Napa Valley AVA
A formidable new winery that rivals many outstanding wineries in the Napa Valley
The owners still consider themselves as farmers from Texas, but their penchant for making world-class wines have turned numerous heads among the Napa Valley wine industry. Formerly from McAllen, Texas in the state’s wondrous Rio Grande Valley, the Martin Family has developed a winery that seems destined for grape greatness.
The Martins have always been passionate about wine and had made their Texas farmland into one of the state’s finest produce farms that covered more than seven thousand acres. “We knew we were good farmers, and we wanted to get into the winery business,” informed Taylor Martin, general manager of the now eighteen month-old Italics winery. “The only question was where to locate our operation.”
The family’s first move into the wine business was acquiring Napa’s prestigious Appellations series of wines in 2014. The brand was unique in that it honored all of the sub-regions of Napa Valley and the wines were world-class. Taylor’s father, Mike Martin, had been a collector of these fine wines for years and ultimately purchased the brand from winemaker Steve Reynolds (of renowned Reynolds Family Winery fame). When the brand was originally conceived in 2002, Napa had thirteen AVA’s, a number that finally grew to sixteen with the addition of Coombsville in 2012. Today, the Appellations wines live within the Italics portfolio as an important expression of the Martin family’s mission: to highlight places that truly have something to say.
While searching for a vineyard for the Appellations series, Mike happened upon a special property on the eastern edge of the Vaca Mountains, specifically located within the Coombsville AVA. It was exactly what the Martins were looking for, and after some rehabilitating, it become the home for the family’s new winery project: Italics Winegrowers.
In retrospect, the Coombsville AVA is something of a late-comer to the Napa Valley stable of great growing areas. Formerly disregarded as too cool a growing site for Cabernet Sauvignon, the area is actually surrounded by a partially collapsed caldera, the remnant of a fractured volcanic vent. The caldera’s half-bowl reaches some 1,800 feet in elevation and collects cool marine air from nearby San Pablo Bay.
“This is a contributing factor to our long, slow growing season,” Taylor Martin explained. “The net of this is that grapes can hang longer without dehydrating while retaining their natural acidity. The wine that results is fresh, dark and rich without being over the top.”
The ensuing winery that is now known as Italics Winegrowers is truly something to behold. With the help of neighbor and winemaker Steve Reynolds, who has been involved with Italics wine since its inception, Italics Winegrowers has grown into a formidable new winery that rivals many outstanding wineries in the Napa Valley. Included is a 16,000 square foot cave that holds the company’s barrel aging facility, as well as a tasting room that greets the growing number of Italics devotees.
“With us, it’s all about developing relationships with our customers,” Taylor Martin added. “We want our wines to speak for themselves. We are focused on having great rapports with our customers.”
And as for the name of the winery? “After great discussion, we decided to call the winery Italics. Italics show you something worth paying attention to, and we wanted our wines to be so good that everyone had to pay attention to them,” explained Taylor Martin.
With a tiny release of only 350 cases in its beginning, Italics has grown to around 2,500 cases per year. The immediate goal is to fill around 4,500 cases with demand from within, a detail that Italics hopes to fulfill within the next few years.
Particular emphasis has been placed on the winegrowing end of its business, an aspect that comes naturally to the Martin family with its long and extremely successful history in the Texas produce business.
“We are proud of what we have accomplished in the short time of our existence,” finalized Taylor Martin. “We feel we are quite unique even down to our labeling. Our labels are printed on 118# stock and embossed and must be applied by hand. It is quite expensive, but perfectly expresses our product: rich, refined, and classic. The label makes a statement and our wine backs it up.”
Italics also relies on solar power as an energy base and was among the first wineries in Napa Valley to utilize the valley’s new recycled water project. Kudos to the Martin family who has embraced such a philosophy.
We are proud to feature and introduce Italics Winegrowers to our Platinum Wine Club members.
Map of the area
Dear Platinum Wine Club Members,
There’s a good chance this is the first time you’ve seen a bottle of Italics, and there’s a good reason for that; we’re new, really new. We opened last year, and it’s pretty hard to believe how far we’ve come in 16 months. For a young winery, there’s a lot more to our story than what the eye can see in our little slice of Coombsville. We’re newcomers to Napa and Texan through and through, with a little bit of North Carolina sprinkled in for good measure. For four generations we made a name for ourselves where it mattered; in the field. Before winegrowing, we made a name for ourselves farming the Ruby Red grapefruit and the 1015 onion in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley. Our family mantra was pretty simple; take care of business in the field, stay genuine, and treat your clients like family. My great grandfather said that if we did that, generally the rest takes care of itself, and it did. Winegrowing was always a dream, something we said that we’d love to do if we ever got the chance. It lived as a dream for a generation, but then seemingly out of nowhere came winemaker Steve Reynolds and the opportunity of a lifetime.
Coombsville may be Napa’s newest AVA, but this slice of wine country has a long and curious history. For decades, the lack of water and unforgiving volcanic soils steered the community towards horse ranching instead of winegrowing. Our estate is situated on the northwest corner of the caldera that frames the appellation. With over 300 feet of elevation change, three distinct soil types, and a truly unique terroir we knew immediately that this was the place. A microcosm of the AVA as a whole, the estate was a sleeping giant. 16,000 square feet of caves lay unfinished, wells were heavily stressed by drought, and a beautiful estate home with unlimited potential lay dormant and dilapidated. Where everyone else saw problems, we saw promise. This property had exactly what we needed, a world class vineyard. That spoke to us.
Our 2014 Proprietary Red Wine is blended to be an introduction to our estate wines that tells a unique tale of new and old. Our 73-acre estate features two very different vineyards, both about fifteen acres each. One is old and weathered, aged by the Coombsville winds and terroir to produce robust tannins, deep violet coloration and outstanding structure. Steve’s old world winemaking style helps italicize its’ soft mouthfeel and rich fruit flavors. The other blocks are young, but bolstered by modern planting techniques, meticulously paired rootstock and clones, state of the art vineyard preparation techniques and years of diligent care. The 2014 Proprietary Red Wine features the inaugural vintage harvested from these young vines. They’re wonderfully vibrant and bring great balance to the blend. Our vines grow fruit with horsepower, and this wine is a great introduction to them. They have a lot more to say, and we’re looking forward to sharing their story with you.
Managing Partner – Italics Winegrowers