Winemaker & Viticulturist
Michael Martella has been responsible for winemaking and viticulture at Thomas Fogarty Winery since its founding in 1981. Michael grew up on a peach and sweet potato farm in Hughson, California. His first encounter with wine came at the altar of his local church. Being of Swiss-Italian heritage his grandfather and grand-uncles often enjoyed a glass or two of red wine during and after the family meals.
Michael has been in been involved in farming all his life. After studying winemaking at California State University at Fresno, he worked in some of California’s largest wineries in the San Joaquin Valley. These early experiences helped formulate his deep respect and appreciation for vineyard sites, soils and vines.
Michael soon landed in the Santa Cruz Mountains, at the time one of California’s most promising regions for world-class Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. For more than a quarter century Michael has produced an array of handmade wines that have helped establish the lofty reputation of both the Santa Cruz AVA and the Fogarty winery.
“We are isolated. The terrain is mountainous and difficult to farm. But we are richly rewarded for the efforts. Our wines are exceptional and packed with character. They taste like one would expect from grapes grown in a cold climate on marginal mountain soils. Often tight and closed when young, they develop beautifully over time.”
Today, Michael is ably supported by a knowledgeable and passionate Lead Winemaker, Nathan Kandler, another Fresno State Enology graduate. Nathan has allowed Michael more time to enter into a new and deeper relationship with the land and the growing of the grapes. His current focus is to bring the vineyard into a new era of farming (organic and biodynamic). “It seems odd, but even though my connection to Fogarty’s various Estate Vineyards has been since their first planting some 27 years ago, I feel like we are just beginning.”
Michael also has own line of “Martella Wines.” He is also in the early stages of developing a “non-profit community vineyard” where the entire production of wine is donated to worthy charities around the globe.
Michael’s hobbies include skiing, biking and driving a black Alfa Romeo Spider on local mountain roads.