Leno Martinelli

Leno Martinelli

When Leno Martinelli’s father, Giuseppe, died, he took over Giuseppe’s vineyards, Jackass Hill and Jackass Vineyard, at age 12. Leno was the youngest of 4 children by at least 10 years. His older brothers gave him “that really steep hill to farm”… because only a jackass would farm a hill that steep, 65 degrees. Leno farmed it with a horse and plow at age 12 (1918), then eventually buying a John Deere crawler in the 1960’s. He farmed Jackass Hill until he was 89 years old, (77 years). Leno made his own wine, grew apples, had a fabulously lush garden, was a sore loser at pinnacle and hunted the deer that ate his grapes. He was known to sew his own deep cuts shut with needle/pliers, and tan deer hides to make work gloves. He was the quintessential subsistence farmer, living off only what he grew or hunted. He lived a sustainable life before it was certifiable. Leno taught his son, Lee Sr., how to farm apples, prunes, grapes and make wine and grappa. Leno retired from farming at 89 years old, handing his lands over to his son, Lee Sr to farm. Lee Sr farms Jackass Hill today at 80 years old.