Louis M. Martini, born in 1887 in Pietra Ligure, Italy, was just 12 years old when he traveled alone to join his father in the USA. Agostino Martini was a fisherman in San Francisco and the young Louis began working alongside his father selling seafood from a cart. Louis first made wine with his father in a small shed behind the family home in 1906. Agostino sent his son back to Italy where Louis studied oenology at the University d'Alba. He returned from Italy in 1911 determined to pursue his passion and make a living as a winemaker.
In 1922, Louis founded the Louis M. Martini Grape Products Company in Kingsburg, California. During the Prohibition era, the company thrived by producing medicinal and sacramental wine, and by also selling boxes of 'Forbidden Fruit' - with the express instructions: "Do not add water, yeast and sugar or fermentation will result." Martini emerged from Prohibition as one of the best winemakers in California and resolved to concentrate all of his efforts on the production of premium table wines. Anticipating the repeal of the Volstead Act, early in 1933 Louis purchased 10 acres south of St. Helena and rushed to get his newly planned winery into operation for the coming vintage.
Convinced of the superiority of mountain grown-grapes, in 1938 Martini purchased the Mt. Pisgah vineyard high on the Sonoma side of the Mayacamas Mountains. He renamed it Monte Rosso for it's bright red volcanic soil. It is from this vineyard that the MQ's elderly bottle of wine originated.
Described by André Tchelistcheff as an "apostle of the California wine industry," Martini was extremely instrumental in fashioning the Napa wine industry as one would recognise it today, in fact he was a true pioneer in a number of ways. It is said that Martini was amongst the first, if not the first, in 1968 to varietally label Merlot and he later championed Zinfandel as a fine wine varietal. In 1944, as a vintner with "arm-twisting powers," he was able to convince 7 other vintners to join him in the founding of the Napa Valley Vintners Association - a cooperative effort to facilitate the exchange of practical wine-related information common to all wineries. Martini was the first to practice temperature controlled fermentation and he is also credited with the invention of the wind machine to combat frost damage. The list goes on...Gallo purchased the Louis M. Martini winery in 2002, but to this day the business remains the oldest, continuously family operated winery in the Napa Valley.
Louis M. Martini died in 1974.