Joseph T. “Joe” Martin
A visionary man, Joseph Martin, who passed away peacefully at home on Feb. 26 following a long illness, was born in Stockton, raised in the Central Valley and then in San Francisco, attending Mission High School. He owned and operated his successful furniture business Modern House on Mission Street for many years. Joe and his wife Emma had friends and family in Sonoma County, where they visited regularly and fell in love with the area. In 1971 they purchased the Behler Ranch in Kenwood, which became the site of the original St. Francis Winery and Vineyards.
Originally Joe was a grape farmer, planting the Behler Vineyards, 22 acres of Chardonnay vines and 60 acres of Merlot which still stand on the original site. He sold his grapes to a number of wineries and later decided to build the winery and make his own wine. The rest is history and Joe is considered to be one of the most highly respected “Wine Pioneers of Sonoma County.” During the course of his long career in the wine industry, with his engaging smile and hearty laugh, Joe has been an inspiration to many newcomers and students, always ready to extend a helping hand and offer advice.
Throughout his life, Joe contributed to many philanthropic causes in Sonoma County especially to those on behalf of his faith, to education, those less fortunate and in need, and especially to the needs of children. He served on many boards including Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, Catholic Charities, Star of the Valley Catholic Church, and Kid Street Learning Center for which he always held a special fondness.
Joe is predeceased by his parents, his wife of 43 years Emma Martin, her son Bob Armstrong, Joe’s brother Tony Martin Sr. (Joan), sister Alice Wimmer (Willie), sister Mary Stacey, and brother Paul Banayat.
Joe is survived by his wife of 10 years Nancy Martin, her daughter Aura Willis (Dave) and children Kristen, Grace and Troy, his adoring nieces and nephews and their children Tim Martin (Amy) and sons Blake and Brent of Martinez, Tony Martin, Jr., of Newman, California, Joseph Stacey (Barbara) of Indianapolis, Indiana, Liz Monaghan and son Nicholas of Dublin, California, Teresa Burk (Michael) and children Natalie and Christopher of Lincoln, California, Frank Lena (Collette) of Ione, California, Anthony Banayat (Bing) and daughters Allison and Megan of San Mateo, Lisa Banayat and sons Dylan and Ryan of Santa Rosa, Joann Banayat (Paul) of Oakmont, Pat Armstrong (Bob) of Oakmont and her daughters Leslie Silver of Aurora, Colorado and son Presten, and Linda Stubblefield (Brian) and children Joseph, Sydney, and Wyatt of Santa Rosa. In addition Joe leaves his devoted St. Francis Winery family, friends and staff; his longtime business partner and close friend Lloyd Canton and his wife Sharon, Christopher Silva, and family, Bob Aldridge and family and the wonderful staff at the winery, his bff Bob Giannini (What are friends for?), Joe’s “home away from home” and church family at Star of the Valley Catholic Church, his many longtime friends in Kenwood, wonderful buddies in the Kenwood Yacht Club and Fulton 500, and the staff and children at Kid Street Learning Center.
A memorial mass was held on March 10 at Star of the Valley Catholic Church. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Kid Street Learning Center, P.O. Box 6784, Santa Rosa, CA 95406.