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Producer Spotlight: Marietta Cellars

Perhaps no other winery has done more over the last generation to champion and preserve the great heritage varieties of California.

In a time where Cab and Pinot Noir seem to claim nearly all the accolades for great California red, Scott Bilbro (following in the footsteps of his dad Chris) focuses his efforts on Zin, Petit Sirah, and other red varieties that dominated Golden State winemaking before Bordelaise and Burgandian grapes took over in the mid-20th century.

The only condition was keeping the old vines in the ground, and farming for quality, and not just quantity.

Moreover, they eschew the stratospheric pricing that plagues so many cult wineries in Napa and Sonoma, and keep their world-class efforts within reach of anyone with $15 and a thirst for the generous, lusty table reds that built the world of California wine.

The Bilbro family has rescued countless vineyards planted with ancient vines of heritage varieties by appealing to grape farmers’ most acute need: their bank balance. Quite simply, farmers who had been growing—say—Carignan for a huge conglomerate like Gallo to put into anonymous boxed wine, and getting $800/ton, were often moved to plant more profitable varieties like Cabernet or Chardonnay. At least this way they could get a few hundred more per ton, even if yields were lower. The Bilbros, seeing 100 and 120 year old vines being torn up for the sake of forgettable (C+ bulk Cab), rushed in and promised to double the farmers’ pay. The only condition was keeping the old vines in the ground, and farming for quality, and not just quantity. The result is a winery that showcases ancient vine Petit Sirah, Syrah, Carignan, and most notably Zinfandel from some of the region’s most historic vineyards, all while scarcely having a bottle that exceeds $50 retail, and with some offerings sitting below $15. If you’re like us at Cork and Cap, and you drink wine as part of your weeknight meals, you’re not popping $200 bottles on a Tuesday. We can't wait to stock our shelves with affordable weeknight beauties,

like Marietta Cellars, that still get us excited decades after first discovering their noble efforts.


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