Freud once observed that we all have an ideal family in mind, some superior group to which we'd like to belong; he called such a fantasy a "family romance." Though it sounds more like a Disney movie than a psychoanalytic theory, I have a pretty good idea of what Freud was thinkingespecially after spending a few days with the Martinellis, a winemaking family in Sonoma, California.
The Martinellis were grape growers long before they decided to make winefor more than a century, in fact. Though Giuseppe Martinelli arrived in Sonoma's Russian River Valley in the late 1880s, it wasn't until the late 1980s that the family produced its first wine. Considering that the Martinellis own some of Sonoma's best vineyardsnot to mention what seems like most of its land (they say "around 2,000 acres")it is hard to believe that they waited so long.
Martinelli Zinfandels and Chardonnays as well as Gewürztraminers, Syrahs and Pinot Noirs have received top marks from wine critic Robert M. Parker, Jr., and are considered some of the best in Sonoma, if not in all of California. Many are available by mailing list only, and certain wines, such as the Jackass Hill Zinfandel, have a waiting list of those hoping to buy a bottle or two. With recognition like that, didn't the Martinellis wish they had entered the game perhaps a bit sooner? Not really, Lee Martinelli replied; they'd mostly just wanted to take care of the land.