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July 25, 2018

BREAK OUT THE BUBBLY: MARTINELLI’S TURNS 150!

Photo by Garrick Ramirez

Beloved sparkling cider and apple juice producer S. Martinelli & Company is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year, and we’re bubbling over with excitement! Founded in Watsonville in 1868—the same year Ulysses S. Grant was elected President—the effervescent company is still family-owned, locally-based, and making juice the way they always have: fresh and 100% natural. We’ve got the inside scoop below, and trust us, it gets juicy!

Photo by Garrick Ramirez

If you were like us, you were introduced to Martinelli’s via their iconic, apple-shaped glass bottle that you begged your mom to buy on trips to the supermarket. Then at Thanksgiving, you’d act cool filling your kids' cup with their sparkling cider from a champagne-style bottle. We weren’t the only ones pretending, either. It’s believed that Dean Martin would swig Martinelli’s—not martinis—onstage, and Martinelli’s cider would double as champagne in Hollywood movies during Prohibition.

Photo courtesy of S. Martinelli's & Co.

But before the Rat Pack and 18th Amendment, there were Swiss-born brothers Stephano and Luigi Martinelli, who immigrated to the U.S. during the Gold Rush years and started farming apples in present-day Watsonville. They introduced a fermented, or “hard,” cider in 1868, and by 1885, they were churning out 15,000 gallons a year (in 2017, Martinelli’s produced that much in less than 2 hours). The brothers began racking up gold medals for their cider at state fairs which explains the medals you see on the labels today. In anticipation of Prohibition, Martinelli’s bottled its first unfermented—alcohol-free—apple juice in 1917. In 1933, the brand introduced its famous apple-glass bottle with the slogan “Drink Your Apple a Day,” and the rest is history.

Photo by Garrick Ramirez

Turns out, Martinelli’s was ahead of its time, doing the local-artisan thing way before guys with fancy facial hair did. To this day, Martinelli’s produces fresh juices without any preservatives or sweeteners. Pick up a bottle and count the ingredients: it’s just juice. No mystery ingredients or unpronounceable words. It’s why mom let you drink your apple a day.

Photo by Garrick Ramirez

Fun fact: it takes two apples to make one bottle of 10-ounce apple juice, but Martinelli’s juice is actually a blend of fresh-pressed, locally grown apples including Newtown Pippin, Gala, Fuji, Granny Smith, Jonagold, Mutsu, and Honeycrisp. After being pasteurized, the juice is allowed to cool in the bottle to retain its naturally fresh flavor.

Photo courtesy of S. Martinelli's & Co.

During the early 20th century, that juice was hauled around in a snazzy 1932 Ford Model B truck with a giant cider bottle attached. In celebration of its 150th anniversary, Martinelli’s completely restored the truck for public appearances at local events throughout Northern California. “This truck dates back to my grandfather’s era and was originally used for hauling apples and delivering juice to customers,” says John Martinelli, CEO and fourth-generation family member. “Using old photos as our guide, we restored the truck to look like it did 86 years ago.”

Photo by Garrick Ramirez

Martinelli’s also slapped a special edition label on its sparkling cider which you can nab at the memorabilia-filled Martinelli Company Store in Watsonville. Belly up to the wooden bar where you’ll be treated to complimentary samples, and introduced to the company’s many other tantalizing flavors including sparkling juice blends of mango, marionberry, and pomegranate.

Photo courtesy of S. Martinelli's & Co.

And because we know you’re dying to ask: what about the hard stuff? To commemorate its 150th year, Martinelli’s just launched a brand new hard cider that, like its celebrated juice, is made from fresh apples. For now, you can find it exclusively at Northern California Costco stores. Who’s ready to start drinking more apples?






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