that way. 

Teiser: Italians visiting here used to say they tasted redwood, that 
redwood ruined the taste of California wine. 



55 



Martini: I think brand-new redwood probably would, but once it's aged it 

doesn't have any effect on it; I can't taste any redwood in wines. 
And usually the redwood tanks are so big that your surface-to- 
volume ratio is small compared to the contact with wood. Now if 
you made small barrels out of redwood, then you probably would have 
some problems. 

Teiser: This winery tends to age wines longer than most, does it not? 

Martini: I think we usually are about a year behind everybody else, yes. 

[laughter] On the market. I notice that, that everybody will be 
having the '79s out, and we're still working on '78, things of 
that nature. 

Teiser: Do you pay any special attention to bottle aging? 

Martini: Yes, we try and give all our red wines at least six months before 
we ship them out , and some of them get more than that . The ones 
of the larger quantities, like Cabernet, get six months. Some, 
like Barbera, which is a smaller quantity, we'll probably bottle 
up the whole lot at once, and that's a year's supply; so some of 
it will be six months and some of it will be longer. We won't 
try and put it out before it's at least six months in bottles, and 
we have enough storage for that. 

Right now our case goods in storage almost equals our yearly 
sales, when our case goods are at their peak, which is usually 
the end of July inventory. Now in December they're down because 
of heavy draw during the holiday season, but we usually come in the 
vicinity of 250,000 cases of wine in bottles in storage. 



Laboratory Work 



Teiser: I suppose your lab has been refined over the years? 

Martini: Yes, we're doing a lot more lab work. Mike has hired a girl now 
that does quality control, and she takes bottles off the line 
periodically; we never did that before. We never had time really, 
because I didn't have time to do it and we didn't have anyone else 
to do it. But that's her primary job. Another fellow there 
that's Mike's assistant helps with translating a lot of our orders 
back to the cellar and keeps the cellar records. 



56 



Teiser: Do you do any purely experimental work for the future? 

Martini: Mike does a little bit on fermentation techniques, managing the 
cap and things of this nature, and he's got some wines that he 
treats differently and then pulls out a small amount and sees 
how they develop. But that's about all we've been doing on that. 

Teiser: Have you relied over the years a good deal upon the university 
for experimentation? 

Martini: Yes, usually they're far better equipped for doing experimentations 
than we are. If we did experimentations of any very technical 
nature, we really don't have the equipment to run the analysis 
of all these various things that they're now talking about. You 
know, you've got to have a spectrophotometer , and you've got to 
have a, what do you call it, a gas-liquid chromatography setup, 
and that's very expensive equipment for a small lab to have. Our 
lab is simply set up strictly for a quality-control lab for the 
winery. 

Teiser: Have there been innovations that have come to you from the 
university, notable ones? 

Martini: Yes. Right offhand it's hard to think of what they might be, but 
in the vineyard area there 've certainly been a lot of them, all 
the way from clonal selections to new crosses. And then in the 
winery area there have been too, but right now I can't think of 
what they are. 

Teiser: I'm sure you were using controlled yeast fermentations from the 
beginning. 

Martini: Oh yes, sure. 



Malolactic Fermentation 



Teiser: How about malolactic fermentation? 

Martini: We have such an infestation of malolactic bacteria in the winery 
that we just don't need to do anything about it, and it happens 
to be a good strain, so it just does the job. We check for it to 
make sure the job is done, but we've almost never found one that 
has not gone through by spring anyway. 



57 



Teiser: So what control you have over it is just done with temperature, 
is that right? 

Martini: Yes, temperature and S0~, and we try not to build the S0_up too high 
so that it goes ahead and finishes. And then we do check, we 
monitor the tanks regularly to see what stage they're at. 

Teiser: Do you go directly from first fermentation into the malolactic, 
then? 



Martini: 



Teiser: 
Martini: 

Teiser: 
Martini: 



Teiser: 
Martini; 



Sometimes it goes with the last stages of alcoholic fermentation, 
sometimes it doesn't go till the following spring, sometimes it 
goes directly, like you say. We don't really care how it goes, we 
just monitor it to make sure we know what stage it's at, that's all. 
It doesn't make much difference to us whether it goes initially 
or whether it goes a little later. We want it to go, however, on 
red wines; we don't want to leave anything behind that hasn't 
undergone malolactic. 

How about white wines? 

Whites we try not to encourage it. Once in a while we get one 
that does take off on it, but most of the times they do not undergo 
malo-lactic. We keep the 



SO- up on them. 



You're fortunate then? 



Well, you know, if you're starting a brand-new winery, you're 
starting with everything new new tanks, new barrels, and 
everything you've got to do something about it because you simply 
don't have the organism around in large enough numbers to get 
anything started. But when you've got a winery that's been in a 
place for fifty years, and you're using the same cooperage, there's 
just no way you can really control it and clean up that cooperage 
so that you don't have anything in it. So if you've got the right 
strain, you're lucky. If you've got a bad strain, you're unlucky. 
And that's about the way it works. 

You'd have to change your cooperage? 

Well, if you have a bad strain in the cooperage then I think 
you would inoculate to try and get the fermentation over with as 
quickly as possible before it gets a chance to grow spontaneously. 
But as long as we've got a good strain and the malolactic seems 
to come out all right, we just let nature take its course. 



58 



Changes in Bottling//// 
[Interview 3: January 11, 1984] 



Teiser: 



Martini: 



Teiser: 
Martini: 



Teiser: 
Martini: 



I noticed in a 1952 article, a description of what seemed to be 
essentially hand-bottling and hand-labeling in this winery. Was 
it really? 

Well, not completely , but compared to what we have now it 
certainly was by hand. Until 1958, we used what is called a 
siphon filler. I don't know if you've seen one, but it's just a 
tank with a bunch of siphons on it and you hand-place the bottles 
on it; you end up looking like you're milking a cow. You place 
the bottles on it and take them off by hand. We used a hand 
corker; you put the cork in by hand and push down on a handle. 

So you corked one at a time? 

One at a time, that's right. We then would take the bottles and 
set them on little wagons little rolling tables is what they 
really were and moved them over to a bottling line where a girl 
would pick up the bottle, clean it off if it had any spilt wine 
or anything on it, because hand fillers were not like the 
automatic one; there was so suction unit on it and they spilt 
wine occasionally if it foamed over. 

We would then hand-clean it, hand-wipe it, let's say. It 
would be shoved down the table to the next person who would set it 
on a little stand and put one label on. It would be shoved down 
to the next person who'd set it on a stand and put the back 
label on. And sometimes there was a third person if we happened 
to have a neck label, which we did until the late forties. We' 
had a little button [button-sized label] that put the vintage on. 
And then it would go to the end of the line where it was wrapped 
in tissue paper and cased. 

Was there a capsule? 

Let me think now a minute. Where did we put the capsules on it? 
The capsules were put on on the rolling tables, and then each 
bottle was taken off the rolling table and put through the 
squeezing machine for the capsule, by hand, one at a time, and 
then set on the table, and then it went on to be labelled. 



Teiser: Heavens! Then you went to automatic bottling. 



59 



Martini: Yes, we got that in '58, and we were able to cut the bottling 
crew from about fourteen to five. 

Teiser: Have you had to replace the bottling equipment you got then? 
Martini: No, we're still using the same line. It's still working fine. 
Teiser: You don't have a sterile bottling room, do you? 

Martini: No. We have the bottling room right in the middle of the winery. 
We've never moved it. We have plans for building one in a new 
warehouse when we get around to putting the warehouse up, but 
that's a few years away yet. 

Teiser: What's the advantage, actually, of a sterile bottling room? 

Martini: Well, the advantage is that you can put up wines that have 
residual sugars, whereas we can't. 

Teiser: Like Moscato Amabile? 

Martini: Well, Moscato Amabile is okay because we keep it refrigerated, but 
more like 1% or 1 percent white wines, or 1% or 2 percent white 
wines, which are very popular actually. 

Teiser: Do you make them? 

Martini: No, we don't make them. We don't make them because we haven't 
the facilities for bottling them, so there's no point in making 
them. 

Teiser: You were a little primitive, little late, weren't you? I mean 
didn't you go on being primitive a little longer than some? 
[laughter] 

Martini: Well, we've always been primitive. On stuff like that, we seldom 
lead the pack. 



Grape Varieties and Varietal Wines 



Teiser: Now as to changes in the vineyards. Do you want to start with 

varieties? I have a list of grapes you grew in 1952. September, 
1952. [reads] Cabernet Suavignon, Pinot noir, Pinot Chardonnay, 
Johannisberg Riesling, Pinot blanc, Gewurztraminer , Folle blanche, 
Zinf andel , Sylvaner, and Camay. I think all in your own vineyards, 



60 



Martini: 



Teiser: 
Martini: 

Teiser: 
Martini: 

Teiser: 
Martini: 



Teiser: 

Martini: 

Teiser: 

Martini: 



Okay. We still have all those varieties with the exception of 
the Pinot blanc; we don't have any Pinot blanc. But we still 
have all those varieties, although we're not putting all of 
them out as varietals anymore. 



I don't know that you were then. 



Teiser: 



Martini: 



Well, the only one that is really not there anymore is Sylvaner. 
We still have the grapes, but we don't put out a Sylvaner anymore. 

That's too bad. I like Sylvaner. 

I agree with you, but the public didn't apparently, or at least 
didn't like the name, and so they didn't buy it. 

But I suppose that the proportions of the plantings that you had 
then have shifted somewhat. 

Oh, considerably, yes. Let's see, in '52 we had very little 
Pinot noir; now we've got oodles of Pinot noir. Actually, in '52, 
we didn't have too much Cabernet either. But then of course our 
sales have shifted considerably since then. The big change has 
probably been that I think in '52 Pinot noir was our most popular 
red wine. We sold more of that than we did any other varietal, 
and today we're selling far more Cabernet than any other varietal. 

You make Pinot noir in the traditional burgundy style still? 
Well, I'm not sure what that is. [laughing] 

Oh, that's right, the old burgundy style, not the new burgundy 
style. [laughing] The heavy style. 

Well, we make it as heavy as we can make Pinot noir; it's never 
going to turn out as heavy as some of the other varieties, but 
we do try to make it medium- to heavy-bodied. We really don't 
make any wines with these exceptionally heavy, inky characters; 
we try and keep away from that. 

Did your Pinot noir increase mainly as a result of plantings in 
the Carneros? 

Yes, in fact that's where we've got all of it now, with the 
exception of a small block up in Healdsburg. But everything else 
is in Carneros. 



61 



Teiser: I think Andre Tchelistcheff said he and your father who really 
had faith in Carneros for Pinot noir. 

Martini: I think that's right, yes. 

Teiser: Was it planted very little when your father and Beaulieu went 
in there? 

Martini: Oh yes. As a matter of fact, back in the late forties, right 

after the war, there was very little true Pinot noir around the 
country. At that time a lot of the Pinot noir, including ours, 
was made with a very high percentage of what we now call Pinot 
Saint-George because some of the people thought it was Pinot noir 
and they sold it as Pinot noir. In fact, I would say, back in 
'45 and '46, almost any Pinot noir on the market, with the possible 
exception of a few people like maybe Martin Ray or someone like 
that that had very small quantities, was probably Pinot Saint-George. 
Inglenook had some Pinot noir that I recall, and I think BV [Beaulieu 
Vineyard] had some Pinot noir. We had very little, and we depended 
mostly on Pinot Saint-George, and I think most of the other 
wineries did too. 

Teiser: Now almost no one makes Pinot Saint -George. 

Martini: That's right. Well, we still have some grapes, but we use 
it for burgundy. 

Teiser: I think Christian Brothers makes a varietal wine from it. 

Martini: Right, yes. And Inglenook used to. I don't know if they 

still do or not. Inglenook used to call it Red Pinot at one time, 
and they did make it, but I'm not sure whether they've abandoned 
it or not. 

Teiser: How did you get the true Pinot noir, then, to plant in the 
Carneros area? 

Martini: Well, we finally discovered the differences between the two, and 
we started looking for some Pinot noir, and there were blocks of 
good Pinot noir around. Inglenook had some blocks, which were 
mixed, and we had to go in and do some selection work and get out 
budwood of stuff that was the true Pinot noir. But with the help 
of the university and Dr. [Harold P.] Olmo in particular, we did 
pick out these better clones of Pinot noir and slowly started 
building them up, and that's where our grapes came from that we 
have now. 



62 



Teiser: It's interesting to me that while various wineries are relatively 
competitive I'm sure that you feel yourself a little competitive 
with Inglenook now you all trade vines and probably trade wines 
from time to time and so on. 

Martini: Oh well, we sell wines to each other all the time in bulk; if we 
have surplus wine we put it out available in bulk. That's the 
long-established practice in the industry, and I suppose that's 
true in almost any industry that they'll do that. 

Teiser: And you also use each other's vines. 

Martini: We get budwood and things like this from each other all the time. 
I think the general feeling in the industry had been that that ' s 
good for the industry in general is good for me. So if we can 
improve the whole industry whether it's by helping somebody 
introduce a better clone of a grape or get a new grape variety 
or even share technology and stuff like that if it enhances the 
whole industry, it's going to help you out sooner or later. And 
after all, you know, with the exchange idea you receive as much 
as you get; it doesn't all come from one place. 

Teiser: I wanted to ask about another variety here. I just had a bottle 
last night of Joseph Heitz's Grignolino. Was it used much in 
blending just after Repeal? 

Martini: I doubt it because there wasn't very much around. Joe's got a 
little block of it here, and there may -be a little bit at the 
growers' level, but I don't think there was very much around then. 
I think most of the wines after Repeal were made from Zinfandel, 
quite frankly, that were any good at all to drink. Zinfandel, 
Petite Sirah, Carignane: those were the three varieties that 
were in most abundance. 

Teiser: They made so-called burgundy? 
Martini: Yes, just made a red wine. 

Teiser: I suppose other varieties have been moved around in your vineyard, 
the way Pinot noir was? 

Martini: That's right. We are now getting to the point of where on the 

ranches that we have had for twenty years or more we are limiting 
new plantings and replacements to two to three or at the most four 
varieties. Most of Napa [the Carneros area vineyards] is Pinot noir 



63 



Martini: and Chardonnay, and all new plantings are going to be Pinot noir 
and Chardonnay, and maybe, if it becomes popular enough, some 
Perlot in one block. 

But we used to have Zinfandel down there at La Loma, we used 
to have Mondeuse, we used to have Tannat; we've gotten rid of all 
those. We have a small block of Pinot Saint -George left, and 
that's going to be the next one to go. And the Cabernet doesn't 
do well enough often enough to merit keeping it on that ranch. 
Now the other ranch, the Las Amigas Ranch that we have, which is 
down on Las Amigas Road, is closer to the bay and is a little more 
moderate and it ripens about a week earlier than the Stanly Lane 
Ranch [La Loma]. So that Las Amigas might do at least for Merlot, 
and maybe even some Cabernet . But right now it ' s all in three 
varieties: it's Pinot noir; what we call Camay Beaujolais, which 
is a clone of Pinot noir; and Chardonnay. 

And then the Napa ranch, which we call La Loma Ranch, also 
in the Carneros, that one we're limiting pretty much to Chardonnay 
and Pinot noir. There 're some experimental blocks of Riesling, 
Traminer in there. The Traminer, we might expand that someday if 
we ever need any more Traminer, but the Riesling I don't think I'd 
plant it down there again because it sinply doesn't ripen well 
enough. And we've gotten rid of all of the lesser varieties, with 
the exception of Saint-George. 

Teiser: Did you plant Merlot earlier? 

Martini: The first Merlot we planted was in about 1964, after we had acquired 
the land up at Healdsburg. We originally planted it with the idea 
to see if we could make a Cabernet blend that was a little more 
complex and maybe matured a little sooner than our regular 
Cabernet, straight Cabernet, did. And then after we got it, we 
decided that it made a nice and distinctive enough wine that we 
ought to put it up separate, in addition to blending it. We 
still use it for blending with Cabernet, but we also sell it 
straight. 

Teiser: It's become popular. 

Martini: Yes, it's becoming more popular all the time. 

Teiser: How long have you been producing Merlot as a varietal? 

Martini: The first one we put out was in 1971. That was a blend of '68 
and '70 wines. And then in '72 we put out a straight 1969. In 
'68 we didn't have enough to do more than make a 500-gallon cask, 



64 



Martini: 



Teiser: 
Martini: 



Teiser: 
Martini! 



Teiser: 
Martini: 



and in '70 we had such a bad crop that again we only had enough 
to make a 500-gallon cask, so we blended the two together and 
made one wine out of it. And that was the first one. I think 
that was the first Merlot on the market. I think it was followed 
shortly by Sterling; they came in a few months afterwards. But 
I think we actually beat them on getting it on the market, 
although we weren't even aware they were making one at the time. 



Barbera is one of your specialities, isn't it? 

Yes. There aren't too many wineries I don't think making Barbera. 
In the coast counties there aren't too many grapes of Barbera 
available. From the San Joaquin Valley there are more grapes 
available, and we use some coast grapes we have planted up in 
Sonoma, and we do a little blending with San Joaquin Valley 
grapes because the coast Barbera is almost too acid; it's very 
high in acid and it tends to be tannic without being heavy. So it 
needs a lot of blending. We've always blended Petite Sirah and 
Camay with it. One tends to soften it up a little bit, and the 
other gives a little more body to it than it has by itself. 

Why is it so inexpensive? 

Well, becuase the grapes are a pretty good producer. You know, 
it's not a great wine in the sense of Cabernet or Pinot noir it 
doesn't have that much flavor or that much delicacy but it ages 
very well. Some of the best real old wines, forty-year-old wines, 
that I have at home are old Barberas rather than old Cabernets. 

Where does your Zinfandel come from? 

The best and most of it comes from our Sonoma vineyard [Monte Rosso] , 
although we have a good planting of it now out in Chiles Valley 
[on the Glen Oak Ranch] . We needed to expand Zinfandel because 
nobody was planting Zinfandel here a few years back; everybody was 
planting Cabernet. 

It got so the Zinfandel got very high-priced (well, reasonably 
high-priced, considering the crop it puts out) for trying to keep 
it a kind of mid-price-range wine; it was getting very difficult. 
So we decided to expand our vineyards on Zinfandel when we got 
the Chiles Valley place, and they do quite well there. They make 
a different wine than Sonoma: the mountain vineyard is more intense 
and a bigger, more alcoholic wine, whereas this makes a softer, 
lower-alcohol wine we don't get the sugar out there that we get in 
Sonoma. It has a refined flavor, not as powerful as the Sonoma one. 



65 



Teiser: 
Martini: 

Teiser: 
Martini: 



Teiser: 
Martini: 

Teiser: 
Martini: 
Teiser: 
Martini: 



Do you blend them? 

We blend them to some extent, yes. 
the other a little bit. 



We use one to compensate for 



I suppose we should speak of Folle blanche, which is yours alone, 
is it not? 

Well, at least I think we're the only ones that put it out as a 
label; I think there 're other plantings in the state. But Folle 
blanche just happened to be on the ranch at Sonoma. 

I think a pretty good story is that when we first bought 
the ranch, which was in '37, we were told that it was Sylvaner, 
and we didn't know any difference, so we started labeling it as 
Sylvaner. Then, it wasn't until some time after World War II, 
around '46 or so, that we discovered it wasn't Sylvaner, it was 
Folle blanche. So we couldn't very well chop off the Sylvaner 
and end up with nothing to sell , so what we did was that we kept 
selling it as Sylvaner and planted Sylvaner in the meantime. And 
then as that came into bearing, we started blending the Sylvaner 
in with the Folle blanche a little bit more and more and replaced 
the Folle blanche with the Sylvaner and kept right on with the 
Sylvaner label, and then started a Folle blanche label, started 
labeling it as Folle blanche and putting the Folle blanche where 
it belonged. That was the easiest way to get around it. 

This is a reaction to consumer expectations? 

Well, yes, I'm sure that we'd have lost our Sylvaner sales all at 
once if we had suddenly dropped it and started calling it Folle 
blanche, even though it might have been the same wine. 

And now is the Folle blanche 100 percent? 

Yes. 

Are there some others that you have special plantings of? 

No. Right now we're playing with a block of Carmine up on the 
Healdsburg ranch, but we've only had a token amount of grapes so 
far. 



Teiser: How do you expect to use it? 



66 



Teiser: 
Martini: 



Martini: Well, I think it's a little bit overbearing to use straight, at 
least in that vineyard; it might get a better balance and not be 
quite so heavy in a little warmer area. But up in that Healdsburg 
vineyard, it's a little overbearing to use as a straight wine. 
It might make a good blender with Cabernet. It might add to some 
Cabernets, like special wines or something like this, a little 
more body and a little more tannin. We have to see first though, 
you know, how well it ages and what it does. So far they're very 
young vines and they tend to be overcropped because of their youth, 
so it's not a very good indication of what the grape will produce, 
although it certainly will produce a crop. 

What was the university's intention in creating that variety? 

I think they were trying to create a better Cabernet , that produces 
more grapes, and they did that all right, and it does have some 
Cabernet character. In fact, much too strong almost to be alone. 
But I think for enhancing other Cabernets or even other standard 
wines, it might be great. But I'd like to wait until the vines 
get a little older, when they settle down to producing a more 
normal crop. 

Teiser: Have you tried other new varieties or Olmo's? 

Martini: I've tried Carnelian, but it was on purchased grapes, and I didn't 
care much for it. Actually, it was grown over near Woodland, 
and that might have something to do with it, but I wasn't impressed 
by the wine it made at all. 

Teiser: When you speak of having made decisions about what to plant where, 
this, I suppose, is based on an increasing knowledge of various 
factors. 

Martini: Well, basically it's based on since we keep all our wines separate 
the quality of the wine and the consistency of the quality that 
we get off of those grapes from that vineyard, really. We know 
now that from the Monte Rosso vineyard in Sonoma we consistently 
get a top-grade Zinfandel and a top-grade Cabernet. So naturally 
we're going to be planting mostly those two varieties up there. 

Teiser: So it's not from theoretical analysis of climates and microclimates? 

Martini: Well, that helps a little bit, but that's not really the final 
decision. The final decision comes from what kind of wine it 
makes. 



Teiser: That takes longer to find out. 



67 



Martini: Oh, it takes a lot longer to find out, yes. The analyses will 

tell you whether you're in the ballpark or not. In other words, 
we put thermographs out like on the new vineyards and so on to 
get some idea of where that ballpark is. 

Any new vineyard land that we acquire , we ' 11 put in an 
experimental vineyard of maybe twenty vines of twenty different 
varieties, and then take a good look at those vines. We're not 
really set up to make real small lots of wine, but we take them 
and we analyze the grapes and take a look at the vines and the 
grapes themselves and taste them and see how we think they would 
fit. 

Then if we think they have some real potential, we'll put 
in five acres, enough to make a good-sized cask that we can 
handle commercially. And I don't mind giving up five acres for that 
purpose, and if it doesn't work out I'll take it out and put 
something else in. 

Like we tried Malbec over in Healdsburg, and it didn't work 
out, not because the wine wasn't any good but because I couldn't 
get a crop on the vines, it shattered so badly. We kept it for 
almost ten years, and then tore it up, and now we've got Chardonnay 
in that block. 

Teiser: Were you using Malbec to blend in Cabernet? 

Martini: Well, that was the idea, it was to try and blend it with Cabernet. 
And it had a purpose: sometimes 5 or 6 percent of Malbec changed 
the texture of the Cabernet a little bit. But I can't afford to 
grow grapes that only produce a half a ton to the acre. [laughing] 
And we used to leave lots of wood on them and get lots of clusters 
and the clusters had six berries each. So that wasn't very 
effective. 



Vineyard Spacing and Mechanical Harvesting 



Teiser: When you plant, are the planting patterns different than they were 
earlier? Is the spacing different? 

Martini: Well, the spacing, we've pretty well gone to a twelve-foot row 

spacing because of mechanical harvesting and our equipment is set 
for that now, so we've gone to that. On the more vigorous varieties, 



68 



Martini: we might go to twelve-by-seven or -eight, and on the less 

vigorous varieties we'll go to twelve-by-six. And of course 
in the mountains we try and plant on the contour to some extent , 
and when we do that your row widths vary, but we try and stay 
nine to sixteen feet between rows, and five feet between vines. 
If we start getting over sixteen, we'll stick a row in the middle. 

The major differences in most of our new plantings are that 
we're trellising everything with a two-wire trellis, and we're 
not doing any head pruning any more. We're doing either cane or 
cordon, and I think we may even go more to cordon in the future 
than we have in the past, we seem to have more success with that. 

Teiser: That's for mechanical harvesting? 

Martini: Yes. I mean that's the reason for not using head pruning any more 
is that you can't really mechanically harvest it. 



Protection Against Frost 



Teiser: Do you use water sprinklers for frost control? 

Martini: No, we only have a few blocks where we use water for frost control. 
The rest of the places we use wind machines and orchard heaters. 

Teiser: Do they work? 

Martini: Oh yes. They work if it doesn't get too cold, but so far, in the 
places that we have them, we haven't had a problem with them. 
If somebody turns them on, they work. [laughter] The worst problem 
is to get them turned on. 

Teiser: But you do use spray somewhere? 
Martini: Yes. On the Healdsburg ranch. 

fi 

Martini: Our vineyard in Healdsburg is right on the Russian River, and 
we're pumping right out of the underground flow of the Russian 
River, so there we've got all the water we need. The vineyard 
starts at river level, actually at water level, and there's a 
dike between our vineyard and the river itself. And then from 
there the vineyard goes up to where it's maybe a hundred feet 



69 



Martini: higher at the top of the ranch than it is at the bottom. It's 
on kind of benchland. It'll go up for, oh, maybe ten, fifteen 
feet and then it'll level off and maybe you'd have a forty-acre 
field that's all level and then you go back up another ten, 
fifteen feet and then another bench. So there 're a bunch of 
benches up there, and those are not as subject to frost as down 
below where all the cold air comes down these benches and settles 
down at the bottom. It can't get out because of the levee that's 
blocking the water from coming in. So there we've got water 
sprinklers protection. The rest of it we use wind machines, and 
we don't even need pots up there; the frost incidence is not that 
bad, so just the wind machines take care of it. 

In Napa we use both wind machines and pots; that is, on the 
Stanly Ranch, the La Loma vineyard. About half the pots are 
fueled by natural gas we have a main line going through the 
property and the other half are fueled by pressurized diesel 
fuel from a central location and it's all piped in. 

I'd rather have it all by natural gas, but they wouldn't 
give us that much gas, so we held them up for half of it but we 
couldn't hold them up for the rest. The reason we were able to 
even get that was that they wanted to change the location of 
their main line through the vineyard, so they needed a new right- 
of-way, and we said we wouldn't give them a new right-of-way 
unless they gave us some gas. [laughter] So we got some gas out 
of it. And the balance of the frost protection system is just 
diesel oil. 

Now, the other ranches. Chiles Valley is wind machines and 
pots again, again on the compressed oil system. And Healdsburg, 
as I mentioned, is water and wind machines. Chiles Valley does 
have one block next to the reservoir that we do sprinkle, simply 
because it's the coldest spot on the ranch; the cold air all 
drains down to it. 

And in Sonoma and Las Amigas we don't need any frost protection 
at all. And I don't think we're going to need any at the Lake 
County ranch either. It gets cold there in the winter, but it's 
not during the growing period. 



70 



The Lake County Ranch 



Teiser: Where is the ranch in Lake County? 

Martini: It's about four miles southwest of Lower Lake. It's on top of a 
ridge at 2000 feet elevation, which is about 800 feet above the 
lake level. It's very well-drained soil, red volcanic soil just 
like the Sonoma ranch; they're very similar type soils. We have 
lots of water, and a natural spring comes right out of the ground 
all year long that flows all the way from 200 gallons a minute 
at its lowest up to probably 500 or 600 gallons a minute during the 
winter. So we have plenty of water on the place, and we are 
going to put that into drip irrigation. 

Now the Chiles Valley ranch is all under drip irrigation. The 
Las Amigas Ranch is half under drip irrigation, the newer half; 
we don't really have enough water to do the whole thing down there. 
Some day we may get a source of reused water, you know, reclaimed 
water from the Napa ponds, and in that case then we will be able 
to put it all under drip. 

Drip makes a big difference in your yields and in the time 
it takes to get a crop on a young vineyard. In other words you 
can gain a year or two years in getting your first crop by having 
drip irrigation, simply because the vines grow faster; otherwise 
they're more stunted. 

In Sonoma we don't have enough water at the Monte Rosso for 
irrigation of any kind. In Lower Lake we'll have plenty of water, 
and in Pope Valley we'll have plenty of water when we get around 
to planting that. 

Teiser: When did you buy the Lake County vineyard? 
Martini: Two years ago. 
Teiser: Was it planted? 

Martini: No, no, there's nothing on it but sixty-four acres of walnuts. 
The whole ranch is 490 acres, of which somewheres between 300 
and 350 can go into vineyards. The rest of it is not suitable. 

Teiser: That's unusual, isn't it, to find that large a block of good 
vineyard land? 



71 



Martini: Well, it just happened to be there. You know, the strange part 
about that is that it had been at one time a resort, so there's 
lots of housing on it, lots of old cabins; they're old, as a lot 
of those Lake County places are, but they're good employee 
housing. And it's got a couple of houses on it. 

Teiser: What was the name of the resort? 

Martini: Perini. It was known as the Perini Ranch, and the Perini family 
had owned it since 1900. They had sixty-four acres of walnuts on 
it, which we kept. They they used to raise vegetables and cattle 
and so on. It's got about seventeen, eighteen acres of pastureland 
on it. And we're going to build a lake on it, probalby in the 
next year or two, to capture some of that water. There 're a couple 
of small reservoirs now, but they're not really big enough. So 
we're going to build a larger lake on it so we can capture some 
of that water and use it. 

Teiser: And do you have plans for varieties there? 

Martini: Well, we have a varietal block planted. We planted it this last 
spring, and we also planted some larger tracts of Barbera and 
some Cabernet up there so far. Last year we only planted about 
ten acres because that's all of the disease-free stock we could 
get. And we're planting each variety on its own root there, 
because there 're no vineyards anywheres near it, and Lake County 
doesn't have phylloxera yet. So we're putting this stuff on its 
own roots, and I think the first planting we'll get by with it. 
Now, thirty years from now when we have to replant the vineyard, 
we probably won't be able to get by with it; we'll probably have 
to use [resistant] rootstocks then. 

This year we're putting in another twenty acres, which will 
bring us up to thirty acres: about twenty in Cabernet and ten in 
Barbera. And then we're going to sit on that for a while and wait 
till it produces and see what we're getting before we do anything 
else. 

This is all forest land. It had to all be cleared. There 
were a tremendous number of rocks in it, big rocks, that you've 
got to dig out with bulldozers. But once it's cleared, it looks 
like it's going to make good land. 

Teiser: What about the Pope Valley ranch? 



72 



Martini: The Pope Valley ranch is about 250 acres, about 125 to 150 

plantable. It now has 12 acres of Semillon and 24 acres of walnuts 
on it. We expect it to be a Region III location, suitable for 
Cabernet, Barbera, and Camay and some whites. Our plans are to 
hold off planting this one until we have part of the Lake County 
ranch planted and producing. It was also purchased in 1982. 



Controlling Vineyard Pests and Diseases 



Teiser: Speaking of rootstock: when you can get away with it, do you 
plant vines on their own roots? 

Martini: Well, this is the first time we've ever tried it, because up till 
now we've always had vineyards in an area where there were lots of 
other vineyards around us so that I wouldn't even bother to take 
a chance. But I think if you can plant on its own root and get 
away with it , so much the better . 

Teiser: Are you all learning something from the recent phylloxera 
appearance in Monterey County? 

Martini: Well, I don't have any doubts that we'll have phylloxera sooner 
or later. I just think that if you don't have phylloxera at any 
given time, I think the first plantings you can probably get away 
with. I think after that, however, you probably cannot. I'm 
sure sooner or later phylloxera will get up into Lake County too . 

Teiser: Have you standardized what kind of rootstock you use? 

Martini: We've pretty much been using A x R #1. The main reason we switched 
over to A x R #1 years ago was that it was a lot cleaner stock. 
The [Rupestris] St. -George around had too many diseases, too many 
viruses, whereas the A x R #1 checked out much cleaner. So we 
started using that, and we've been kind of sticking to that. 

Teiser: Do you have to fumigate soil? 

Martini: This is something I'm not sure whether we should do or not. 

Fumigation has gotten so expensive that unless you really have to, 
it hardly pays to do it. If we replant, we fumigate; if we've had 
a vineyard in before, we fumigate. Or if we've had a prune 
orchard in before, we'll fumigate. But if they're just forest 
land or virgin land, we don't. 



73 



Teiser: Do you have any special disease- and pest-control practices? 

Martini: No, other than the normal sulfuring, and we have had occasionally, 
on certain spots, to do some control like for leaf hoppers where 
they became concentrated in one spot. But other than that we've 
done very little spraying. I'm not an exponent of going in and just 
automatically spraying whether you need it or not. 

Teiser: Is there a factor in just normal good housekeeping in vineyards 
that keeps disease and pests down? 

Martini: Well, yes. You've got to keep your weeds down, and you can't 

let them accumulate around the trunk of the vines or you'll start 
getting bugs that come in and set up housekeeping. And I think 
just plain, good farming practices will pretty well keep them 
out. The main thing is, of course, to get good, sound vines to 
begin with. 

Teiser: Where do you get them? 

Martini: We grow some of our own. We have a nursery. Our rootstock we 
generally grow our own, and if we need more we'll buy from 
commercial nurseries wherever we can find them; you know, nurseries 
that have a certain kind of stock available. 



More on Mechanical Harvesting 



Teiser: You spoke of mechanical harvesting in relation to vineyard 
spacing* 

Martini: We started using mechanical harvesting about 1971, that was the 

first year when we first bought a machine. One of the big factors 
in determining that was that we had so much Pinot noir planted 
in Napa. Pinot noir is very, very difficult to hand-pick because 
of the very small clusters, and since it was the first grape 
picked and was ripe ahead of anything else, we had an awful hard 
time with the pickers. They didn't want to pick it. They couldn't 
pick enough in a day. No matter what you paid them. Pickers are 
kind of funny; they like to see the results of their work almost 
as much as they like to see additional money. So if you pay them 
twice as much and they pick half as much, they're not as happy as 
if you pay them half as much and they can pick twice as much. 



*See pages 67-68. 



74 



Martini: So we decided to get a machine and to get most of that Pinot noir 
picked, so it wouldn't take so long. Otherwise it would take us 
two weeks to go through all the Pinot noir. The machine, under 
our conditions down there, will do the work of about sixteen 
pickers. We've had them side by side and just about the same 
number of tons come in hand-picked as machine-picked when we have 
about sixteen pickers picking by hand. That's at our crop level. 
Now if you had a bigger crop level, of course it would amount to 
more, but Pinot noir is not a very big crop, and it's also very 
hard to pick. 

Teiser: How about the condition of the grapes as they come into the winery 
then? 

Martini: There again, we've run experiments on trying to see if we get a 
different wine from the two, and we either can't tell the 
difference or the machine-picked wine sometimes is a little 
darker. And I can see why, because it has longer maceration time 
because it gets more smashed up . I think that the secret is to 
get them into the winery, crushed with sulfur in them, within three 
or four hours. If you can do that, you don't have any problems. 
If you're going to run them overnight and down through the 
San Joaquin Valley in 110-degree temperatures , then you might have 
some problems. 

Teiser: You don't do any field crushing? 

Martini: No. We don't have long enough hauls, we figure, to merit doing 
that . If you had a long haul , then that would be the way to go : 
field crush and add sulfur dioxide right there, and then just 
bring them in in a tank truck. 

Teiser: How about the roads from Lake County? 

Martini: Well, Lake County will take us probably an hour and a half to two 
hours, which is not bad. By car you can make it in an hour, but 
it is pretty mountainous. 

Teiser: Do you pick at night? 

Martini: Yes. Where we have the machine, we'll start picking around 

midnight and pick between about midnight and noon, and then knock 
off in the afternoon. 



Teiser: And hand-picking? 



75 



Martini: Well, by hand we have to pick during daylight hours. But if it's 
a real hot day, we'll knock off about three or four o'clock; 
the pickers poop out by then. 

Teiser: You have still only the one machine? 

Martini: No, we've two now. We have one we keep mostly on the Napa ranch, 
sometimes run it over to Chiles Valley to finish up there. And 
the other one is up at Healdsburg. And Sonoma doesn't lend itself 
to [mechanical] picking, it's too mountainous. However the Lake 
County ranch, I think a good percentage of that will lend itself 
to mechanical picking. It's mountainous, but it's on top of a 
ridge, and there are large areas that are reasonably flat on it, 
with less than, say, a 10 percent grade. 

Teiser: Drip irrigation doesn't get in the way of the mechanical harvester? 

Martini: No. The hoses that you stretch across are below the area where 
these strikers hit. 



Major Vineyard Advances 



Teiser: Are there any other factors that we haven't discussed in relation 
to the vineyards, as they've changed or as they are? 

Martini: No, I can't think of too much. I think the three probably biggest 
things to hit the valley are: one, irrigation in almost every 
place; and two, frost protection by water or some other method. 
Twenty or thirty years ago there wasn't any frost protection, so 
a lot of these places that are growing grapes now could not grow 
them at that time simply because they'd freeze every year and you'd 
end up with half a crop. 

Teiser: Why was there a change in irrigation? 

Martini: Well, with the drip system coming in. Almost everybody now has 

some sort of irrigation. There are very few really new vineyards 
anywhere that are strictly dry-farmed any more. Even in Napa, on 
the Stanly Ranch, where we don't have any water, we developed a 
reservoir and are picking up enough water that we can start 
putting drip irrigation on the new plantings. I don't think it 
would do much good to try and go into a twenty-year-old vineyard 



76 



Martini: and put drip irrigation in there. I think the roots are established 
differently, and I doubt if it would help. But I think it's 
well worth it on the new plantings because when the vines are 
young is when they get the maximum benefit of it. 

Teiser: You said there were three major changes 
Martini: The mechanical harvester is the third big change. 



Martini Winery Practices Today 



Teiser: What percentage of your grapes do you grow and what do you buy? 

Martini: It changes from year to year because of the crop level. If we 
have a small crop, we have to buy a little more. If we have a 
big crop, we can buy a little less. But generally it's running 
around 60 percent of our own production, and 40 percent we buy. 
And when we get our new areas planted it will be ten or fifteen 
years before they're all bearing we'll probably be up to around 
80 percent of our own production. 

Teiser: Do you buy grapes from other areas than the North Coast valleys? 

Martini: Right now we buy grapes only from Napa and Sonoma Counties. In the 
past we have used grapes from the Central Coast areas and if needed 
we would not hesitate to use those varieties that blended well 
with ours from these areas. We have not purchased grapes from 
the Central Valley for many years. 

Teiser: What about wine? Do you buy much wine? 

Martini: No, recently we haven't bought any. Years ago we used to buy some, 
and most of that was bought for our standard wines. We never 
bought any varietals, to speak of. Once in a while maybe one 
tank or something, but very seldom. 

See, our business has changed, purposefully, over the last, 
well, ten to fifteen years. We used to sell about 60 percent 
nonvintage, generic wines like burgundy and chablis and Mountain 
Red and Mountain White and 40 percent vintage, varietal wines. 
And now we're selling 80 percent vintage, varietal wines and 20 
percent of the other. So our requirements are completely different. 
We have more requirements for the varietal grapes, far less 
requirements for standard wines. 



77 



Martini; 



Teiser: 
Martini; 



Teiser: 
Martini: 
Teiser: 
Martini: 



Teiser 
Martini: 



In fact , our standard wines are generally now made up from what ' s 
left over from our varieties. If Cabernet has a bigger crop one 
year than you need, you're going to have 20-30,000 gallons left 
over it, so that's blended up with something else and made 
into burgundy. So we really don't have to go out and buy wines 
any more. 

What about jug wines? 

Well, we've stopped putting out all jugs, as you know jugs. The 
only thing we make in a larger container now are magnums. And 
magnums are in two categories. There's the burgundy and chablis, 
which have generally kind of replaced the jugs. And then there's 
the Cabernet and the Pinot noir and the Chardonnay and so on, 
which are priced exactly the same as that in bottles; there's 
no advantage in buying the magnums over buying the 750 ml. , except 
the advantage is that if you plan to age them, they'll age better. 
But there's no real advantage on a cost-per-ounce basis. The 
popular-level wines we do price down a little bit in magnums. 

Do you still make a chianti? 
Yes. That's only in 750 ml. 



What do you use in your chianti? 



Oh, most of those wines, like chianti and claret, that we make are 
mainly Zingandel. Again, they're a different blend of the leftover 
wines. In other words, for burgundy we'll put more Petite Sirah 
in it and more of the heavier varieties, more Pinot noir if we 
have any left over, and all the Pinot Saint-George. What we try 
and do on the burgundy is to keep out Zinf andel because it ' s so 
dominant in character, and blend the other varieties together. 
We try and put all the extra Zinfandel in the chianti and claret 
and Mountain Red. And then we blend them to give them the 
different degrees of lightness or heaviness simply by the blends 
we make; they're the same wines, but they're intermixed differently 
is what I'm trying to say. 

You yourself do the blending? 

Well, Mike does most of it now. I did it until the last couple of 
years, but since then he's been doing most of it. I check them 
and taste them before we do the actual final blend you know, 
taste the lab blends but he does the blending pretty much. He's 
doing most of the winemaking actually now. 



78 



Teiser: That's wonderful, isn't it? 

Martini: Yes, it's great except that I'm not doing the part that I like 
the best. [laughter] 



Distribution of Martini Wines 



Teiser: Maybe your distribution today might be discussed in relation to 
the "21" Brands and Parrott & Co. You started early on in this 
winery distributing through Parrott & Co.? 

Martini: We started right after the war. Some time in I think 1946 we gave 

our wines to Parrott, for the seven western states only; "21" Brands 
had it back east. 

During the war, "21" Brands bought out the Frank Schoonmaker 
line of wines that he was distributing. He was our first 
distributor back in the eastern part of the United States. Then he 
went in the service, and the company kind of folded up and wasn't 
doing anything, and "21" Brands bought their distribution rights 
from them for the eastern part of the states,* and we retained it 
for California and the West; apparently my dad did it on his own 
at that time; he was selling directly to wholesalers, and he had 
a few wholesalers. 

Then, during the war, I met John Menzies when we were both 
in the service. He mentioned at the time that after the war was 
over, he would come up and see us, and I had forgotten all about it; 
I wasn't paying any attention to the business then. 

Teiser: He was with Parrott & Co.? 

Martini: He was with Parrott & Co., yes. So after the war sometime in '46; 
I don't know just when it was he came up and talked it over, and 
we decided to give them our distribution for the seven western 
states instead of doing it ourselves. And that's how we got with 
them in the first place. So we've been with Parrott now since 1946. 

We stayed with both companies until about 1972 or '73. 
Foremost then bought "21" Brands, and it became part of a big 
conglomerate of Foremost and McKesson. 



*See also page 37. 



79 



Martini: Well, they really were not doing a good job for us back east. 

They really were not that interested in wines; they were interested 
in the Scotch whiskeys and cordials, everything else they were 
distributing, but they really had no interest in wines. 

And Parrott at that time had just separated from another 
distributor and had lost a number of the whiskey lines. So our 
wines and Wente ' s wines were the primary items that they had to 
sell. They had a few other smaller lines, but we were the primary 
items and constituted a high percentage of what they were selling. 

See, Parrott ran actually two companies: the liquor department 
and a kind of a grocery department; that is, a wholesale canned goods 
type grocery setup. John Menzies ran the liquor department and Bob 
Menzies, his younger brother, ran the other department. John wanted 
to sell Parrott & Co. because he was getting old and he wanted to 
retire, and Bob wasn't so crazy about selling his part of it, but 
at any rate it was one company. 

So they were looking around and so on, and Karl Wente and I 
got together and we said, "Look, if they sell to another conglomerate, 
we're going to be right back where we were with "21"; it's like 
working with the Pentagon working with some of these outfits. You 
never get answers. They never call you back. You don't know who 
to put the finger on if something goes wrong." So Karl says, "Why 
don't we buy it? Just the two of us, and maybe include Johnny 
Gallagher," who was at that time the vice-president, but he was 
really running the company. He was the guy that really knew the 
ropes as far as running the company, although John Menzies made 
the policy and so on. So we got together with them and we arrived 
at a figure and bought them out. Then we included Gallagher in 
it, so the three of us had a third each at that time. 

Just before we did that, however, when "21" was falling by 
the wayside, we asked Parrott if they were interested in taking the 
line for the whole United States, because they had never distributed 
throughout the whole United States. They had only distributed on 
the West Coast before. And so they thought, yes, that they would. 
And we thought, "Well, what the heck have we got to lose? They 
know our wines. If they do a good job, fine " 

## 

Martini: So they took it, and they were successful, and then it was about 

two years after that or so that we decided to buy Parrott out , and 
it took another year of negotiations and yak-yak and whatnot to 
finalize it. So we finally ended up with Gallagher and Wente and us 
owning Parrott. 



80 



Martini: And then about two years ago Gallagher is my age, he's sixty-five, 
and he's thinking of retiring in a couple of years he wanted to 
get his interest out , so we and Wente bought him out . So now 
Parrott belongs to just the two of us, the two wineries. 

Teiser: Who runs it? 

Martini: Oh, Gallagher still runs it. He's employed, as he was before, 
that just went right on. 

Teiser: So you don't have to manage? 

Martini: No, no. I wouldn't know what to do. [laughing] I don't know 
anything about sales. 

Teiser: Suppose something happens to Gallagher, then what? 

Martini: Well, we have another man. We have a national sales manager now. 

Teiser: You have other people in Parrott? 

Martini: Yes, we have other people in Parrott that are coming up. And we 

have an executive committee which is made up of Gallagher and Eric 
Wente and I that periodically get together and discuss policy and 
so on as far as Parrott is concerned. 

Teiser: So it works out? 

Martini: It works out. 

Teiser: Is that an unusual arrangement for wineries? 

Martini: Well, it works out pretty well. I think Christian Brothers has 

a similar arrangement with Fromm and Sichel now that they've bought 
them out. Our two companies always had a similar arrangement in 
that we had a primary distributor. 

Teiser: Do you think that's a trend? 

Martini: Well, there aren't too many companies that have a primary 

distributor. A lot of them just do their own distributing in-house. 
We've always felt that we really didn't want to build up our own 
staff that big. And it gets very expensive out there in the field. 
Unless you know what you're doing and you've got the right men, you 
can pour a lot of money into that distribution end. 



81 



Teiser: Are any of the younger members of your family interested in sales 
particularly? 

Martini: No, not too much. It still works out well to have I think a 
separate company doing it. 

Teiser: So all of your wines go through Parrott? 

Martini: All of the wines sold domestically, yes, in the U.S., go through 
Parrott. Except what's sold at the winery. And we sell a little 
bit to private customers by shipping and so on; that doesn't go 
through Parrott. But anything that goes through a wholesaler 
goes through Parrott. 

Teiser: Yes, I notice you have in the tasting room an order form. 

Martini: Yes. We reserve the right to sell direct to consumers, but 
anything that goes through the trade goes through Parrott. 

Teiser: Your pricing in the tasting room: I suppose it has to be equal 
to the highest at any retail store. 

Martini: Well, our pricing in the tasting room is set at what the normal 
store markup is of 50 percent. 1 mean that's the highest that 
you should have to pay anyplace for it. Otherwise we'd be under 
cutting the stores, and we don't really want to do that, because 
we need all the help we can get out there. [laughing] 

Teiser: I suppose people who are constant consumers don't buy at the 
tasting room. 

Martini: No, those that use a lot of wine I think are all using the 

Liquor Barn or these discount warehouses and stores. The wine is 
the same, you know. It's not quite the same as the grocery store 
where one might have better fruit and vegetables than the other. 
Wine that comes in a bottle is going to be the same; it doesn't 
matter who's got it. 

Teiser: Do a lot of the people who come to taste also buy? 

Martini: Oh sure. I think we figured out one time we average about a bottle 
a person in sales for the people that come here. Yes, it pays 
for itself, the operation, including the wines that we give away 
tasting. So if it does that, that's pretty good costless promotion. 



82 



Making Clonal Selections 



Teiser: You mentioned earlier the beginning of your work on clonal 
selection.* Would you continue discussing that? 

Martini: Well, there isn't an awful lot to discuss. We did some work back 
in the late forties and early fifties in cooperation with 
Professor Olmo, and picked out some individual clones of Pinot noir 
out of the Inglenook vineyard, Chardonnay out of where the heck 
did we get that? I guess our Sonoma vineyard and also McCrea's 
[Stony Hill] vineyard up here, and some Riesling out of our 
Sonoma vineyard, and made some clonal selection blocks down at 
Napa [in the Carneros area] out of it, and kept very close records. 
The university actually kept close records on it for the first 
ten years or so of the vines' existence and took samples and made 
small lots of wine and evaluated the wine, and they have all the 
information on the different clones. 

But we did manage to get some clones out of there that were 
superior clones. A couple of them I think the Chardonnay and the 
Pinot noir that are generally in distribution in the industry now 
came from those blocks, after they were cleaned up of viruses by 
the university, using their heat treatment techniques. And that 
basically is about all we did with the clonal selection. Of course 
in planting our own vineyards and expanding our own vineyards , we 
used some of the better clones as well. 

Teiser: You went out in the vineyard and found the best variety? 

Martini: That's exactly what we did. I'd go out in the vineyard, then I'd 
mark the vine so that I could go back to the same vine, and then 
we usually budded about forty vines of each variety. 

Teiser: When would you go out and select the vine? 

Martini: We'd select at the time the fruit was on, in August, just before 
picking. 

Martini: We'd mark the vine and then we'd get the bud wood after the wood 

was ripe. At the time the wood is ripe, the fruit is still on the 

vine, so you can evaluate the vine for type, productivity, freedom 
from disease, and taste [of the fruit]. 



*See also pages 20-21. 



83 



Martini: It's the same as I did with selecting the Gewurztraminer clone. 

I noticed, when we had the Gewurztraminer in Sonoma, the bud wood 
originally came from the university, that some fruit had a very 
intense flavor. I have a habit when I go through vineyards of 
eating all the time, and I noticed some vines had a very intense 
flavor and other vines did not, although everything else looked 
the same: the vines looked the same, the leaves looked the same; 
I couldn't tell them apart. 

So when we put the block in Napa, which was a small block, 
I went around and got the wood from only those that tasted intense. 
I tried to find vines that had a reasonably good crop , but if they 
didn't have the intense flavor I skipped them, no matter how good 
the crop was. And we did concentrate that clone it's probably 
more than one clone, it isn't a single clone or anything the more 
highly-flavored groups in that Napa ranch, and then we used the 
wood from the Napa ranch to expand it on up to Healdsburg. And 
that's, I think, one reason our Gewurztraminer has such a strong 
"Gewurzy" flavor to it. 

Teiser: You keep the residual sugar down in it? 

Martini: We let it ferment to dryness, yes. And sometimes we've had to 
blend it with either Riesling or Sylvaner to try and cut that 
strong flavor a little bit, because sometimes it's just too 
powerful. But that's basically the work that we did on clonal 
selection. 

Teiser: Just common sense more than anything. 
Martini: That's exactly right. 



A Family Enterprise 



Teiser: Is the ownership of the winery in a family corporation? 

Martini: Yes. 

Teiser: All family-owned? 

Martini: Yes. We operate actually as two companies. We operate some of 
the vineyards that we've acquired more recently as a separate 
corporation, which we call Edgehill Farms, Inc., and that was 



84 



Martini: 



Teiser: 

Martini: 

Teiser: 

Martini: 

Teiser: 

Martini: 

Teiser: 
Martini; 



Teiser: 
Martini: 



Teiser: 
Martini: 



started in '62.* Then the Louis M. Martini Company which is the 
one that my dad started, and we actually incorporated in 1947; 
before that it was a personal thing that company owns the La Loma 
vineyard and Monte Rosso. And the other company owns the rest of 
the vineyards. It's all in the family except that there's a 
different split of stock between the two companies; our children 
own far more of Edgehill than they do of Martini. 

I should ask you some vital statistics. When were you married? 
We were married on the first of March in 1947. 
And your wife's maiden name. 
Her maiden name is Martinelli. 
She didn't have far to go. 

No, she didn't even have to change her initials on her luggage, 
[laughing] 

And your children are 

Our oldest daughter is Carolyn. She was born the fifteenth of 
December in '47. And then the next one is Michael, and he was 
born twenty-three months later , November 7 , 1949 . And the 
next one is Peter, and he was born about twenty months later, 
July 6, 1951. And the last one is Patty, and she was born about 
twenty months later, February 7, 1953. 

So you had a whole bunch of them in school at once. 

Well, we sure did, yes. I guess we never did get all four in 
high school at once, I think that they just missed by one year. 
There were four of them within a five-year span almost, because 
Mike and Carolyn were twenty-three months apart , and because of 
the education division date they were only one year apart in school. 

[Interview 4: January 17, 1984 ]## 

When did you become president and general manager? 

I think that was in 1968, and, you know, it was strictly a formality, 
It didn't make any difference in what any of us did. 



*See page 36, 




Louis P., Patricia, Michael, and Carolyn Martini 
January 17, 1984 



Photograph by Ruth Teiser 



85 



Teiser : 
Martini: 



Teiser: 



Martini: 



Teiser: 
Martini: 



Teiser: 



Martini; 



Teiser: 
Martini: 



Teiser: 
Martini: 



Did your father's death in 1974 make a difference? 

Yes, to some extent, although for the five or seven years before 
his death he really wasn't very active. He would come around, 
but he never really accomplished very much. Before that time he 
did quite a bit. He used to like to handle the vineyards a lot; 
that is, oversee, kind of, the vineyards. And he used to do a 
lot of the PR work. 

He said in his interview that in 1965 someone asked him about 
buying the winery, and he asked you if you wanted to stick with it, 
and you said yes, and he didn't sell. 

I don't remember that specifically, but chances are that it's 
probably true because that ' s what I would have said if he had 
asked me, and I think he probably did, but I can't recall the 
incident. 

Were there many inquiries about selling the winery? 

Yes, between '65 and, say, '72 or '73, there were lots of inquiries, 
lots of people came around and wanted to purchase the winery. 
Eventually they either got discouraged with the wine industry or 
they got discouraged with us continually saying no, and they never 
bothered us any more. 



Now your children are in the firm. 
is his position? 



There ' s your son Michael ; what 



Well, Michael is the winemaker now, he actually does the winemaking. 
He handles the fermenting room. Now he's making the blends, and 
my role in that has got down to simply passing on them or making 
suggestions, but that's about it. 

Did he taste with you the way you tasted with your father? 

Yes. For the first couple of years we did it together, and we 
would make blends together, and then I let him slowly make more 
and more of them, and we'd go back and correct them. Then in the 
last couple of years, he's just been making them; he can do as good 
a job as I can, there's no question about that. 

He's a very fast learner. 

Well, he seems to enjoy that phase of it very much and he likes 
doing it and I think he's done fine. I mean I go back and taste 
his blends and I'll go back and taste the original wines that he 



86 



Martini: made them from, I can't see where I would have done it any 

different, or if I had done it different, I couldn't have done 
any better, and sometimes probably not as good. [laughing] 

Teiser: You have two daughters in the winery. 

Martini: Right, yes. Carolyn is the one that joined us first. She handles 
mostly administration, and she's been handling PR and that type 
of promotion and work as well. But we're going to turn that over 
to somebody else as soon as we find somebody. 

Teiser: And your other daughter is 

Martini: Pat. And she's done accounting work, and she's taking over in 
the accounting department. 

Teiser: Well, that's a good team you've raised. 

Martini: Yes. Yes, it's really worked out pretty well. All we need is a 
vineyard superintendent now in the family and we're all set. 
[laughing] 

Teiser: And your other son isn't interested in it? 

Martini: Oh, I had that notch laid out for him, but he wasn't interested. 

Teiser: Three out of four successes is pretty good. 

Martini: Yes, it's better than none. [laughter] 

Teiser: Well, you have one son-in-law; perhaps you'll have another who'll 
be the vineyard superintendent. 

Martini: Well, maybe. Yes, we have one son-on-law, and he's an attorney. 

Well, he isn't handling our account. We still have a San Francisco 
attorney do that , but he comes in handy once in a while on local 
things. 

Teiser: Do you see these young people taking the winery in any direction 
that is new? 

Martini: Oh, of course they're young and they're ambitious. Sometimes I 
get the feeling they want to take it faster than it should be 
going in some directions, like these new labels and so on it's 
been mostly their idea. In fact the labels were designed by 
Mike's wife Cathy. She's an industrial artist, although she's not 



87 



Martini: 



Teiser: 



Martini: 



Teiser: 
Martini: 



Teiser: 
Martini: 

Teiser: 
Martini: 



practicing now; she's just taking care of the kids. But we had 
some industrial artists in the city design some new labels. We 
felt we needed a change in the labels a little bit and had them 
designed. We didn't like any of them; we ended up liking hers 
better than any of them, so we took hers. That's one change that 
they've made. 

Mike is making quite a few changes, experimental changes, in 
small lots of wine, and putting them out as small lots, and some 
of the vinification processes, and so on. So there'll be some 
changes, there's no doubt about that. 

When you have a small lot, do you have any way of testing it on 
consumers? 

No, not really. We taste it ourselves, and what we are going to 
be doing with some of these small lots, if we're trying a technique 
that we might want to expand on to the others, we'll probably send 
it to one market and see how it goes there, like into LA or into 
San Francisco, rather than try and spread a small quantity all 
over the United States and everybody gets five bottles or something. 



Your tasting room is no good for that, is it? 

It's too confusing over there. The only way 
would be to ask some people from the tasting 
into the conference room and taste separately 
any evaluation in the tasting room, it's too 
much of a mess on weekends. You might do it 
we have never really done it. A lot of times 
of special vinification, the differences are 
the regular wine; there 're subtle differences 
room conditions would be pretty hard to pick 

Does the university consult with you at all? 



you could do that 
room to , say , come 

but to try and get 
confusing; it's too 
during the week, but 

these small lots 
not that great from 

that under tasting 
out. 



When we ask them to, yes, oh sure. If we get into trouble with 
wine production problems or spoilage problems or something like 
that, we use them a lot. 

It's interesting that Michael is attempting innovation. 

Well, you know, I would expect him to, because I attempted a lot of 
innovations when I first came in, and then I settled on my way of 
making wines and so on, and when you bring in a new winemaker 



88 



Martini: you're bound to do that. That's one reason we want to keep it in 
the family; we don't want a new winemaker more often than every 
thirty years. [laughing] If we can help it. 

Teiser: You've got some grandchildren coming along? 
Martini: We have three grandchildren. 
Teiser: Do any of them look like winemakers? 

Martini: Well, at four and two and three months, no. I don't think I looked 
much like a winemaker until I was pretty old either. [laughter] 

You know, there must be something about this industry because 
the industry does draw a lot of their children back into its 
fold, in one way or another. If you look at lots of the wineries 
around us, they are that way. 

Teiser: More now than for a time. 

Martini: Right. You know, right after World War II, it didn't look like 
it was going to be all that great. Now it looks like a more 
successful business than it did at that time. 



Martini Special Bottling and Labels 



Teiser: May we discuss your winery's special bottlings and vineyard 

selections? In earlier years I believe you did very little of 
that. 

Martini: Yes, that's right. We always did a little. We always had well, 
I say always; since the late forties anyway we've had what we 
call Special Selection wines, where we held out part of them 
and gave them additional age and also made specific blends. And 
in more recent years, in fact very recent years, we have gone to 
this Vineyard Selection 

Teiser: I have in my notes that that was done in 1981. 
Martini: Yes. 

H 

Teiser: You said you had occasionally put out Vineyard Selections. 



89 



Teiser: Yes, 



Martini: Yes. We've put out some Zinfandel from Monte Rosso, for instance, 
in the past, with the Monte Rosso name on the label, and that's 
primarily the main one. I think we put out one from the La Loma 
vineyard once before, but there 're very few; maybe a half a dozen 
at the most that we've put out. Now we're doing it with a lot 
more consistency. And there's a good reason for that. The main 
reason is that we have these various vineyards now planted into 
their second generation of grapes, and we've got the grapes we 
want on them. So we have enough wine made from these grapes that 
we can set part of it aside for a Vineyard Selection. 

We wouldn't bother to put it out if we didn't feel it was a 
better wine than, say, the regular label. But we have a better 
wine, and we have one that, you know, we can age longer and get 
more money for it. 

Yes, I think you mentioned that people had complained dealers 
and so forth that you didn't have expensive enough wines. 

Martini: Yes, so we thought we'd give them something more expensive, 
[laughter] 

Teiser: It's working out well, is it? 

Martini: Well, we've just got started with it, so we really don't know how 
well it's going to be selling, but we have such small quantities 
that selling shouldn't be a big problem. 

Teiser: Do you have to have special labels printed? 

Martini: Well, it's more expensive. What we're doing now is that we're 

printing the labels for each batch of wine, rather than before we 
printed up a year's or two-years' supply of labels and then kept 
using them on succeeding batches, maybe put an overprint of vintage 
date on them and an overprint of a different variety, but we printed 
up lots of labels. Now we're just printing the labels for each 
batch, on these special wines. 

Teiser: Have you been having your labels printed by the same company for 
many years? 

Martini: We changed a few years back because we weren't completely 

satisfied with the quality control that the original company was 
doing, and now we're having it all done up here in St. Helena, at 
Herdel's Printers. 



90 



Martini: 



Teiser: 
Martini; 

Teiser: 

Martini: 

Teiser: 

Martini: 



We used to have a Berkeley firm do it, but they weren't keeping 
good enough quality control on our vignette, which is a three-color 
print process. When you looked at the individual vignette, they 
all looked fine, but when you got them on a shelf lined up, they 
looked different. 

We now have settled on three labels, basically. We have the 
regular line, which is a label that's been modified from our 
regular label but still looks very similar to it. We have the 
Special Selection line, which is a completely different label 
than our regular label. And then we have the Vineyard Selection 
line, which is again a different lable from either of the other 
two. 

Do they have a family resemblance? 

Slightly. Well, they have a family resemblance in the terminology, 
but not so much in the appearance. 

They don't have the same vignette? 
No, they don't. 

The printing company that makes your labels must be a fairly 
substantial organization. 

Oh, they do a lot of labels up here. I think they do a lot of 
labels from other wineries as well. 



Wine Judgings and Recommendations 



Teiser: In 1958 your father wrote a letter to the San Francisco News* 

explaining why they weren't entering wines in state fair judgings. 
He had two reasons: there were too many complex factors for the 
judging to be valuable; and also wines entered weren't always 
generally commercially available. Do you enter wines in fair 
judgings much now? 

Martini: We started again; basically, this is the kids' idea. I still agree 
with those original thoughts that my dad had on it , but they seem 
to feel that in order to get the publicity and to get mentioned 



*It appeared in the issue of June 16. 



91 



Martini: that you better go, and if you don't get anything, okay, but if 
you get something, at least you've got something to talk about, 
and your salesmen have something to talk about. And that, as far 
as I'm concerned, is about the only value that the fair judging 
has. I really, on a quality basis, don't think that they're 
worth very much. Oh, sure, they'd throw out bad wines and so on. 

But my problem with fair judgings is I have several problems. 
One of them is that at any fair the wines are always judged out 
of the context from which they should be used, which is with food. 
And technically you can make a lot of comments about them, and 
you've got a group of wines, all of which are good. Then when 
you start picking the best among the good, it's very questionable 
as to whether this isn't opinions on a matter of style more than 
it is a matter of quality. And lighter wines and wines that are 
generally palatable at the time that they're put on the market 
really stand a very small chance of winning anything against what 
we call blockbusters. 

And you can't blame the judges for this. It's just the nature 
of the affair. I would probably do the same thing if I had a 
whole bunch of wines and really couldn't find anything wrong with 
any of them, but some were lighter than others and more elegant 
and I would prefer to drink them, but I'd have to pick this [other 
wine] as the better wine, simply because it had more of everything: 
it had more character, it had more this and that, and so on. 

So that's why I don't think they mean very much, overall. 
And nobody's going to turn bad wines into the fair. If you've 
got any kind of a winemaker at all, he's not going to send bad 
stuff there. 

And also I had some real reservations that, out of any class 
of ten wines or twenty wines at a fair, if you were to take the 
top five or six whether you could really show that they were 
statistically different. Yet there'll be a gold and a silver and 
a bronze and an honorable mention, and from a practical standpoint, 
who gets all the commotion? The one that gets the gold gets all 
the commotion. 

Teiser: Yes, I should think a bronze would be a kind of demerit. [laughing] 

Martini: Well, that's right, it's almost a demerit. Or in other fairs 

where they don't give medals, but rate them as one, two, three, 
four, five, who wants to buy wine number four? Good heavens, there 



92 



Martini: are three wines that are better than that, you know! [interviewer 
laughs] It's misleading, and the general public I don't think sees 
this. 

Teiser: I understand from publishers of wine publications that the 

general public likes to be told that this is a good wine and you 
should buy it. 

Martini: Yes, I think that's probably true. But, you know, it seems to me 
that it takes a tremendous amount of ego to go out and put out a 
publication and tell people what they should and shouldn't be 
drinking, based on your taste. I_ couldn't do it. I_ certainly 
couldn't go out and tell you what you should and shouldn't be 
drinking. I could tell you which wine I think might be best, but 
it certainly doesn't necessarily mean that that's the one you're 
going to like. Because a lot of times, if I'm judging wines, a 
lot of the wines that I think are best are not the ones that I_ like, 
but not too often. 

Teiser: So you know the spot that people are in. 

Martini: Yes, I can see the spot that the judges are in on that sort of 
thing, because you have to be completely objective when you're 
judging, but that doesn't mean that that's what you like to drink. 



Louis P. Martini's Evaluation of His Contributions 



Teiser: You have characterized your father's tastes and your tastes and 

your general attitudes. Can you just say what you think your major 
contribution to this winery has been so far? 

Martini: Well, I guess the fact that we're still in business. [laughter] 
I don't know, I really can't see where I've contributed an awful 
lot other than trying to keep an even keel and maintain the 
quality. Well, we have expanded the vineyards; that's been most 
of my doing. But other than trying to keep an even keel in the 
business and maintain us on a sound financial basis, I can't see 
where I've contributed all that much to it, to tell you the truth. 

Teiser: Someone told me that your contributions to the wine industry as 
a whole had been to keep it on an even keel and on a sound basis 
financially. 




Photo left: 

Louis P. Martini, about five 
years old. Photo courtesy of 
the Martini Winery. 



Photo below: 

Louis P. Martini tasting in the 

winery laboratory, ca. 1975. 

Photo courtesy of the Martini 

Winery. 



ML at* 




93 



Martini: Well, maybe I'm the type of person who just tries to keep things 
pretty much on an even keel. I think the fact that we've 
increased sales and expanded has just been part of the industry; 
I don't think we did anything particularly to do it. We kept from 
doing something that would deter that, but I think that we didn't 
do anything to promote it. 

Teiser: However, lots of wineries that were in the same situation as 

this one when you came into it, haven't expanded and maintained 
quality and maintained reasonable price levels. 

Martini: I think maybe what we have done is that we've operated the plant 
in a manner to achieve our goals and not cared too much of what 
other people have done. In other words, other people can increase 
tenfold, other people can put out sweet white wines if they want, 
other people can do what they want. We have the very definite, 
basic belief that wine is made to go with food, and that the wines 
that are traditional wines like the dry wines of Europe and so on- 
are traditional for only one reason: that's what the people 
prefer eventually when they start drinking wine. And so we've 
stuck with simply trying to make traditional wines. 



94 



III ACTIVITIES IN ORGANIZATIONS 



The American Society of Enologists 



Teiser: You became active in the American Society of Enologists at its 
formation? 

Martini: Yes, the American Society of Enologists was formed in 1950. It 
was formed due to the efforts primarily of Charlie Holden, from 
the Peralta Wine Company in Fresno , who came around and talked to 
a group of the technical people that were in the industry, one 
by one, and asked us what we thought about starting a scientific 
society of enologists and viticulturalists. 

I thought it was a good idea. I thought there was a need for 
something like that. Primarily he was interested in raising the 
scientific stature of an enologist. I was more interested in 
seeing an organization that would, say, turn out a journal that 
would consolidate the technical literature on winemaking and grape 
growing so that we didn't have to go to a half a dozen other 
scientific journals to pick up what's new in the field. I was 
also interested in seeing an organization take over the annual 
conferences that had been held and sponsored by the university up 
until then, and that's what the society did at that time. 

Teiser: Papers were given at that first meeting? 

Martini: Oh yes. Well, I was talking about the meeting of what turned out 
to be the board of directors, first, at the Hotel Wolf, but they 
did organize enough that year to take over the meeting at Davis, 
I think. Let me check. [goes to refer to materials] Yes, 1950 
was when they took over the first meetings, and the proceedings of 
1950 to 1953 were published during that time. 



95 



Teiser: Did it actually, then, immediately draw papers that would have 
gone, say, to the American Chemical Society journal and others? 

Martini: Yes, that's right. 

Teiser: What have been its major accomplishments? 

Martini: Well, one of them has been consolidating the papers into one 

journal, which has made them more readily available to the people 
in the wineries. The other one is, of course, the annual 
conference, where you get to know your colleagues and get to talk 
to them and exchange ideas. And the third is the exhibits at the 
annual conference, where you get a chnace to see new developments 
and equipment and techniques and so on, and talk to the people that 
have developed them, and have them for sale; and you also get a 
chance to look over a lot of machinery that you otherwise wouldn't 
really get a chance to see. Some of it is European, but so far 
most of it has been American equipment. The Europeans have just 
come in in the last couple of years with some of their equipment. 
Not in the same sense of some of the big enological fairs that 
they have in Europe, where they really have tremendous displays of 
European equipment. They have come in here to some extent in the 
last few years, and I think they would like to come in stronger. 
But it's going to be up to the society. Most of these places have 
just so much room for exhibits, and we've got about 150 now, and 
if we start letting the Europeans in, where they want lots of 
square footage, I'm not sure there's going to be room enough for 
everybody . 

Teiser: Don't the exhibitors pay for the space, help support the conference? 

Martini: Oh sure, that's right, so that financially the society is in very 
good shape now. I can remember way back when it wasn't. I 
remember the year that I was vice-president and in charge of putting 
the conference on, the first year that we left the university 
campus for our conference, and we went to Asilomar, which was a 
very nice ground and so on, but the society at that time was so 
poor, you might say, that we had a hard time making ends meet and 
coming out at the end of the conference with a balanced budget. 

That was also an interesting place to hold a conference 

because we had contracted to hold our conference there, we 

discovered that Asilomar was dry, and that we wouldn't have any 
wine on the property. 

Teiser: What did you do? 



96 



Martini; 



Teiser: 



Martini: 



Teiser: 
Martini: 

Teiser: 
Martini; 



Teiser: 
Martini; 



Well , we had our lunches without wine , and for our annual banquet 
we moved it into town and I think went to the Mark Thomas Inn 
in Monterey. 

The requisite for membership in the organization caused some 
discussion, didn't it? 

Yes, the requisite for membership at the start of the organization 
caused a lot of the discussion. There were basically two factors. 
There was one group that wanted to keep it on a fairly scientific 
basis and have at least a minimal bachelor's degree requirement 
for regular members , and there was another group that , in order 
to get more bodies in the society, was willing to expand the 
membership to include other people in the wineries. 

Fortunately, the group that wanted to keep the academic 
requirements won out, so that at that time, when it first started, 
the society membership requirements for a regular member were a 
bachelor's degree in a subject useful to enology or viticulture 
and five years' experience. 

You were on the board from the beginning? 

Yes, I think I was. I think I was right in with the ones that 
founded it at the start. 



And you gradually moved up and up till you became president? 
they have a succession of officers like that? 



Did 



Teiser: 



Only through the vice-presidency, I think, at that time. Now I 
think it goes further down the scale. Right from the start almost, 
the vice-president was in charge of putting on the conference, and 
then the next year he became president and the new vice-president 
would put on the conference. So my term of presidency came in 1956, 

What were your functions as president of the organization? 

Not as much as they were as vice-president. [laughing] The vice- 
president does all the work because he's got a conference to put 
on, and the president pretty much just has the board meetings and, 
you know, makes sure that the other people are doing their jobs; 
that's about all that you really have to do. 

When you were president though you presided over the conference, 
I assume. 



97 



Martini: You presided over the conference and you presided over the board 
meetings, and you did check to make sure that the vice-president 
and whoever was in charge of exhibits and all that sort of thing 
were doing their job. 

Teiser: Does the president have any control over the publication? 

Martini: That's really more handled by an editorial board, which the editor 
of the journal is in charge of. And it really, at least in those 
days, wasn't that closely tied into the presidency or anything, 
and I still don't think it is too much, other than naturally you 
would have influence because you could bring up at the board 
meetings anything that you disagreed with, and of course the editor 
would have to go along with what the board said. The board passes 
on most of these things, but not on papers; individual papers are 
passed by an editorial board. 

Teiser: You were given the Award of Merit of the ASEinl981. Your father 
had been given it earlier. 

Martini: Yes, I got it about ten years after he did. 

Teiser: It was said to be the first time that father and son had both won 
the same award. 

Martini: Yes, that's right. 

Teiser: Are you still active in the organization? 

Martini: Well, I'm on a couple of committees. I've been on the award 

committee for several years. The award committee also picks out 
the guest lecturer, or whatever they call it; they have a name 
for it. And I've been on the editorial board ever since I can 
remember, practically. 

Teiser: You have to read all the papers? 

Martini: No, no, no, we have a lot of reviewers that read the papers. 

[laughter] Basically, the board itself simply meets usually once 
a year and reviews everything that the editor has done in the past 
year and any changes in the format of the journal. Generally, it's 
a policy organization. I don't review any papers. Once in a while 
somebody sends me one to look over, but not very often. 

Teiser: The organization is nationwide now, you say, and international? 



98 



Martini: Well, it's always been international, but now it has a chapter in 
the East, and with Dr. [A.C.] Rice from New York, who I think is 
the one that's heading it up, or at least he was. They have 
their own conference back there, although many of them attend our 
conference out here as well. But they have their own conference, 
and they talk over their problems, which sometimes are quite 
different from people growing vinifera in other parts of the world. 
Their grapes are different, their climatic conditons are different; 
their problems are really quite different. 



The Wine Institute 



Teiser: You have been active in the Wine Institute since the early fifties 
also. 

Martini: Yes, in the early fifties is when I started getting a little more 
active in the Wine Institute, and I started originally through 
being a member of the Technical Advisory Committee, which in part 
was something like what the society does now. It would present 
papers, and I think we met either three or four times a year; I 
can't recall now. But it got to be such a large and rather unwieldy 
group that it was more like a conference than a committee that 
advised. We still have the Technical Advisory Committee at the 
Wine Institute, but it's a much smaller committee now; it's maybe 
a dozen people or something like that, and it does advise. It 
takes on problems and sees what can be done about them and advises 
the board of directors or the executive committee of the institute 
what should be done about them, whereas the other one was too big 
to really function well. 

Teiser: It had a Wine Institute staff member attached to it, didn't it? 

Martini: That's right. It had a Wine Institute staff member on it, and it 
turned out a lot of publications within the Wine Institute which 
were an in-house type of publication. 

Teiser: Didn't it do things like sanitation studies and 

Martini: Well, it would discuss these things. The institute itself didn't 
do any of these studies, but it would call on people to talk about 
their experiences and what studies they had done. It was basically 
a forum for exchanging technical ideas among the technical people 
in the institute. 



99 



Martini: The society took over the more scientific side of this, and the 
more practical side has been taken over by this organization 
called WITS, which is Wine Industry Technical Seminar, or 
Symposium, I guess; they changed their name recently, now they 
call it Symposium. And it was sponsored by Wines and Vines and 
several other people. But it's doing a lot of things the Technical 
Advisory Committee of Wine Institute used to do when it was a big 
committee. 

Teiser: Does it overlap with the ASE? 

Martini: Not really; the papers are quite different. The WITS papers have 
a much more practical aspect to them, and ASE has a much more 
scientific aspect to it. 

Teiser: What other committees have you been on in the Wine Institute? 

Martini: I think I've been on almost every one that they have, and at one 
time or another I think I was chairman of most of them. Just 
offhand, I've been on the Medical and Social Research Committee, 
or whatever they call it; I've been chairman of the Laws and 
Regulations Committee and the Viticultural Research Committee; I've 
been on the Scholarship Committee; on the Wine Quality Committee; 
and two or three others that I can't really think of. I have not 
been on the Economic Study Committee, and I don't think I've 
ever been on the By-laws Committee, and some of these. 

I'd say I've been on all of those that are involved at all 
with production problems, and not necessarily with other problems. 
Well, the Laws and Regulations Committee might be the exception 
to that, although it's very much involved with production. 

Teiser: What do you consider the main value of the Wine Institute? 

Martini: Oh, the main value, I suppose, is to offer a collective voice 
for the wineries of California, at both the federal level and 
state level. To my mind, some of its most important functions 
are really dealing with governments of other states and the 
federal government. 

Teiser: Does the Wine Institute deal with other organizations? For 

instance, a winemakers' organization in New York state and other 
such groups? 

Martini: I don't think it has up until John De Luca came in as president. 
He has been trying to solicit some of the other organizations on 
a more cooperative basis that have the same goals as the Wine 



100 



Martini: Institute, on specific problems. I don't think there's any 
attempt at all to try and get together and merge with any 
organization or anything of this nature. 

Teiser: You were chairman of the board of the Wine Institute long ago now; 
'66 and '67, I think. 

Martini: I think that's right, yes. 
Teiser: What were your functions then? 

Martini: Oh, other than running the meetings the board of directors, the 

executive committee, and the membership meetings the main function 
I found was that I tried to attend most of the meetings of 
committees so that I'd know what was going on when a recommendation 
came up to the executive committee or to the board of directors, 
and I wouldn't be caught flat-footed. Then the other main function 
was simply to be kind of advisory to John De Luca who was actually 
the day-to-day operating president of the institute. 

He was new on the job he'd only been there about six months 
when I got there and I felt that my function was more to guide 
him and try and stay in the background and let him get accustomed 
to his job and start setting his own pattern in the institute 
than it was to come forward and attempt to put some policies of 
my own into it. My feeling is that the chairman is only in there 
for a year, and he really can't change things very much in a year 
without upsetting everything, so the best thing he can do is guide, 
and if there's something he really feels needs changing, make 
suggestions for change and this sort of thing, but you can't go 
in and do like you would in a business and turn the whole thing 
upside down. 

Teiser: I wonder if every chairman attends all the meetings. 

Martini: Oh, I don't think they attend all of them, but they attend a 

number of them. I wanted to be sure that when I got to an executive 
meeting I wasn't faced with a bunch of surprises. 

Teiser: I remember John De Luca, giving a talk at a Wine Institute 

luncheon, described an event with you and Mrs. Martini when he 
was being considered for the position. He was very amusing about 
it. 

Martini: You heard that story, did you? [laughter] Well, at the time that 
he was being considered, I thought it would be nice if the 
executive committee members from Napa and Sonoma Counties, all of 



101 



Martini: them, would meet the guy. So we asked him up one day for a 

barbecue luncheon on a Sunday and we asked the executive committee 
people from up here and their wives over to it also. 

We have a deck outside our dining room, and we were sitting 
out there having some champagne before lunch while I was doing the 
barbecuing. We had recently lost the oak tree that was shading 
that deck because it just died, so we were pretty much out in the 
sun, and it was pretty warm. It was in July. And we kept John 
out there in the sun pouring champagne down, and then we had about 
three or four wines to have with luncheon and so on. 

Joe Heitz was one of our guests that day, and after the 
luncheon was over and everybody was up standing around, starting 
to go home , Joe came over to me and whispered and says , "That ' s 
our man. He drank champagne for the whole time outside, he drank 
plenty of wine with dinner, and he didn't have to leave the table 
once . " [ laughter ] 

Teiser: You knew he had lots of stamina. 

Martini: [laughing] Yes. 

Teiser: Well, I gather that the choice of him was for other reasons too. 

Martini: I wasn't on the committee that picked him out, but I gather that 
he was a real standout among all of the people that applied or 
that the committee reviewed. 



The Wine Advisory Board 






Teiser: Would you discuss the Wine Advisory Board? 

Martini: Okay.. 

Teiser: I believe you were on a Tasting Committee? 

Martini: Yes. Well, I was on the Wine Advisory Board itself, and then 

they also had a Tasting Committee that reviewed the work that was 
done at Davis on new hybrids. We felt, since the Wine Advisory 
Board funded a lot of that work that was done up there, that the 
industry members ought to take a look at some of the crosses, at 
least some of those that reached the finals; that is, they ought 



102 



Martini: 



Teiser: 
Martini: 



to take a look at the wines that they made so that they wouldn't 
get discarded when some of us might think that some of them had 
some good points to them. 

For instance, the tendency at the time was that unless the 
grape made an outstanding wine by itself, at least as good as or 
better than already existed in that category , and unless it had 
some other real redeeming points, there wasn't any point in 
retaining that grape in the collection any more. 

We felt that some of these might have blending possibilities 
and use in the winery that may not always be recognized by the 
professors, and that we wanted to take a look at them and see 
what we had and how it was developing and so on. So that's when 
the Tasting Committee was formed. 

Did you rescue from oblivion some varieties? 

We don't know because we got them before they had a chance to be 
thrown out. But we were afraid that that might happen unless 
industry people had a chance to take a look at them, and that 
was the reason that the committee was formed in the first place. 
And then it also helped the university people as a guide as to what 
the industry wanted in their breeding programs. And it was very 
interesting work; I enjoyed it. 

As a member of the board itself, you just directed its activities, 
1 assume. 

That's right. As a member of the board, and it was a large 
board, we simply directed its activities and how the money was 
to be spent that was collected and that type of activity. 

Were you on other committees also? 

Yes, but it's been a while now and I really can't remember too 
much. They had, for instance, this Viticultural Research 
Committee; at that time their Viticultural Research Committee 
was the one that was passing on viticulture funding, funding for 
Viticultural research, and I recall being on that. And they had 
several of the committees that were later on, when the Wine 
Advisory Board dissolved, taken on by Wine Institute. 

Teiser: Do you regret the passing of the Wine Advisory Board? 



Teiser: 
Martini: 

Teiser: 
Martini: 



103 



Martini: In a way, yes, because the industry, I feel, could do a lot more 
if it had those kind of funds available to it that the Wine 
Advisory Board provided. The problem was that the state was 
getting too involved in how we were to spend the funds. And if it's 
going to tell you how you're going to spend your own funds we 
considered that they were our funds and the state was merely being 
paid for administering the program, but they claimed, no, it was 
state funds and therefore could not be used to attempt to break 
down state barriers of other states. And that would really be 
the crux of why we discontinued the Wine Advisory Board. 

Teiser: Oh, that specific subject? 

Martini: Yes, well, there were other things too, but that was primarily 
the reason, as far as I was concerned, that if we couldn't use 
any of the funds to break down barriers to California wines, then 
there wasn't much point in having the funds; then we'd rather do 
it on a voluntary basis and do what we want to do with the money. 

Teiser: When you speak of the state, I assume we're talking about Governor 
Jerry [Edmund G.,Jr.] Brown? 

Martini: Yes, right. [laughing] 

Teiser: He was against lobbying? In general, was that his idea? 

Martini: That's right, yes. You know, let's say another state wanted to 
put on a special tax on wines, obviously we would want to lobby 
against it because that is a barrier to the sale of our wine. 
Or whatever regulation they wanted to put in that would be a 
barrier to the sale or the free flow of goods in that state, why, 
we felt we should lobby against it, and if we couldn't use the 
funds, our own funds that we collected for that purpose, there 
wasn't much point in collecting them. 



Teiser: I believe there are some things that the Wine Advisory Board did 

that I believe are no longer done. For instance, an aerial survey. 

Martini: Yes. That's right. I don't think that's done now. 

Well, obviously the Wine Institute had to cut out some of 
the things the Wine Advisory Board had done because even though 
the institute assessed the wineries the same amount they were 
paying to the Wine Advisory Board, membership was not mandatory. 
Italian Swiss Colony or United Vintners, I should say dropped 
out, and that made a big difference in Wine Institute funds. So 



104 



Martini: they had to cut some things out, and I guess that was one of the 
things that went by the wayside. I haven't ever paid much 
attention to the aerial survey because it doesn't apply to our 
part of the country. 

Teiser: Not even indirectly? 

Martini: It was in the [San Joaquin] Valley, but not here. It gave more 

information on how much of the valley tonnage was going to raisins. 
That's where I think the primary information came from, whether 
they were going to have a big raisin lay or a small raisin lay, 
because obviously, if they didn't lay it down as raisins, it was 
going to end up in a winery. 

Teiser: Are the coastal valleys immune, in effect, to such conditions? 

Martini: Not completely, I'd say, but that type of survey I don't think 

really had much effect on grape prices or anything up here. You 
either need the grapes from here or you don't; if you don't need 
them, you're not going to buy them, because they're going to be 
a lot more expensive than the valley grapes. 

Teiser: The Wine Institute had carried out some of the functions for the 
Wine Advisory Board. 

Martini: Oh yes, it carried out a lot of the functions of the Wine 
Advisory Board. 

Teiser: But it is a voluntary organization, and I suppose that there's 
something valuable in that. 

Martini: Well, it can do what it wants with its funds, that's one thing. 

We never had any trouble until [Governor] Jerry Brown and Rose Bird 
got up there in Sacramento, with the Wine Advisory Board funds, 
actually. Then you had to keep closer track of them, and there 
were some activities that you were not allowed to do , but lobbying 
was not one of them at that time. 

You know, there's no point in promoting wines around the 
country unless you can break down the barriers that the states 
put up against you. In other words, if you've got to go against 
the tide all the time, your best bet is to try and stop the tide. 

Teiser: So, by implication the new rules worked against all the promotion 
that the Wine Advisory Board did, advertising and so forth. 



105 



Martini: It was some; it wasn't really all that much, I don't think. 

Originally, it used to have personnel around the country this 
is, oh, way back, twenty years ago or more but in more recent 
years they did not have that, they just worked by more or less a 
centrally located PR program. 

Teiser: Do you think that that was a valuable thing? 

Martini: I think it had some value, but I think it was still too limited 

to really have a lot of value. My feeling is that if you're going 
to do promotion and advertising, you've really got to go at it 
big, and spend maybe four or five times what we had available to 
spend, to make it effective. I think we were kind of in the 
in-between stage of where we were doing a little good, but I'm 
not sure it was cost-effective for what we were doing. To be 
cost-effective, we probably would have had to spend a lot more. 

Teiser: Any possibility that in the future such a thing could be done? 

Martini: I don't know. I doubt if there is, unless business gets a lot 
better than it has been the last year or two, because most 
wineries aren't about to go spend a lot of money on generic 
promotion; they'd rather put it in their own promotion. 

What the Wine Institute I think is doing now, its biggest 
thing, is trying to get like these public radio station wine 
tastings around the country and this sort of thing, get wine 
introduced into a lot of these places. 

But in an industry that its product is as varied as ours is, 
it's very difficult to promote just wine as wine. I think it's 
more effective probably, far more cost-effective, to promote 
individual brands of wine, and then hope that that spills over 
on some of the others. 

Teiser: The wineries that have pulled out of the Wine Institute is there 
any anticipation now that they'll come back? 

Martini: Well, John keeps trying to bring them back. Hopefully, some day 
we can get the Heublein group back. And I don't know what the 
situation is, now that they've divested themselves of some of 
their holdings, whether the new Italian Swiss Colony bunch is 
going to come in or not; I suspect that we might be able to get 
them back in. But the Heublein group for a while probably will not 
come back in. The last one I heard that might be leaving is 
Almaden; that would be a big one too. 



106 



The Napa Valley Vintners Association 



Teiser: Going on to the Napa Valley Vintners Association, that's an old 
organization, is it not? 

Martini: That was started in 1944, and actually my dad is the one that 

started it. He got it going by having a luncheon up at our Sonoma 
vineyard, actually, of just inviting four people up. I think it 
was he and John Daniel [Jr.] and Louis Stralla and I can't recall 
who else. Well, I wasn't here, so I'm not really sure who else 
was there. But that four got it started. 

The real purpose of starting it to begin with was in response 
to wartime government regulations and price controls. They felt 
that they had to get together and discuss some of these things 
that the government was wanting to impose on the industry because 
some of those affected the industry up here far differently than 
they would, say, affect the industry in the San Joaquin Valley. 

The association at that time really started with the idea of 
having kind of a forum in which the valley wineries and there 
were only eight or ten of them at the time would get together 
once a month and just have a nice lunch and have some good wines 
and get to know each other a little better and talk over some of 
these problems , like price controls during the war , and the labor 
problem. It was very hard to get labor in the valley; they had 
to use prisoners of war and all sorts of things for picking 
season. 

That was how it was originally started, and it continued 
that way really for many years, until the seventies when we 
started getting more and more members in, and now we're up to 
seventy-eight. There's a bunch of people that are becoming pretty 
active in trying to make more of a trade association out of it; 
that is basically what they're trying to do. We now have an 
office; we never used to have an office. We now have a full-time 
executive director, or she's really a part-time executive director. 

Teiser: I see recently the association was advertising for a full-time 
public relations specialist. 

Martini: They haven't found one yet. We have somebody running it now, but 
she doesn't want to be doing it anymore; it's more work than she 
wants to do. Julie Dixon it used to be Julie Chapman who was 
one of the attorneys for Wine Institute. She married someone 



107 



Martini: from up here and moved up here on a ranch, and she took on 

the job as part-time executive director of the organization, and 
she's doing fine except she doesn't want to spend as much time 
as is needed. 



Napa Valley Wine Promotion 



Martini: Some of the vintners want more activity and promotion of Napa 

Valley appellation, for instance, and they want more activity in 
getting involved with the county government, this sort of thing. 

Teiser: If any wine in the state sells, Napa Valley wine sells, doesn't 
it? 

Martini: I would think so. [laughing] I would think so. But they still 
feel that the other areas are increasing their activities and if 
they just sit still I'm not in complete agreement with them. I 
think you can do too much promoting of something sometimes. But 
there's no point in fighting it, so, unless they get too expensive, 
why, we'll just let them go. 

You know, some of these people that have come into the 
industry are pretty high-powered executives from other places, and 
are used to a different lifestyle and a different type of promotion 
than most of the old wine people are. And maybe we are falling 
behind the times as far as how you should promote wine, but my 
personal feeling is that you just can't promote wine like you do 
7-Up or soap or something else; it's not the same type of product. 
You need a completely different approach. 

In other words, I don't think that trying to push people to 
purchase wine is as cost-effective as, let's say, it is to try and 
push them to buy a brand of soap or to buy something else. I 
think it's more of an evolutionary process. And the people have 
got to at first get to know and like the wine, and then once 
they've done that, then you can sell them the wine, but until 
you've done that you might push a bottle or two on them, but 
you're not going to push very much. 

Teiser: Has the association tackled the question of visitors to the 
wineries? 



108 



Martini: I don't think "tackle" is the word for it. [laughter] "Tackling" 
implies that they stop it. [more laughter] They've discussed 
it, and we have done some work on trying to see just what effect 
the winery visitors have on the valley. We have some statistics 
on the numbers of visitors, the numbers of places they visit, and 
so on, and it's very good material actually. They did this about 
five years ago, and then they did it again this last year to see 
where the change is. 

Well, the last year's stuff hasn't been put through the 
computer yet, so we don't know the results of it. The one five 
years ago showed that the wineries did not have as great an effect 
as they thought; in other words, there aren't as many people that 
come into the valley to visit wineries only as they thought there 
were originally. 

Teiser: But is there general feeling that the area is overcrowded in 
summer, on the weekends, and so forth? 

Martini: Oh, a lot of people think that, sure. 
Teiser: Do you think so? 

Martini: Yes, for personal comfort, yes. For business, no. [laughing] 
You know, it depends upon what you want. No, I agree; I'd like 
to see it back to where it was in 1933 when we moved up here, but 
that's not feasible, so you put up with what you've got. 

Teiser: Do you think that the tourists are having any effect upon shrinking 
the amount of land for vineyards? 

Martini: No, not an awful lot. The tourists don't have an effect on that; 
that's from the people that want to move up here. But I don't 
think the tourists themselves have any effect as far as the 
vineyard land is concerned. 

You know, the reason I'm not too excited about it is that I 
can't see how you could stop it without really getting involved in 
personal liberties of people. 

Teiser: Well, you could stop giving them samples of wine. 

Martini: Well, okay, but that's our best way of promoting. You know, 

that's the only way we ever did any promotion here at the start 
was letting people come in and taste wines and buy it. If you stop 
that, then you've got to go through other ways of promotion which 
are a lot more expensive and are not self-liquidating, which 
that activity is. 



109 



Teiser: The idea of a central tasting place has been discussed 

Martini: Oh, with 150 wineries in the valley? What good would it do? 

There's no point in even having your wines there, because nobody 
would want to taste the ones that they know or had heard about , 
they'd want to taste all the ones that they had never heard 
about. For one of us older, established wineries to present our 
wines at a tasting with a hundred wineries I think is absolutely 
worthless. 

Teiser: I notice you don't often. 

Martini: Well, we still do occasionally, but I don't think it's worth it. 
It's completely not cost-effective. 

Teiser: When I go to large tastings I try to taste wines that I have never 
tasted before. 

Martini: Sure, or wineries you'd never heard of before and so on. And 

that's what everybody does. They'll walk right by our table and 
say, "Oh yeah, we know those wines," and go on to soembody else's. 
And they do the same thing to Beaulieu and Krug and some of the 
others that have been around. 

Teiser: I notice in all the published material on what consumers should 

like, recommended wines to buy, rarely are Martini wines mentioned. 

Martini: I think it's primarily because we're old hat. You know, there's 
nothing exciting about mentioning Martini wines. Once in a while 
we get a mention on some, but most of the times we're pretty well 
overlooked. 

Teiser: Do you not make an effort to have your wines tasted by publications? 

Martini: We've made a little bit more of an effort recently than we have 
in the past. For a long time we really didn't make any effort 
at all. 

Teiser: You have to get your wines to them. 

Martini: Yes. It's difficult to get wines to people, to start with. And 
you can't depend on your distributors and so on to do it because 
they won't do it, when you have a new release. We've been trying 
to get a little bit more on the ball, and that's one reason we're 
looking for someone in fact , we may have found her someone 
that's going to handle just that department and make sure that we 
get out news releases. And just by sheer weight of volume you're 
going to get some of them listened to. [laughing] 



110 



Regional Water Quality Control Board 



Teiser: Are there other organizations in which you've been active? 

Martini: Well, I was on the school board up here for nine years, and then 
I was on the Regional Water Quality Control Board in Oakland for 
nine years, from 1972 to 1981. 

Teiser: Ah, yes. That does have agricultural implications. 

Martini: Yes. The Regional Water Quality Control Board actually controls 
the effluent that goes into San Francisco Bay, everything in the 
watershed of the San Francisco Bay. And it is made up of members 
within the region that represent different [groups]. There's 
somebody representing municipal government, somebody representing 
county government. I represented agricultural interests on it. 

Teiser: Does it have anything to do with winery waste water? 

Martini: Oh yes. We were involved in any kind of waste water, when it 
potentially contaminates streams or ground water. Any kind of 
waste water the board is involved in, and you have to get a permit 
from them to dispose of waste water. 

Teiser: How about sprays and things in agriculture? 

Martini: It was involved in it if they find their way into the water, yes. 
We were not involved in spraying programs or anything of that 
nature that did not potentially contaminate water. 

Teiser: Were you able to do a good deal to keep things clean? 

Martini: Well, the board's been in existence I think since about 1952, 

and San Francisco Bay is about fifteen times cleaner now than it 
was in 1952. In most areas if it weren't for San Francisco, it 
would be swimmable in all areas. 

Teiser: You could dig clams in the bay as your grandfather did? 
Martini: Yes, well, there are clam beds and shrimp beds in the bay. 
Teiser: Coming back now? 

Martini: Oh yes. They're back. Once in a while they get clobbered, like the 
ones down near San Jose a couple of years ago where they had a big 
spill, but they're coming back again. And once the San Francisco 
situation is cleaned up, the bay will really show a marked improvement. 



Ill 






IV NAPA VINEYARD LAND AND CURRENT USE TRENDS 



Teiser: 



Martini: 



Teiser: 
Martini: 



What about the greenbelt? I know that this valley has legislation 
protecting agricultural lands. How does it work? 

Well, we have what we call the Ag Preserve areas in the valley, 
in different parts of the valley. That was started back in '68 
for the purpose of allowing people within the area to put their 
land under contract, what's called a Williamson Act contract, 
which is a contract with the county. It's a ten-year contract with 
the county, automatically renewable each year until either the 
county or the farmer cancels it, and then there's a ten-year 
phase-out period on it. 

The purpose of it is that you are then taxed on the ability of 
the land to produce, and not what your neighbor paid for his 
property. Essentially the principle of taxation before was to 
take general land values, regardless of their use, and tax the 
land based on that. So a farmer with, say, 100 acres, and 
subdivisions all around him, would have his 100 acres taxed at 
subdivision prices. Under the Ag Preserve situation you continue 
to be taxed as agriculture as long as you stay in agriculture. 

When we first put this in, our hope was that it would do two 
things. First of all, it would keep farmers from going out of business 
because of extremely high taxes. And secondly, it would maintain 
agricultural land prices at agricultural levels. Well, it's done 
the first, but it has not done the second. Land prices have still 
skyrocketed in spite of the fact that they're used for agriculture. 
And my feeling is that any land on the valley floor now is simply 
not worth farming if that's what you're depending upon for a living. 



If you have to buy it now 

If you have to buy it now, yes, 
your money out of it, anyway. 



It just can't be farmed, and get 



112 



Teiser: How much vineyard acreage do you guess is held by people who don't 
have to get their money out of it? 

Martini: In this valley? 
Teiser: Yes. 

Martini: I really don't know, because most of them are not particularly 

large holdings. You know, I'm assuming that the larger wineries 
that have land in the valley all are doing it on a commercial 
basis, and they're not going around spending $30,000 an acre for 
land. And that involves a lot of acreage. So most of the ones 
that are playthings are probably up to about forty acres, I would 
guess. I really don't know. I could make a guess and be 100 percent 
wrong . [ laughing ] 

Teiser: In the aggregate they are not a significant part of the 

Martini: Well, they're significant enough to raise the price of all the 
land, however; they're not, you know, insignificant at all. 

Teiser: Do many of the people who make wine for pleasure I don't know 
what else you'd call it buy, however, from the established 
vineyards? 

Martini: To some extent, yes, they do. A lot of them do have their own 
small vineyard, and then may buy additional grapes so that they 
can try and get their winery built up. For instance, they may 
have twenty acres, but they want to sell 10,000 cases, and twenty 
acres is not enough to supply 10,000 cases, so they buy it from 
the outside to make up the difference. But most of them have 
vineyard land in connection with their winery some way. 

Teiser: For the established winemakers and grape growers, have they helped 
them in any way? Have they hindered them in any way? 

Martini: Well, they've made it impossible for the established ones to buy 
any more land, is one thing that they've done. As far as helping 
them, they might have helped in the sense that they made more good 
grapes avilable, because a lot of these landowners do not have 
wineries, but they do sell their grapes out, and if they've replanted 
their vineyards or just started planting their vineyards, they 
would have planted them to better grape varieties , and it has the 
effect of just making more good grapes available. And that's 
obviously helpful to the whole industry. 



Transcriber: Joyce Minick 
Final Typist: Keiko Sugimoto 



113 



TAPE GUIDE ~ Louis P. Martini 



Interview 1: December 27, 1983 
tape 1, side A 
tape 1, side B 
tape 2, side A 

Interview 2: January 4, 1984 
tape 2, side B 
tape 3, side A 
tape 3, side B 

Interview 3: January 11, 1984 
tape 4, side A 
tape 4, side. E 
tape 5, side A 

Interview 4: January 17, 1984 
tape 5, side B 
tape 6, side A 
tape 6, side B 



1 

14 
28 

33 
33 

40 

51 

58 
58 
68 
79 

84 

84 

88 

103 






"V "> *7 ' ""' ' 

4 vVvt J* I if* 

/ 

114 
FIFTY YEARS IN THE WINE INDUSTRY 

I WAS ALMOST BORN IN A WINERY - I MISSED IT BY ABOUT 100 FT. THAT 
WAS THE DISTANCE BETWEEN MY GRANDFATHER'S HOUSE AND HIS WINERY IN 
LIVERMORE. AT THAT TIME MY DAD WAS BETWEEN JOBS AND WE LIVED IN 
THE BAYVIEW DISTRICT OF SAN FRANCISCO. A COUPLE YEARS LATER WE 
MOVED TO KINGSBURG WHERE I GREW UP AND WAS FIRST EXPOSED TO WINERY 
ATMOSPHERE. 

SOME OF THESE EARLY EXPERIENCES I STILL REMEMBER WELL. I RECALL 
THE FIRST TIME I EVER EXPERIENCED THE EFFECTS OF ALCOHOL. I WAS ABOUT 
7 YEARS OLD AND A SCHOOL CHUM AND I WERE HANGING AROUND THE WINERY 
ONE SATURDAY MORNING WHEN WE DISCOVERED SEVERAL ROWS OF BRANDY 
BARRELS THAT HAD JUST BEEN EMPTIED. THE BUNGS WERE OFF AND I GUESS 
WE THOUGHT THEY SMELLED PRETTY GOOD. WE WENT RIGHT DOWN THE ROWS 
SMELLING THEM ALL AND MANAGED TO GET COMPLETELY PLASTERED. THAT 
WAS PROBABLY MY FIRST CONSCIENCE OLFACTORY EXPERIENCE. 

OTHER FOND MEMORIES INCLUDE THE JUNK YARD - OR MUSEUM AS WE 
CALLED IT - A COLLECTION OF DISCARDED WINERY EQUIPMENT RUSTING AWAY 
BEHIND THE WINERY. TO A LITTLE BOY THIS EQUIPMENT BECAME MOTOR 
CYCLES, POLICE CARS AND FIGHTER PLANE COCKPITS - WHAT A GREAT PLAY 
GROUND. 

ONE EVENT WHICH I DID NOT WITNESS BUT HEARD A LOT ABOUT LATER 
WAS THE BURNING DOWN OF OUR DISTILLERY. IT SEEMS THAT A GOVERNMENT 
GAUGER WANTED TO INSPECT THE INSIDE OF AN EMPTY BRANDY RECEIVING 
TANK. HIS FLASHLIGHT BATTERIES WERE DEAD SO HE CARRIED A CANDLE IN 
WITH HIM - HE CARRIED IT OUT TOO - RIGHT OUT THE TOP ALONG WITH THE 



115 

REST OF OUR DISTILLERY. THAT HAPPENED SOMETIME IN THE EARLY TWENTIES. 
ONE YEAR WHEN GRAPE PRICES WERE $2.00/TON AND WE WERE OFFERING 
$6.00/TON, OLD TRUCKS AND WAGONS LOADED WITH GRAPES FILLED THE YARD 
IN FRONT OF .OUR HOUSE AND STRETCHED FOR SEVERAL BLOCKS ALONG 
DINUBA AVENUE. SOME WERE THERE FOR THREE DAYS. TEAMS OF HORSES 
AND MULES WOULD BE UNHITCHED FROM THEIR WAGONS AND RIDDEN HOME 
AT NIGHT AND BACK IN THE MORNING. THERE WERE FIGHTS AMONG GROWERS 
WHO WERE TRYING TO CUT IN AHEAD OF EACH OTHER. THE GRAPES WERE 
MOSTLY THOMPSONS, SOME MUSCATS AND MALAGAS,, MANY WERE CULLES. 

I WELL RECALL THE DAY IN 1932 WHEN ROOSEVELT WAS ELECTED. HE 
HAD PROMISED TO REPEAL PROHIBITION AND OF COURSE MY DAD WAS ALL 
FOR HIM. WE KEPT THE STEAM UP IN THE BOILERS THAT NIGHT UNTIL 
ROOSEVELT WAS DECLARED A WINNER AT WHICH TIME MY DAD TIED DOWN 
THE CHAIN OF THE STEAM WHISTLE AND LET IT BLOW FOR ABOUT 15 MINUTES. 
THAT WAS SOMETIME AFTER MIDNIGHT. THERE WAS A BUMPER CROP OF BABIES 
IN KINGSBURG NINE MONTHS LATER. 

AFTER PROHIBITION WAS REPEALED MY DAD WAS DETERMINED TO START 
A WINERY IN THE COASTAL COUNTIES. HE LOOKED AT SANTA CLARA, SONOMA 
AND NAPA COUNTIES. SANTA CLARA HE REJECTED AS HAVING THE GREATEST 
POTENTIAL FOR URBANIZATION. BETWEEN SONOMA AND NAPA HE CHOSE NAPA 
BECAUSE IT HAD MORE PREMIUM WINERIES THAN SONOMA. ORIGINALLY THE 
ST. HELENA WINERY WAS BUILT WITH THE IDEA OF PRODUCING THE DRY WINE 
THERE AND SHIPPING IT TO KINGSBURG FOR BOTTLING. WE DID THIS FOR A 
WHILE BUT IN A FEW YEARS DID BOTH PRODUCTION AND BOTTLING IN ST. 
HELENA. 



116 



DURING THE SEVEN YEARS THAT WE HAD BOTH PLANTS, I WAS IN HIGH 
SCHOOL AND COLLEGE. I SPENT MOST OF MY VACATIONS DOING ALL SORTS 
OF THINGS IN THE WINERY. I THINK THAT AT ONE TIME OR ANOTHER I 
UNDERTOOK ALMOST EVERY JOB EXCEPT RUNNING THE STILL. MY DAD NEVER 
LET ME DO THAT. 

IT WAS ABOUT THIS TIME THAT I WAS IN THE FOOD TECH. (THEN CALLED 
FRUIT PRODUCTS) CLASS AT BERKELEY FROM WHICH IMMERGED 5 STUDENTS 
WHO SOMETIME LATER WERE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE PRODUCTION OF OVER 70% 
OF CALIFORNIA WINES. THE OTHERS IN THE SAME CLASS WERE CHARLIE 

I 

CRAWFORD, ZfEV HALPERIN, MYRON NIGHTINGALE, AND ARAM OHANASIAN. 

* 

PROFESSORS CRUESS, 3OS/LYN, MARSH, MRAK AND VAUGHN WORKED US HARD 
BUT WE HAD FUN TOO. I'LL ALWAYS REMEMBER THE FIELD TRIPS TO VARIOUS 
FOOD PROCESSING PLANTS, INCLUDING WINERIES AND BREWERIES. LIKEWISE 
THE EVENING PICNICS AT THE CRUESS 1 HOSTED BY HIS CHARMING WIFE, MARIE, 
WERE ALWAYS A DELIGHT. I RECALL ONE OF THESE PICNICS WHEN I WAS 
GIVEN THE ASSIGNMENT OF MAKING THE PUNCH. THEY SHOWED ME A SHELF 
FULL OF DISCARDED EXPERIMENTAL FRUIT 3UICES AND SAID THAT THESE AND 
A BAG OF CITRJC ACID WERE TO BE MY INGREDIENTS. LITTLE DID I SUSPECT 
THAT I HAD 3UST STARTED A LIFETIME OF BLENDING. THAT WAS ALSO MY 
LAST YEAR AT BERKELEY - THE NEXT YEAR I SPENT AT DAVIS. 

IN 19W WE SOLD THE KINGSBURG PLANT AND MOVED TO ST. HELENA. 
ONE YEAR LATER I FINISHED COLLEGE AND JOINED THE WINERY OPERATION 
WITH BOTH FEET. WE WERE DOING ABOUT 10,000 CASES A YEAR THEN, A 
BONAFIDE BOUTIQUE. IT HAD TAKEN US 8 YEARS TO GET TO THAT VOLUME. 



117 

1 
OUR FACILITIES WERE PRETTY PRIMITIVE AND ANYTHING BUT SANITARY. 

WE FERMENTED OUR REDS IN TWO OPEN TOPPED 2,600 GALLON REDWOOD 
TANKS. COOLING WAS DONE BY PUMPING OVER THROUGH A HEAT EXCHANGER. 
IF WE DIDN'T NEED TO COOL, WE'D STAND ON A 2 X 12 AND PUNCH THE CAP 
DOWN WITH A 2 X 4. THERE WAS NO OSHA THEN. FOR A COOLING MEDIA WE 
USED TOWER WATER AND ON HOT OR HUMID DAYS WE'D HAVE TO BUY ICE BY 
THE TRUCK LOAD AND PASS THE WATER THROUGH IT. MANY EVENINGS WE'D 
WORK UNTIL THE WEE HOURS OF THE MORNING BREAKING UP ICE AND TOSSING 
IT INTO A SUMP. 

A FEW YEARS AFTER BUILDING THE ST. HELENA WINERY WE PURCHASED 
A COUPLE HUNDRED ACRES OF VINEYARDS. IF WINERY OPERATIONS SOUNDED 
PRIMITIVE YOU SHOULD HAVE SEEN THE VINEYARDS. THE ENTIRE 200 ACRES 
WAS PLOWED BY HORSES AND HAND HOED. OF COURSE WE WERE PICKING IN 
BOXES AND DUE TO THE MOUNTAIN TERRAIN AND DISTANCE FROM THE WINERY 
EACH BOX WAS HANDLED 9 TIMES IN THE COURSE OF A ROUND TRIP. HORSES 
WERE CONTINUED TO BE USED UNTIL THE LATE '40s. BULK HANDLING OF 
GRAPES STARTED IN THE LATE '50s. 

MY TENURE IN THE WINERY IN 1941 WAS ONLY SIX MONTHS LONG AS I 
ENLISTED IN THE SERVICE AFTER PEARL HARBOR AND WAS AWAY FOR FOUR 
YEARS. WHEN I RETURNED THINGS HADN'T CHANGED MUCH. 

EARLY IN 1942 I WAS DRIVING TO DENVER FOR A CHANGE IN ASSIGNMENT 
WHEN I STOPPED AT DAVIS TO SAY HELLO TO MY FORMER PROFj DR. AMERINE. 
IT WAS ABOUT 8:00 O'CLOCK AT NIGHT AND I FOUND DR. AMERINE AND FRANK 
SCHOON MAKER SEATED AT THE DINING ROOM TABLE WITH A DOZEN OPEN 
BOTTLES OF EXOTIC FOREIGN WINES. IT SEEMED THAT DR. AMERINE HAD JUST 
RECEIVED HIS ORDERS TO REPORT FOR MILITARY DUTY AND THEY WERE 



5 
118 

ENJOYING THE WINES FROM MAYNARD'S CELLAR THAT PROBABLY WOULD NOT 
LAST UNTIL HIS RETURN. AFTER A COUPLE OF HOURS WITH THEM THE LONG 
DRIVE TO DENVER WAS A BREEZE. 

MY FIRST VINTAGE AFTER THE WAR REALLY GOT ME OFF ON THE RIGHT 
FOOT. DURING THE HARVEST SEASON WE HAD A VISIT BY A MEDICAL GROUP 
INTERESTED IN WINE. ONE OF THEM SLIPPED AND FELL INTO A SUMP OF 
FERMENTING RED JUICE. FORTUNATELY ONLY HIS DIGNITY WAS INJURED. 

IN 1950 CHARLIE HOLDEN, THEN WITH PERALTA WINERY, DROPPED BY 
THE WINERY AND TOLD ME ABOUT A SCIENTIFIC SOCIETY FOR ENOLOGISTS 
THAT HE AND SEVERAL OTHERS WERE THINKING ABOUT STARTING. I RECALL 
HE SAID THAT THE PURPOSE OF THE SOCIETY WAS TO IMPROVE THE PRO 
FESSIONAL STATUS OF THE ENOLOGIST, TAKE OVER THE SUMMER U.C.D. CON 
FERENCE ON ENOLOGY AND VITICULTURE, AND PUBLISH THE PROCEEDINGS OF 

&n&+ence . 

THE 9S3E"P. I CANNOT RECALL IF THE EVENTUAL PUBLICATION OF A 
QUARTERLY JOURNAL WAS DISCUSSED. THAT MAY HAVE COME LATER. ENOL- 
OGICAL AND VITICULTURAL LITERATURE WAS BEING PUBLISHED IN SUCH A 
WIDE VARIETY OF JOURNALS THAT IT SOON BECAME APPARENT A JOURNAL 
OF OUR OWN WAS NEEDED. 

THE BIRTHPLACE OF THE SOCIETY WAS THE WOLFE HOTEL IN STOCKTON 
WHERE I CAN WELL REMEMBER MANY LONG AND ARGUMENTATIVE NIGHTS 
FOLLOWED BY A FOGGY DRIVE HOME ALONG THE RIVER ROAD. 

IN 1955 I BECAME THE VICE-PRESIDENT AND IT WAS MY JOB TO PUT ON 
THE CONFERENCE. I THOUGHT IT TIME TO LEAVE THE SECURITY OF THE DAVIS 
CAMPUS AND FIND SOMEPLACE WHERE WE COULD BRING OUR WIVES AND 
FAMILIES. THE BOARD AGREED AND INSTRUCTED ME TO FIND A SITE, A FRIEND 
TOLD ME ASILOMAR WAS SUCH A SITE SO I INVESTIGATED IT. IT WAS IDEAL 



119 



FOR OUR FLEDGING SOCIETY. IT HAD GOOD CONFERENCE FACILITIES, NICE 
ROOMS, A NEARBY BEACH AND IT WAS RELATIVELY INEXPENSIVE. HOWEVER, 
NO ONE TOLD ME THAT ASILOMAR WAS IN PACIFIC GROVE AND PACIFIC GROVE 
WAS DRY. NOR DID THEY TELL ME THAT ALONG WITH US WOULD BE A 
TEMPERENCE GROUP HAVING A CONFERENCE. I DISCOVERD ALL THIS WHEN I 
TRIED TO ARRANGE THE BANQUET AND WINES FOR THE LUNCHES. IMAGINE 
MY EMBARRASSMENT, IT WAS TO LATE TO PULL OUT. SO WE HELD THE BANQUET 
AT THE SPINDRIFT AND ATE OUR LUNCHES WITHOUT WINE. THE SOCIETY MUST 
NOT HAVE CONSIDERED THE SITUATION INTOLERABLE AS THEY RETURNED TWO 
YEARS LATER. 

AFTER THAT THE CONFERENCE STARTED HUMPING AROUND THE STATE 
QUITE A BIT. FROM SAN DIEGO TO TAHOE AND MORE RECENTLY EVEN LAS 
VEGAS. IN THOSE EARLY DAYS WE ALWAYS HAD A BANQUET SPEAKER. SOME 
WERE GOOD BUT AFTER THE DINNER AND WINES IT WAS VERY DIFFICULT TO 
RETAIN AN AUDIENCEJS A T T " T > " - 

ONE OF THE BETTER ONES I THOUGHT WAS BERN RAMEY'S "THE WINESAP 
IS NOT NECESSARILY AN APPLE" DELIVERED WITH HIS USUAL GOOD HUMOR. I 
ALSO RECALL MY DAD'S SPEECH RELATING SOME OF HIS EXPERIENCES DURING 
PROHIBITION. IN ONE PASSAGE HE DESCRIBED 1918 AS A PARTICULARLY 
DISASTROUS YEAR FOR HIM, HE SAID "I LOST MY JOB, CONTRACTED DOUBLE 
PNEUMONIA, AND LOUIS WAS BORN." 

ONE INDIVIDUAL THAT I THINK DESERVES A LOT OF CREDIT FOR THE 

ZtfV 

SUCCESS OF THE SOCIETY IN ITS EARLY YEARS IS ZiSA HALPERIN. WHEN HE 

WAS APPOINTED BUSINESS MANAGER HE TOOK A SOCIETY THAT WAS FINAN 
CIALLY STRUGGLING AND MADE IT SOLVENT. HE DID IT BY A LOT OF HARD 
WORK IN GETTING ADS AND INDUSTRIAL AFFILIATES. THESE ORIGINAL EIGHT 
I.A.'s IN 1956 REALLY HELPED. NOW THERE ARE 99. 



120 



IN WINE PRODUCTION ONE COULD SEE SOME DEFINITE SIGNS OF THE 
FUTURE. STAINLESS STARTED BEING MORE WIDELY USED BOTH FOR TANKS 
AND EQUIPMENT. JACKETED FERMENTERS WERE BEGINNING TO SHOW UP. I 
HAVE SEEN IT WRITTEN THAT THIS WAS THE START OF TEMPERATURE CON 
TROLLED FERMENTATIONS. THIS IS NOT TRUE. MOST WINERIES WERE CONTROL 
LING FERMENTATION TEMPERATURES SINCE THE '30s. THE NEW TANKS JUST 
MADE IT EASIER. 

IN THE '50s SALES WERE NOT TOO BRISK SO THE PLANTING OF PREMIUM 
WINE GRAPES SLOWED DOWN. GROWERS WERE BECOMING AWARE OF CLIMATIC 
REGIONS AND SOIL TYPES. IT HAD BEEN 10 YEARS SINCE AMERINE AND WINKLER 
PUBLISHED ON THIS AND SOME OF THEIR RECOMMENDATIONS WERE STARTING 
TO BEAR FRUIT. THIS CONTINUED ON A FAIRLY EVEN KEEL INTO THE '60s. 
HOWEVER, IN THE SECOND HALF OF THE 1960 DECADE THE DAM BURST. THE 
DEMAND FOR FINE WINES WAS EXPANDING SO RAPIDLY THAT A GRAPE PLANT 
ING BOOM STARTED. LOTS OF NEW MONEY STARTED COMING INTO THE 

$ijy 

INDUSTRY AND*ffS3Fffi FORGOT ABOUT AMERINE AND WINKLER. CABERNET 
SAUVIGNON AND PINOT NOIR WERE BEING PLANTED SIDE BY SIDE ON MOUNTAIN 
TOPS AND RIVER BOTTOMS, IN REGIONS I, II, III, IV AND PROBABLY EVEN V. 
HOW MUCH BETTER OFF WE WOULD NOW BE IF A LITTLE MORE THOUGHT HAD 
GONE INTO SOME OF THESE PLANTINGS. THE REST IS HISTORY YOU ALL KNOW. 
WAS THIS SUDDEN ACTIVITY IN GRAPE GROWING GOOD OR BAD FOR THE 
INDUSTRY? IN THE SHORT TERM I THINK IT WAS PROBABLY BAD. IT CREATED 
A HARDSHIP ON THE BONAFIDE FARMER EARNING HIS LIVELIHOOD GROWING 
GRAPES AND DEPRESSED PRICES DUE TO OVERPRODUCTION. IN THE LONG 
RUN IT IS PROBABLY GOOD. IT HAS OPENED UP NEW GROWING AREAS, 



121 



8 



CONVERTED FARM LAND FROM OTHER CROPS TO GRAPES, GAVE THE WINE- 
MAKER A LARGER SELECTION OF EACH VARIETY AND HAS GENERALLY UP 
GRADED THE QUALITY OF STANDARD WINES AND GAVE US A LARGER QUANTITY 
OF QUALITY PREMIUM WINES. THE VITICULTURAL ERRORS WILL EVENTUALLY 
IRON THEMSELVES OUT. 

I'M OFTEN ASKED WHAT I THINK ABOUT BOUTIQUE WINERIES AND WHAT 
IS THEIR EFFECT ON THE ESTABLISHED WINERIES? MY THOUGHT ON BOUTIQUE 
WINERIES IS THAT THEY ARE PRETTY MUCH LIKE OTHER WINERIES. SOME ARE 
TURNING OUT SOME GOOD WINES; SOME ARE TURNING OUT SOME GOOD PRESS; 
SOME ARE DOING BOTH; AND SOME ARE DOING NEITHER. THEIR EFFECT ON 
THE ESTABLISHED WINERIES HAS BEEN PRIMARILY ONE OF DILUTION. THEY 
TAKE UP SHELF SPACE, THEY TAKE UP SPACE ON WINE LISTS, AND THEY TAKE 
UP COLUMN INCHES. THEY HAVE CREATED MORE INTEREST IN GOOD WINES 
AND HAVE RAISED THE CONSUMER CEILING ON WINE PRICES. THEIR PRICING 
POLICIES AND GROWTH WILL BE INTERESTING TO MONITOR. IT WILL BE INTER 
ESTING TO SEE WHERE THE POINT OF SATURATION IS. 

OF MORE CONCERN TO ME ARE THE MADISON AVENUE TACTICS USED IN 
OTHER BUSINESSES THAT HAVE BECOME A PART OF THE WINE BUSINESS. IT 
MAY CREATE QUICK GAINS FOR THE GREEDY BUT CERTAINLY MAKES THE 
ENTIRE INDUSTRY A MUCH LESS PLEASANT ATMOSPHERE TO LIVE UNDER. 
PERHAPS IN THE LONG RUN THERE IS NO NEED TO WORRY BECAUSE THESE 
ARE THE SAME PEOPLE THAT WILL DESERT THE INDUSTRY FOR MORE LUCRATIVE 
FIELDS. 

WHAT DO I THINK OF THE FUTURE? LIKE EVERYONE ELSE I THINK IT IS 
PRACTICALLY UNLIMITED. DEMAND IS BOUND TO INCREASE. WE NEED TO 



122 



TURN OUT A GOOD SOUND PRODUCT AT A FAIR PRICE AND THE COUNTRY IS 
READY TO ACCEPT IT. NEW WINE DRINKERS WILL BE CREATED AND CURRENT 
WINE DRINKERS WILL UPGRADE. I LOOK FOR THE PER CAPITA CONSUMPTION 
TO DOUBLE IN THE NEXT 10 YEARS. TO KEEP OUR SHARE OF THIS MARKET 
WE MUST PRODUCE MORE SOUND PALATABLE RED WINES AT LOWER PRICES 
AND LESS MEDIOCRE WINES AT VERY HIGH PRICES. IF THERE IS A FIVE DOLLAR 
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN TWO BOTTLES OF WINE THERE SHOULD BE PROPORTION 
ATE DIFFERENCE IN QUALITY. IF THERE ISN'T WE WILL EVENTUALLY LOSE 
COMSUMER CREDITABILITY. 

I BELIEVE THE FOREIGN MARKET WILL SLOWLY DEVELOP INTO A SIGNIFI 
CANT VOLUME IN THE NEXT 10 YEARS. WITH THE INTEREST AND HELP OF 
OUR GOVERNMENT, FOREIGN COUNTRIES MAY WELL REALIZE THAT EXCESSIVELY 
RESTRICTIVE TRADE BARRIERS MAY BE COUNTER PRODUCTIVE. I AM CONFI 
DENT WE COULD CAPTURE A RESPECTABLE VOLUME OF THAT MARKET IF GIVEN 
THE TIME AND OPPORTUNITY. 

'. f CALIFOR NtA HAS BEEN PRODUCING MANY VERY GOOD WINES, MANY AT 
REASONABLE PRICES. SHE WILL PRODUCE MORE. WHEN THE CONSUMER, BOTH 
HERE AND ABROAD, REALLY DISCOVERS THEM WITH HIS OWN PALATE INSTEAD 
OF DEPENDING UPON THE OPINIONS OF OTHERS - LOOK OUT! THERE WON'T 
BE ENOUGH GRAPE LAND AVAILABLE TO SUPPLY THE DEMAND. 

IN CLOSING I WOULD LIKE TO SAY THAT THIS IS A GREAT INDUSTRY WITH 
GREAT PEOPLE IN IT. I AM HAPPY I CHOSE IT AS A CAREER. IT HAS TREATED 
ME WELL, I AM ALSO HAPPY SOME OF OUR CHILDREN HAVE CHOSEN IT AS A 
CAREER AND I'M CONFIDENT IT WILL TREAT THEM WELL TOO. KSMEMBER OfcQ- 

yb ^-f^ 



- -TmS=JUST DROP THEIR. COLOR, 



TT1AMK YOU1 



INDEX Louis P. Martini 



123 



A xR#l rootstock, 72 

Almaden Vineyards, 35, 38, 105 

American Society of Enologists, 94-98, 

99 

Amerine, Maynard A., 17-20, 22 
asbestos, 53 



Beaulieu Vineyard, 36, 38, 39, 43, 

61, 109 

Beringer Vineyards, 22, 38, 43 
Bird, Rose, 104 
blending, 27-29, 44, 45, 64, 77-78, 

85-86 
Boragni, Assunta. See Martini, Mrs. 

Louis M. 

Boragni family, 1-3 
Boragni, Peter, grandfather of Louis 

P. Martini, 1, 2, 3 
bottle aging, 55 
bottling, 13, 58 
brandy, 9, 10-11 

Brotherhood Corporation winery, 6-7 
Brown, Edmund G. , Jr. , 103, 104 



Carneros district, 35, 36, 47, 60-61, 

62, 63, 82 

Cella Vineyards, 22 
Central California Wineries, Inc., 3 
Chappelet, Bonn, 47 
Chiles Valley vineyard, 28, 70 
Christian Brothers winery, 22, 38, 

43, 61, 80 
clonal selection, 20-24, 56, 61, 62, 

82-83 

cold fermentation, 52-53 
Conn Lake , 13 
cooperage, 54-55 
Crawford, Charles, 22 
Cruess, William V. 15, 16-17, 25 



Daniel, John, Jr., 40-41, 43, 

106 

de Latour, Georges, 39, 43 
De Luca, John, 99, 100-101, 105 
DeMattei, William, 16 
Deuer, George, 43 
Di Giorgio, Joseph, 2 
Dixon, Julie Chapman, 106-107 
drip irrigation, 70 



Edge Hill Farms, 36, 83-84 



fermentation, 51-53, 54, 56 

filtration, 53 

Finger Lakes district, New York, 

43, 44 
flor process for sherry, 18, 

34-35 

Flora Springs [Wine Co.], 11, 33 
Foley, F.Y. , 6 
Foremost and McKesson, 78-79 
Fromm and Sichel, 80 
frost protection, 68-69, 75 



Gallagher, John, 79-80 
Gallo, E. & J. winery, 22 
Glen Oak vineyard, 36, 64, 69 
grape concentrate , 9 
Greystone Cellars, 12 



Halperin, Ze'ev, 22 
Healdsburg vineyard. See 

Los Vinedos del Rio vineyard 
Heitz, Joseph, 62-101 
Herdell Printing, 89-90 
Heublein Inc. , 105 
Holden, Charles (Charlie), 94 



124 



Inglenook Vineyards, 38, 39, 43, 

61, 62, 82 
irrigation, 75-76 
Italian Swiss Colony, 6, 39, 105 



Joslyn, Maynard A., 18, 19-20 



Komes , Jerry , 11 

kosher wines, 8, 9 

Krug, Charles, winery, 12, 38, 
109 



La Loma vineyard (Stanly Ranch) , 

3, 63, 69, 75, 84, 89 
Las Amigas vineyard, 36, 63, 

69, 70 

labelling laws, 28, 29 
labels, 86-87, 89-90 
Lake County vineyard, 69-71, 

72, 75 
Los Vinedos del Rio vineyard, 

36, 50, 60, 68-69 
Liquor Barn, 81 



Marsh, George L. , 18 

Martini, Agostino, grandfather of 

Louis P. Martini, 4 
Martini, Assunta Boragni 

(Mrs. Louis M.), 1-2 
Martini, Carolyn, 84, 86 
Martini, Elizabeth Martinelli 

(Mrs. Louis P.), 25, 36, 84 
Martini, L.M. Grape Products Company, 

Kingsburg, 2-11, 12, 13, 16, 

33, 35 
Martini, Louis M. , father of Louis 

P. Martini, passim 
Martini, Louis M. , winery, St. Helena, 

passim 
Martini, Michael, 29, 45, 55-56, 77, 

84, 85-86, 87 



Martini, Patricia (Patty), 84, 

86 

Martini, Peter, 84, 86 
Masson, Paul, vineyards, 38 
mechanical harvesting, 67-68, 

73-75, 76 

Menzies, John, 78, 79 
Menzies, Robert (Bob), 79 
Merla, Arturo, 43 
Moffitt, James K. , 12 
Mondavi, C. & Sons, 42, 43 
Mondavi, Peter, 43 
Mondavi, Robert, 42, 43 
Monte Rosso vineyard (Sonoma), 28, 

35, 45, 47, 64, 65, 66, 69, 

70, 75, 82, 84, 89, 106 
Monterey Vineyard, 49 
"mountain" wines, 45-46, 76 
Mrak, Emil M. , 18, 19-20 



Napa Valley, passim 

Napa Valley Technical Group, 39, 

40, 42-43 
Napa Valley Vintners Association, 

40, 106-108 
Napa Valley Wine Technical Group. 

See Napa Valley Technical Group 
Nicholson, Robert A. (Bob), 9 
Nightingale, Myron, 22 
Nobusada, Kiyoshi, 13 



Ohenasian, Aram, 22 

Olmo, Harold P., 21, 61, 66, 82 



Parrott & Co. , 78-81 
Peralta Wine Company, 94 
Perini Ranch, 71 
Peterson, Richard, 49 
phylloxera, 71, 72 
Pope Valley ranch, 70, 71-72 
Prohibition, 5, 6, 8 
prorate, 10-11 
pruning , 68 



125 



Ray, Martin, 61 

redwood, 51-52, 54, 55 

refrigeration, 52, 54 

Regional Water Quality Control Board, 

110 

Rennie Winery, 33 
Rice, A.C. , 98 
Rupestris Saint George rootstock, 72 



sacramental wines, 8-9 
Schoonmaker, Frank, 27, 37-38, 78 
Sierra Wine Company, 34 
Sinton, Silas, 9-10 
Sonoma vineyard. See Monte Rosso 

vineyard 

Stag's Leap vineyards, 42 
Stanly Ranch. See La Loma vineyard 
Sterling vineyards, 66 
Stony Hill Vineyard, 82 
Stralla, Louis E. , 41-42, 106 
sulfur dioxide (S0 2 ) , 8, 57, 73, 74 
Sunny St. Helena Winery, 42 
Suverkrop , Bard , 43 



Wente Bros, winery, 38, 79 

Wente, Eric, 80 

Wente, Karl, 79 

Williamson Act, 111 

Wine Advisory Board, 101-105 

Wine Industry Technical Symposium, 

99 
Wine Institute, 40, 98-101, 102, 

103-105, 106 
Wines & Vines, 99 
Winkler, Albert J. , 18, 19, 20 



tasting, 25-26 

Tchelistcheff , Andre, 39-40, 43, 61 

trellises, 68 

"21" Brands, 37, 78-79 

2-4-D, 19 



United Vintners, 22, 103 
University of California, Berkeley, 

14-15, 18-20, 23, 25 
University of California, Davis, 

17-22, 25,56,66, 82, 83, 87, 94, 

95, 101-102 



Vanderveen, 



13 



126 



Wines mentioned in the Interview 
Barbara, 46, 55, 64 
Beaujolais nouveau, 29 
burgundy, 45, 61, 62, 76, 77 
Burgundy , 60 
Cabernet Sauvignon, 26, 27, 28, 

48, 49, 55, 60, 63, 64, 66, 

67, 77 

chablis, 45, 76, 77 
Chardonnay, 47, 50, 77 
Chenin blanc, 50 
chianti, 77 
claret, 77 

Folle blanche, 49, 65 
Camay , 29 

Gewurtztraminer , 83 
Grignolino , 62 
"Monte Rosso," 28 
Merlot, 63-64 
Moscato Amabile, 59 
"Mountain Red," 76, 77 
"Mountain White," 76 
Pinot noir, 48-49, 60-61, 

64, 77 

Pinot Saint George, 61 
sherry, 18, 33-35 
Sylvaner , 45 , 65 
Zinfandel, 26-27, 45, 46, 

64-65, 89 



Grape Varieties mentioned in 
the Interview 
Alicante Bouschet, 8 
Barbera, 64, 71, 72 
Cabernet Sauvignon, 59-60, 63, 

64, 71, 72 
Carignane , 62 
Carmine, 65-66 
Carnelian, 66 
Chardonnay, 21, 59-60, 63, 

67, 82 

Folle blanche, 59-60, 65 
Camay, 59-60, 64, 72 
Camay Beujolais, 63 
Gewurtztraminer. See also 

Traminer , 59-60, 83 
Grignolino, 62 
Johnannisberg Riesling, 59-60 
Malbec, 67 
Merlot, 63 
Mondeuse, 63 
Petite Sirah, 62, 64, 77 
Pinot blanc, 59-60 
Pinot Chardonnay. See 

Chardonnay 
Pinot noir, 21, 59-60, 61, 63, 

73-74, 82 
Pinot Saint George, 61, 63, 

77 

Riesling, 21, 63, 82, 83 
Sylvaner, 59-60, 65, 83 
Tannat , 63 
Traminer, 63 
Zinfandel, 28-29, 59-60, 61, 

63, 64-65, 66, 77 



- 



Ruth Teiser 



Born in Portland, Oregon; came to the Bay 

Area in 1932 and has lived here ever since. 
Stanford University, B.A. , M.A. in English; 

further graduate work in Western history. 
Newspaper and magazine writer in San Francisco 

since 1943, writing on local history and 

business and social life of the Bay Area. 
Book reviewer for the San Francisco Chronicle, 

1943-1974. 
Co-author of Winemaking in California, a 

history, 1982. 
An interviewer-editor in the Regional Oral 

History Office since 1965.