Our History

A Previous Era

The road to Marston Family Vineyard is a secluded, forested destination. By the late 1890’s, a section of the rocky hillside was planted to grapes by the Kramm family. Access to the mountain location was by horseback via the Old Wells Fargo Road to Santa Rosa. In the 1930’s and during prohibition, down in the canyon, overlooking the North fork of Sulphur Creek, there lived a silent movie star who had built a little log cabin filled with twig and bark furniture that he had made for his refuge. After World War II, 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 riding the tractors with whiskey sours in hand and target practicing with the sound of gun shots into the evening. When Clark married Kay Spreckels, Al Menasco was the best man and the newlyweds spent their honeymoon on the property. Al had a sincere interest in wine 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 that have become part of the family library.


The Current EraJohn and Elizabeth Marston, 1981

Michael and Alexandra Marston were part of a consortium that bought the property in 1969, with many of the original vineyards from the turn of the century still in production. Michael and Alexandra ultimately bought the estate in 1976, and just over forty years later in 2017 Elizabeth Marston Leahy and James Leahy transitioned into the next generation of stewardship for the family.

Over the last five decades, Marston Family Vineyard has produced numerous award-winning wines: Philip Togni and Andre Tchelistcheff helped craft small quantities of Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah, and Zinfandel in the early 1980’s, followed by Sean Thackery producing legendary Petite Sirahs from the estate under his Sirius label through the early 1990’s, including winning “Best Red Wine in the World” with his 1992 vintage. Following a substantial replanting effort in 1993, the last two decades allowed us to work closely alongside Beringer as a private reserve vineyard, with the majority of the Cabernet Sauvignon from the estate blended into their award winning Private Reserve Cabernet.

With a strong desire to always produce wine under our own label, 1998 marked the beginning of the most recent era for Marston Family Vineyard. Our first release debuted with a young Philippe Melka at the helm to craft exceptional Cabernet Sauvignon from a few of our favorite vineyard blocks, and with the 2010 vintage we welcomed Marbue Marke as our esteemed winemaker. Each vintage from the estate continues to remain “forever limited” at roughly five hundred cases, and we are certain that our predecessors would be proud.