The History of St. Francis Winery

Just east of our Tasting Room, roughly a half-mile down the Sonoma Highway in the town of Kenwood you will find Behler Vineyard. This remarkable valley floor vineyard named for the previous landowner and German settler Will Behler, is where our story began. 

In 1971, businessman and San Francisco transplant, Joe Martin purchased 82-acres of this beautiful Sonoma Valley ranch. Martin spent his first season as a vintner replanting the existing vineyard rows from traditional German varieties to Chardonnay and Merlot. A bold move at the time, Martin is now credited with planting some of the first Merlot vines in the Sonoma Valley.

Martin and his business partner Loyd Canton went on to sell their first harvests to local winemakers under the business name St. Francis Vineyards. A name Martin had chosen as an homage to the Franciscan Missionaries credited with planting the first grapes in the region in the mid-1800s. With St. Francis also being the Patron Saint of Nature and Ecology, the moniker also represented his pledge to safeguard and preserve the splendor of the region for future generations.