John Martini: a lifetime of achievements

Jim Trezise

Anthony Road Winery founder honored by New York Wine & Grape Foundation with Jim Trezise Lifetime Achievement Award 

John Martini, 2022 recipient of the Jim Trezise Lifetime Achievement Award presented by the New York Wine & Grape Foundation.

FINGER LAKES — "The product is a pleasure, but the people are the treasure."

That's what I tell people about the wine industry, which I have been honored to be part of for the past 40 years. And the personification of that saying is my friend John Martini, who has been in the industry even longer than I.

At the virtual B.E.V. NY conference March 29, I was honored to introduce John as the 2022 recipient of the Jim Trezise Lifetime Achievement Award presented by the New York Wine & Grape Foundation. This award was a total surprise and great honor when I was presented with it several years ago. But the best part is when I can pass the honor on to others who are equally or even more deserving, like our late colleague John Brahm of Arbor Hill Grapery, and now John Martini of Anthony Road Winery.

John is first and foremost a family man, married with Ann for 55 years, together creating four great kids who in turn created 12 beloved grandchildren. John and Ann's journey from being childhood next-door neighbors in New Jersey to grape growers and winery owners in "the fabulous Finger Lakes" has benefited the entire wine community.

The Martini Family in their vineyards above Seneca Lake in the Town of Torrey, Yates County.

John is fun, and funny. He loves telling jokes, and hearing them. "The money's good, and the show is great," is how he describes selling wine at Union Square Greenmarket in New York City while doing stand-up comedy at the same time, and picking up new material to entertain the folks back home.

And his thoughts about the wine business? "I just hope to be able to feed my family," and "a winery is a black hole for money and dreams" may seem to be polar opposites, but in John's mind they are both true and not irreconcilable if you just work hard and keep believing.

In that sense, it's not what John says--but that he does what he says--which makes him special:

"Show up, stand up, speak up."

"I like to talk with people who don't agree with me."

"Be well, do good."

These are just a few of the many sayings reflecting the philosophy of John Martini.

He pays dues and shows up at meetings of the New York State Wine Grape Growers, New York Wine Policy Institute, New York Wine & Grape Foundation, Finger Lakes Wine Alliance, Seneca Lake Wine Trail, WineAmerica, Winegrape Growers of America, National Grape Research Alliance, and so many more organizations. And in many he played leadership roles. In fact, a few years ago in Sacramento, Calif., he received the first Rich Smith Award of Excellence for passion, commitment, and collaboration on a national level.

How many people do you know who like to talk with people who don't agree with them? Today? In this era of hyper-partisanship, polarization, tribalism, and outright hatred? John does, because he sees it as a road to sharing, learning, and understanding--and maybe even peace.

Article author Jim Trezise (center) with Ann and John Martini of Anthony Road Winery.

"Be well, do good." Those are often his last words in emails and phone calls, and he really means them. Even better, that's how he has lived his life, and provided such an incredible example for his family, his friends, and everyone who has ever had the privilege of knowing him.

John has lived a lifetime of achievement, and happily there is more to come. Thank you, John

Unity Awards

The Unity Awards were created in 1990 as a way to recognize, encourage, and celebrate cooperation among grape growers, wineries (and their staff), researchers, retailers and others to advance the entire industry. The winery and grower community in New York state has a rich history of working and succeeding together despite facing a variety of challenges through the years. Recognizing the longstanding and bold spirit of our community members and their numerous achievements, the New York Wine & Grape Foundation is proud to continue honoring industry leaders & champions of New York wine for more than 30 years.