THE PINTCAST: John Martini of Anthony Road Wine Company on growing grapes, making wine and working as a family (podcast)

I sat with John at Anthony Road, with its breathtaking view of Seneca Lake.

In 1973, a friend told John and Anne Martini that they should move to the Finger Lakes and grow grapes. When changes in the industry made it more difficult to sell their crop, they opened Anthony Road in 1990. They gathered material and bottled their first vintage from the 1989 crop. The winery became a business of family, with his son Peter taking over the vineyard and other family members helping Anthony Road become one of the most renowned wineries in the Finger Lakes.

We talked about the years-long effort, chronicled in Evan Dawson’s book “Summer in a Glass,” to save winemaker Johannes Reinhardt from being deported to Germany and how current winemaker Peter Becraft entered a day, struck up a conversation with Johannes, then took over winemaking duties when Reinhardt left to start his own winery across the road.

We discussed the romance of growing grapes and making wine versus the grueling, cold, soggy reality. John told me that when someone expresses an interest in getting into the wine business, he invites that person to join the crew during the crushing, when the grapes are pressed down and their skins crushed, letting the juice. It’s hard work and John says if anyone still wants to be involved after a day with the Crush team, they know they could have a goalie.

You can join John and Ann on a Rhine cruise in November.

Like many people in the industry, John likes to talk about what he does and he’s seen it all, from the beginnings of the modern Finger Lakes wine industry in the 1970s to today. I was happy to listen, and afterwards, to taste. Anthony Road has moved to the more formal tasting room model that many wineries have adopted since the COVID-19 pandemic. You will be seated at a table, with your choice of themed flights. I have a weakness for the typical dry whites of our region. The 2020 dry Riesling is unctuous, with the mineral component that I really like and a very subtle fruitiness. Another favorite was Vignoles, a hybrid variety that is usually sweeter, but these grapes were picked early, so the wine retains a strong fruity note, but contains only 1.9% residual sugar.

Appointments are requested for tastings. With members of the Martini family carrying on the tradition of John and Ann, the next 30 years look bright. I enjoyed the conversation and I hope you will too.

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