George Martinelli

Martinelli Winery & Vineyards

The Martinelli family has been farming in Sonoma County’s Russian River Valley since 1880, when George Martinelli’s great-grandfather purchased the family’s first vineyard in Forestville. Today, George, his parents and his siblings continue to farm and passionately make wines that proudly bear their family’s name.

George Martinelli of Martinelli Winery & Vineyards grew up in Sonoma County and is a fifth generation Sonoma County farmer on his mother’s side, and fourth on his father’s side. The Martinelli’s started farming winegrapes in 1880 when George’s great-grandfather first purchased and planted a vineyard in Forestville, near the Russian River.

Despite growing up in a multi-generational farming family, George didn’t always want to be in farming. At an early age, he began working out on the farm with a shovel and hoe and quickly realized those long, hot summer days were hard work! It was when George was old enough to drive a tractor that be began to enjoy the farming life. George’s grandfather also played a big role in his continued interest in farming as he was a hard-working, honest man, and always maintained a good sense of humor. His grandfather mainly farmed livestock, but eventually transitioned to vineyards in an area along the north coast.

“I enjoy being outside, feeling and seeing the seasons change, watching and helping things grow, farming. ”

Today, George’s parents and three siblings all own and operate the winery and vineyards together. Although working with family can be difficult at times, they find joy in knowing they are all in it together, using their energy and passion to pass along the land and business to the next generation in the best condition possible. The family grows Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Zinfandel and Syrah in the Russian River and Sonoma Coast AVA’s, along with 75 acres of apples. Martinelli Vineyards & Winery have been certified under the California Code of Sustainable Winegrowing for 5 years. The certification has helped the family understand their inputs and outputs each year. From this data, they have been able to develop new strategies to more efficiently perform their farming and winery practices. It has even helped their employees understand how to handle waste versus recyclable materials, creating conversations that are more conscientious around the products they purchase and how they’re used. Ultimately, everyone is on board with sustainability.

Today, George resides with his wife Gina and their two daughters in Forestville, enjoying life in beautiful Sonoma County.

We asked George a few fun questions!

What would you do if you weren’t farming?

If I couldn’t farm, I’d probably be a real estate agent that sold ag land or a hunting guide.

What is your favorite wine?

Pinot Noir is my wine of choice.

What is your favorite part about farming and why?

I enjoy being outside, feeling and seeing the seasons change, watching and helping things grow; farming.