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St. Francis Winery Founder Joe Martin Dies at 80.

Article from Wine Spectator about Joe Martin

Joe Martin (no relation) was one of those people who I have admired for over 30 years. He was on my list – see below. Joe was a partner in a vineyard in Sonoma, California that I have long admired for the amazing quality and consistency of their products. I first discover the St. Francis products sometime in the 1980s while on a business trip in San Francisco. Whenever I was in California, and later in other states when it became available, I made efforts to purchase Joe’s wines from his St. Francis vineyard. It is an extraordinary product.

St. Francis Winery and Vineyards Facebook Page

The company is named after St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint and protector of animals and ecology. Both subjects are near and dear to my heart. Clearly, the brand name was what caught my attention in the first place as I was raised a catholic and this saint was one that I liked from the vast assortment of saints that the Sisters of St. Joseph tried desperately to install into my thick skull for some unknown future reference. The name of the grade school that I attended – St. Francis of Xavier – different saint, but close enough. So, kudos to Sister Christina for her success. Obviously, the name was key to my initial wine choice. However, after the first sip of Joe’s wine, I was completely and totally sold on the quality of his product and the richness and drinkability it provided.

Joe was an innovator and a person who understood quality. A recent tour (February 2015) of the vineyard in Sonoma showed me first-hand that he understood great architecture too. St. Francis is housed in an amazing building that fits into the landscape perfectly with its Spanish influence and L-shaped layout that accentuated the vista. The vineyard building would be my ideal dream home – just add a swimming pool and get rid of the tourists.

James and Michael

Michael Martin and James De Jonge enjoying a glass of wine at the St. Francis Vineyard and Winery in Sonoma, California. February 10, 2015

I enjoy the St. Francis wines so much that I humped two cases home from Sonoma to Toronto on Air Canada. Not an easy feat, nor a low cost one. I figure after the cost of the wine, currency exchange, and the requisite taxes, I paid about $71.00 a bottle. I consider this to be a great deal.

So, I will raise a glass of one of his fine reds this evening and toast Joe for being a true innovator and creator of something wonderful.

St Francis Winery

I have come to admire a few stand-out individuals for their contributions, perhaps as technological innovators, business people, entertainers, or for their passion to serve the fabric of their chosen community. The list is not overly long, but it includes the following, not in any specific order, just as they rolled off of my mind:

  • Akio Morita and Masaru Ibuka, the co-founders of Sony
  • Ray Dolby, the founder of Dolby Laboratories
  • Karl Benz, founder of Mercedes-Benz
  • Victor J Andrew, founder of Andrew Corporation (now part of Commscope)
  • The three company Presidents who merged their individual businesses to create Nikon
  • Clyde Cessna, founder of Cessna Aircraft Corporation (now a part of Textron)
  • Joe Martin, co-founder of St. Francis Wines
  • Francis Ford Coppola, both for his movies and more these days for his organically grown Napa Valley Inglenook wines, especially the Chablis
  • Thomas Edison, lots of cool stuff
  • Nikola Tesla, AC power, amongst many other things, especially the Tesla Cage, neatest thing ever
  • Alexander Graham Bell, telephone
  • Elon Musk, EV cars and energy storage
  • Bruce Goodwin and Michel McCov, inventors of the IBM Blue Gene / Q Sequoia Supercomputer
  • Anyone who works at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
  • Johnny Lombardi, great Torontonian, broadcaster, and nice guy
  • Ed Mervish, business guy, theatre guy and amazing Torontonian
  • Gilles Villeneuve, F1 Driver
  • Peter Revson, F1 Driver, heir to Revlon, billionaire
  • Neil deGrasse Tyson, Science dude
  • Christopher Plummer, great actor and best voice-over guy ever
  • John Candy, actor, comedian and all around funny guy
  • Doug Henning, best magician ever – he still has my mind spinning
  • Leslie Nelson, made me laugh, a lot
  • Marshall McLuhan, a thinker
  • Malcolm Gladwell, author
  • room for more…

Who is on your list?


Michael Martin has more than 35 years of experience in broadband networks, optical fibre, wireless and digital communications technologies. He is a Senior Executive Consultant with IBM’s Global Center of Excellence for Energy and Utilities. He was previously a founding partner and President of MICAN Communications and earlier was President of Comlink Systems Limited and Ensat Broadcast Services, Inc., both divisions of Cygnal Technologies Corporation. He holds three Masters level degrees, in business (MBA), communication (MA), and education (MEd). As well, he has diplomas and certifications in business, computer programming, internetworking, project management, media, photography, and communication technology.