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Martellotto Wines

Central Coast AVA

Following an Italian winemaking heritage, Greg Martellotto crafts small lots of bold, elegant and approachable wines from some of the best vineyards on California’s Central Coast.

The Martellotto family traces its roots back to a 17th century winery in Alberobello (the place of pretty trees) in southern Italy. Now four centuries later, winemaker Greg Martellotto is continuing his family’s legacy by making vibrant and enticing wines that represent his own passion for the grape. His odyssey as a winemaker first began as a student at Jesuit High School in Dallas, Texas where the young man was naturally drawn to cooking and food, and even produced dinner parties while still a student.

Martellotto (pronounced Mar-tel-la-toe) had always planned to become a medical doctor and his further education took him to California. At Palo Alto’s renowned Stanford University, he received a biology degree and managed a restaurant. The combination of food and wine was simply too inspiring to ignore and the graduate took a three-year world excursion to explore this newfound passion. During his hiatus, he managed to taste many of the world’s great wines and sample a number of the planet’s leading cuisines.

Martellotto was now 27 years old, and the prospect of medical school seemed implausible. He turned instead to the wine industry and concentrated his efforts in establishing a wine entity that covered his varying expertise. The resultant company, Martellotto Wines, is this month’s Gold Wine Club feature.

Martellotto Wines first saw the light of day in 2005 with a limited release of only 2,000 cases. It has since grown to around 6,000 cases with the prospect of becoming a good deal larger in the future. Greg Martellotto is also the main winemaker for his operation and credits his degrees in biology and chemistry for helping him achieve such excellent results in his wines. He recently opened an innovative winery facility in Buellton, California (Santa Barbara County) that offers state-of-the-art winemaking equipment and an inviting tasting room that allows visitors more accessibility to his wines.

When sourcing fruit, Greg Martellotto looks to the best American Viticultural Areas (AVA’s) that Santa Barbara County has to offer. From Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara, Sta. Rita Hills, Santa Ynez Valley, and Santa Maria Valley, Greg feels blessed to have access to such world-class winegrowing regions and takes extra care when selecting vineyards to work with. He also understands the importance of being a responsible winemaker and institutes sustainable winemaking practices and processes whenever possible. It’s clear that Greg’s passion is about sharing wines that are not mass-produced, but rather, hand-crafted with care, each bottle at a time.

Greg has also maintained the ties with his old Jesuit education. Profits from the sales of some of Martellotto’s wines go directly to a charity project called “Learn Belize” that benefits an elementary school in Dangriga, Belize’s third largest city. It is a rewarding experience and Greg is proud to be a part of it.

The outlook seems extremely bright for Greg Martellotto and his portfolio of fine wines. He brings a unique approach and great vitality to a traditional and time honored business. It is a pleasure to share his wines with our Gold Wine Club members. Enjoy!

Map of the area

Santa Barbara County

Picture of Santa Barbara County

Located on the southern end of the Central Coast appellation, Santa Barbara County is nestled about 90 miles northwest of Los Angeles, California. What helps make this wine growing region so unique is the transverse mountain ranges that run east to west - unlike the rest of California where the mountains are parallel to the coastline, running north to south. This topographical feature creates wind tunnels, which enable cool air to flow from the Pacific Ocean into the valleys of Santa Barbara County, keeping the temperatures moderate during the day and cool at night. The proximity to the ocean also creates morning fog that cools and protects the grapes in the vineyards, which leads to extremely long growing seasons. However, as you travel further inland, there are much warmer pockets that are well-suited to Bordeaux-style grapes. There is a great variety of microclimates and soils throughout Santa Barbara County, and thus a wonderful diversity of wine grapes can thrive here. Today, about 200 wineries call Santa Barbara County home and nearly 30,000 acres of vines are planted.

This month’s Gold Wine Club featured wines both nicely represent the Santa Barbara County growing region, and specifically the Santa Ynez Valley, which is one of the most diverse grape-growing regions in the county. While Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are ideally suited to the western edges of the Valley, thirty miles inland at Happy Canyon, the climate is sunny and hot which is perfect for Bordeaux varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.

Established as an AVA (American Viticultural Area) in 1983, the Santa Ynez Valley is also a beautifully scenic area. With rolling hills, endless vines, and patches of ancient oak trees, it’s no wonder the region became a star in the 2004 hit movie, Sideways. It has become a popular wine country destination with quaint towns, imaginative restaurants steeped in the farm-to-table movement, and plenty of family friendly activities.

Greg Martellotto & Mike Roth - Winemakers

Picture of Greg Martellotto & Mike Roth - Winemakers

As many one-man winery operations, Greg Martellotto serves as his company’s winemaker. He also uses consulting winemaker Mike Roth whose resume is legendary along the Central Coast.

Roth worked for both Mike Grgich (Grgich Hills Estate) and Nils Venge (Saddleback Cellars/Venge Vineyards) in Napa Valley before heading south to Santa Barbara County more than fifteen years ago. His Central Coast experience includes the likes of Demetria Estate Winery (considered among the best wineries in the county), Koehler Winery, and a number of other quality wineries including Martian Ranch and Vineyard. Roth’s wines have always achieved superior scores and numerous accolades for his efforts. He has recently planted his first vineyards and launched his own label, Lo-Fi Wines, with a lifelong friend.

Greg Martellotto - A True Renaissance Man

Picture of Greg Martellotto - A True Renaissance Man

Greg Martellotto fancies himself as something of a true renaissance man. He has managed to travel extensively during his formative years and he has put what he has observed to excellent use in his current business.

“My wine business has many different aspects,” he observed. “I deal in the highest quality wines from Europe and California and also with some basic wines that I produce for international customers. It’s all part of this wine business concept that I have developed throughout the years.”

The Dallas native is not at all surprised that his efforts have been successful. “Success in the wine business is relative. Where I used to live in San Francisco, you can find a number of 30-year-old-billionaires. For my part, the wine business has been one long struggle just to survive, and for that I am most thankful. It has taught me a number of life lessons and I won’t forget them.”

He also calls his decision to locate in Santa Barbara County one of the smartest decisions he has ever made. “I had all these wonderful connections in Santa Barbara so I hoped they would be put to good use in making better wines. That’s the secret, making your wines better as you go along.”

Martellotto has always been drawn to the wine and food culture and admits it has had a hand in sculpting his life. “I’ve always been concerned about exactly what goes into food and wine. I’ve been on the edge of biodynamic farming for some time and I intend to continue in that direction. I want to one day be able to plant a small vineyard of my own to allow me to produce some estate wines. I will then feel I have come the full circle with my dreams.”

Greg Martellotto is also the main winemaker for his operation and credits his degrees in biology and chemistry for helping him produce such excellent results in his wines. He travels between San Diego and Buellton and is present whenever his grapes are harvested and during any bottling process. “Those times are absolutely critical and I wouldn’t want to miss any of them for any reason. It is too important to our end product to miss being there in person.”

Greg has also maintained the ties with his old Jesuit education. He has become close with Fr. Jeff Dillon, S.J., his old principal at Jesuit High School in Dallas. Dillon is now active in the San Francisco area and has founded a charity project called Learn Belize (, that operates a school (Sacred Heart Elementary School) in Belize’s third largest city of Dangriga.

Profits from the sales of some of Martellotto’s wines go directly to the charity, which enables the school to buy supplies, books and technology. “It’s a great project,” informed Martellotto. “It has practically no overhead, so the money goes directly to the school and the children. It has been quite rewarding to have been involved to this point.”

The future seems extremely bright for Greg Martellotto and his portfolio of fine wines. He is enthusiastic about his new winery site in Buellton, and the ability to finally have a tasting facility to be able to showcase his wine portfolio. He has survived the perilous time that accompanied the recession years back, and he is planning on his own vineyards for the foreseeable future.

There should be more individuals like Greg Martellotto in the wine business. He brings a unique approach and great vitality to a traditional and time honored business. You will definitely hear more of him in the future.