Sunday, August 3, 2008

S. Martinelli & Company

When it comes to local Lombardian heritage, it doesn't get anymore down home than S. Martinelli & Company. Still owned and operated by the same family since 1868, of Italian-Swiss/Ticinese origin, the famous producer of Martinelli's juices is still headquartered in Watsonville, California. This goes back to the first days of California statehood. Watsonville is located between Santa Cruz and the Monterey area, which was once thriving with Northern Italians. When I think of it, I think in terms of the area over time. Since 1868 even. It's located on a fertile plain between the beautiful Santa Cruz mountains to the north and the equally beautiful mountains of Monterey County to the south, with the Monterey Bay to the west, and the plains around Hollister to the east. This history just ties into everything that we're about.

It is also noteworthy that John Steinbeck's hometown of Salinas is just to the south. I guess it's almost equally noteworthy that Hollister was the location of both the real incident and the movie 'The Wild One' staring Marlon Brando, as well as the big yearly national motorcycle gathering. The history of this area is our history. I guess one could say that I'm biased, but S. Martinelli & Company is indeed a great company with a great product line.


From the Martinelli's website:

'History' page

A Family Tradition Since 1868

In 1859, Stephen G. Martinelli, a young Swiss, settled in the temperate and fertile Pajaro Valley near Monterey Bay, where the apples were of exceptional quality.

In 1868 he founded S. Martinelli & Company, producing bottle fermented Champagne Cider with apples from California’s first commercial orchards. Martinelli’s Cider soon became well known as the finest available. In 1890 it was awarded the first prize gold medal at the California State Fair, leading to the adoption of the brand trade mark, “Martinelli’s Gold Medal®.”

In 1916, Stephen G. Martinelli Jr. developed a process for making unfermented apple juice, while a student at the University of California. During prohibition, the company grew by specializing in non-alcoholic apple juice products, including the first non-alcoholic sparkling cider. Martinelli’s unique “Golden Apple®” jug was introduced in 1933, along with the slogan, “Drink Your Apple A Day®.”

The Modern Era

Today, S. Martinelli & Company is managed by the founder’s grandson, Stephen C. Martinelli, (Chairman of the Board) and great-grandson S. John Martinelli, (President).

Continuing plant modernization and expansion, along with improvements in packaging and distribution, have enabled the family owned Martinelli Company to keep pace with consumer demand for premium 100% natural apple juice products.


Check out the website as it has lots of interesting items, including the product line, nutrition information, many images of this history of the company, cool vintage ads, recipes, and a lot more. I'm not getting paid to write all this by the way, but it truly is a very practical product. The juices, which have come onto the scene in the last fifteen years or so, are touted as 100% natural, but really are just sugared water! This really is a go-to product(s) because it quenches your thirst and is very nutritious. The sparkling cider is particularly tasty, especially chilled. I try to eat half and apple a day, but this is a way to, as the company trademark states, to "drink your apple a day."

As has been stated a number of times before, the Italian-Swiss people are ethnically and culturally Lombardian. If you isolate Lombardia, with it's provinces, and include Ticino, it somehow finishes the region by showing it's lost province. However, Italian-Swiss descendants in this area prefer to be called "Swiss" rather than "Italian." The traditional "California Swiss" were basically Ticinese. There were some movers and shakers in the state who were of the much more common (in Europe) German Swiss, but the greater numbers were from Ticino as far as California. Both were part of the state's agricultural history, with many farm families.

We can, and should, get back to this subject again. There should be a documentary of this. Years ago, I saw part of a documentary about Italian-Swiss culture in California on PBS I think. I really wish I could get my hands on that tape. Anyone out there, please let me know if you happen to have any information regarding that. There used to be a lot of family "Swiss Clubs" in the Bay Area. Italian-Swiss were all over. This is going back quite a few decades. I attended the yearly Swiss Gathering a few years ago in Swiss Park in Newark, but didn't see anything Ticinese anymore. Lets keep our eyes open. If this isn't our culture, then who's is it?

The Ticinese were mountain people, just like my ancestors in the Camonica Valley. I'm drawn to the mountains. I think it's in the blood. I even invented a silly saying: "You can get a Camunian out've the mountains, but you can't get the mountains out've a Camunian." I guess one could say the exact same thing about the Ticinese. Alpine pride!

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