Rootstock in Winters – a small town with a big story.
In 1969 Ernest (Ernie) Peninou, a winemaker, historian and writer from San Francisco and Dan Martinez, a first generation farmer born of Spanish immigrants, partnered to form a grapevine nursery business in Winters, CA. Yolo Hills Viticultural Society, as the business was known then, propagated and sold grapevine rootstock sourced from nearby UC Davis to vineyard owners in the rapidly growing Napa and Sonoma wine country. Ernie eventually retired and sold his interest in the business to Dan who continued to grow the nursery business under his Martinez Orchards farming operation.
The vineyards of Berryessa Gap are planted with rootstock grown exclusively by Martinez Orchards in Winters, CA.
Ernie and Dan met through Ernie’s work as a fruit inspector at the California Fruit Exchange where Dan was selling his apricots. Ernie was looking for a farming partner to grow disease resistant rootstock he could market to sell in Napa and Sonoma. The year was 1969, when Napa had about 20 wineries.