The earliest recorded information available to us explains that a Mr. Smith purchased our property in 1895. By the late 1890’s, a section of the rocky hillside was planted to grapes by the Kramm family. Access to the vineyard was by horseback on the Old Wells Fargo Road to Santa Rosa. In the 1930’s, down in the canyon, overlooking the North fork of Sulphur Creek, there lived a silent movie star with a squeaky voice who built a little log cabin filled with twig and bark furniture that he had made for his refuge. This gentleman had played macho roles in silent movies, only to be relegated to “has been” status when “talkies” made their appearance in America. He spent the rest of his days here, living as a hermit.
(Clark Gable and Kay Spreckels, 1955)
After World War I
I, Al Menasco, an inventor, barnstorming pilot, and aviation pioneer, bought the property.
Al’s best friend, Clark Gable, visited frequently. There are stories of the two carousing on the property with gun shots into the evening. When Clark married Kay Spreckels, Al Menasco was best man and the newlyweds spent their honeymoon on the property. Al’s flying adventures are well documented and his aeronautical memorabilia are now in the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum.
Al had a sincere interest in wine as well and became a pioneer in developing new vineyard practices. He experimented with different types of vineyard spacing and planted a dozen varieties of grapes in different soil types and micro climates on the property. He kept meticulous records to discover the optimum growing conditions for these varietals.
Michael and Alexandra Marston were part of a consortium that bought this property in 1969, with many of the original vineyards from the turn of the century still in production. Michael and Alexandra ultimately bought the total property in 1976 and have energetically maintained and enhanced the property since then.
Over the last thirty five years, Marston Family Vineyard has produced numerous award winning wines. Andre Tchelistcheff helped craft small quantities of Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah, and Zinfandel in the early 1980’s. Sean Thackery produced legendary Petite Syrahs from the Marston Vineyard in the early 1990’s winning “Best Red Wine in the World.”
(John and Elizabeth Marston, 1981)
For the last decade Beringer has been responsible for farming the vineyard with Cabernet Sauvignon from Marston Vineyard going to their award winning Beringer Private Reserve Cabernet
1998 marked the beginning of a new era for Marston Family Vineyard. The first Marston Family Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon
was made by star winemaker Philippe Melka in 1998. Each vintage will remain “forever limited” to five hundred cases and is produced from hand selected blocks on the property. Al Menasco would be proud!