Sonoma & Mendocino, California
Starting with only a handful of purchased grapes in 1978, Marietta Cellars has been a standout winery in Sonoma and Mendocino since the very beginning. Founded by Chris Bilbro, a Sonoma County native with winemaking roots dating back three generations, Marietta rose to prominence with its revolutionary Old Vine Red, a California red blend that essentially created the category. The winery has slowly expanded its estate holdings over the past thirty years, evolving into a beacon for high quality, balanced Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, and Rhône variety blends. Now fully estate-based and organically farmed, Marietta has vineyards spanning 310 acres in the Alexander Valley, McDowell Valley, and Yorkville Highlands. Notable among their heritage plantings are California’s oldest Syrah blocks, planted in the late 1800s.
Scot Bilbro, Chris’s son, has brought Marietta into its next, incredibly exciting phase. After graduating from UC Davis with a degree in Viticulture and Enology in 2007, Scot joined the winery full-time, assuming the role of winemaker in 2012. Steeped in the history of the California wine country and the traditions established by his father, Scot combines his creativity and technical background in guiding the winery’s vision of viticulture and winemaking. Today, the fusion of traditional values and style with modern precision have culminated in the most highly regarded wines of Marietta’s four decade history.
California, United States
Affectionately known as "OVR," Marietta's Old Vine Red is a proprietary red wine made to replicate the field blends of the old vineyards in Sonoma and Mendocino counties. A groundbreaking combination of grape varitieis and multiple vintages first produced in 1982, this wine has blazed the path for red blends for decades. With an historic underground following, it is one of the longest lasting and best known red blends produced today. Predominantly comprised of Zinfandel, Old Vine Red combines pure fruit, a supple mouth feel and a rich, solid structure.
California, United States
Marietta's Old Vine Rosé is a perfect extension of the Old Vine series. Made in a Provençale, direct-press style from some of the oldest Syrah and Grenache vines in California, it is fresh, nuanced, and perfectly balanced to enjoy with food or on its own. As always with the "OVR" wines, it delivers a lot more substance and pleasure than you could expect.
California, United States
Marietta's Old Vine Riesling is the most recent and unique extension of the Old Vine series (or "OVR"). Originally intended as a gift for Scot's partner, Lisa, who is German, the bone dry style of Riesling became a fan favorite and permanent addition. While it is the only wine is the lineup that is not estate grown, it comes from some of California's oldest Riesling vines and offers an extraordinary value and delightful drinking experience.
North Coast, California
Named after cellarmaster Román Cisneros who has worked at Marietta for over 32 years, this Estate Zinfandel is from the Angeli estate vineyard in Alexander Valley and the McDowell Valley estate vineyard. One of the grape varieties that Marietta is famous for, this wine captures the bright, juicy character of Zinfandel, and hearkens to an era before dark, thick and oaky styles of Zinfandel took hold.
North Coast, California
Named after Armé, the husband of Marietta and great-great uncle of Owner/Winemaker Scot Bilbro, this Cabernet Sauvignon conveys a taut freshness and aromatic purity. Stylistically balanced between modern California and Old World, this wine is dense with fresh, dark fruit and tempered with a savory, earthy character. The dry fly on the label is a reference to Chris Bilbro's long family history of fishing with his great uncle Armé along the waterways that now adjoin the three estate vineyards.
North Coast, California
Named and styled after Chris Bilbro, affectionately called "Christo" by his great-aunt Marietta, this Rhone varietal blend is gentle but powerful, pleasurable but deep, and refined while raw. An ode to Scot's father and founder of Marietta Cellars, this blend is largely Syrah from the McDowell estate, blended with Petite Sirah from the Angeli Estate and Grenache from the Yorkville Highlands Estate. The pig snout on the label is a reminder of how Chris Bilbro made wild boar sausage and carted his creations around the country to share with chefs and wine lovers alike as he sold Marietta wines.
Alexander Valley, California
Marietta Cellars sits at the entrance to a small canyon off Alexander Valley. Known as Angeli Ranch after the family who originally settled there in 1886, the property’s vineyards connect gravel swales from the Russian River to terraced knolls invisible from the valley floor. The extremes of this site create a wine that is powerful but has surprising elegance and clarity.
Yorkville Highlands, California
From a high elevation site in the Yorkville Highlands with coastal influence and large diurnal shifts, the Game Trail Cabernet offers an intense, fragrant, savory, and fresh style of Cabernet that speaks of site and demands to be paired with food. This area, with trails worn by mushroom hunters and wild game that travel through the woods, was a refuge for Chris Bilbro, who hunted here and searched for Chanterelles. The mushroom on the label is a tribute to this unique place and its significance.
McDowell Valley, California
Made from the oldest Syrah vines in California, in the heart of the McDowell Valley AVA, this wine reflects the hidden property where it is grown - quiet, obscure and profound. This ancient, dry farmed, mixed block next to the original Gibson Homestead has been producing grapes for over a hundred years. Limited in production due to the unique grape source, this wine is built to enjoy with food.
Wine Advocate - "The 2018 Armé Cabernet Sauvignon is 85% Cabernet Sauvignon blended with 7% Merlot, 4% Malbec and 4% Petit Verdot. Medium ruby-purple, it has pure, classic aromas of cassis, graphite, violets, loamy earth and tobacco. The intensely flavored palate is light on its feet with loads of juicy lift and a soft tannic frame, and it finishes long and floral. It's an incredibly elegant style, particularly at this price point!"
Wine Advocate -
"The 2018 Christo is made up of 60% Syrah, 24% Grenache, 12% Petite Sirah and 4% Viognier. Vibrant ruby-purple in color, the nose offers pure scents of crushed red, black and blue berries, tobacco, violets, tar and smoked meats. The palate is full-bodied and packed full of perfectly ripe, juicy fruit, with a grainy frame and loads of uplift on the finish." - E.B.
Wine Advocate (94+ ) - "Medium ruby-purple, the 2018 Game Trail Cabernet Sauvignon has intense aromas of black fruits with accents of tar, earth, iron and leather. The palate is full-bodied and grainy with broody, still youthfully wound fruits and appealing hints of gravel, mint and spice that hint at more development to come with another couple of years in bottle." - E.B.
Wine Advocate - "The 2018 Gibson Block Syrah comes from very old vines interplanted with other varieties like Grenache, Trousseau Noir and Mission. They are dry-farmed, picked together and co-fermented. It has a deep ruby-purple color and deep, layered aromas of tar, earth, blackcurrant liqueur, cast iron and dried violets. The full-bodied palate bursts with juicy acidity, sparks of Luxardo cherry and a silky, rounded mouthfeel. It finishes very long and perfumed." - E.B.
Wine Advocate - "Deep ruby-purple in color, the NV Old Vine Red Lot 71 has bright black cherry on the nose, with accents of fresh tobacco leaves, woodsmoke iron and potpourri. Medium-bodied, grainy and fresh, it has spicy, mineral-laced fruit and a long, lifted finish. I love this wine for its full flavor, juicy appeal and sensitive price point." - E.B.
Wine Advocate - "The 2020 Old Vine Riesling comes from very old dry-farmed, head-pruned vines in San Benito County. It is exotic and perfumed with white peach, lilac, manuka honey and petrol scents. The palate is lushly fruited and mouth coating, which gives it a sense of sweetness, although it is technically dry. It has a spine of racy acidity and finishes long and full of flavor." - E.B.
Wine Advocate - "The 2019 Román Zinfandel (blended with 4% Barbera and 2% Petite Sirah) has a medium ruby-purple color and gregarious scents of candied peach, wild berry preserves, orange peel and tar. The palate is deeply fruited but light on its feet with bright freshness and loads of perfume on the long finish." - E.B.
More on Marietta Cellars
July 22, 2020 - In staying with the current political times, visa-vi the 25 percent tariff and looming increase (please submit comments in opposition HERE), the New York Times recommends avoiding the historic wine…
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Scot Bilbro learned to make wine by watching his father do magic. Not card tricks or sleight of hand; instead, Christo would transform cardboard wine boxes into suits of armor, or make up stories about rusted out cars in the river and turn them into the broken down steeds of long-gone errant knights. Everything was transformed and became something rare and special. Creativity and possibility reigned supreme.
Scot is now the second generation Winemaker and Owner of Marietta Cellars. Applying his Viticulture and Enology training from UC Davis he keeps yeast happy, manages oxygen’s interaction with the wine, and dials in the temperature range of a fermentation…but the real magic happens in the quiet moments. Hiking the vineyard rows as the fog burns off; checking grapes in the sweltering sun; in the cellar at the end of the night during harvest checking tank temperatures with the palm of his hand.
He continues to lead a team that performs magic by transforming hard work, attention to detail, a blessed climate, and exceptional land into beautiful, modern wines.
Spec Sheet | PDF
Added July 20, 2021 -
July 17, 2020 - https://vimeo.com/427456439 Since 1978, Marietta Cellars has led a revolution in quality-driven non-vintage blends from some of the oldest existing plantings in California. This week, VINTUS is proud to introduce Marietta…
August 4, 2021 - In this Tasting Interview, wine critic James Suckling and Scot Bilbro, winemaker at Marietta Cellars, the two talk vineyards, the dynamic genre of table wines, how these wines are an…