Meet Marty Johnson, Winemaker, Co-Owner, Executive Director

“I began my odyssey during my college years, enjoying and evaluating many wonderful wines from Bordeaux in the late 70’s. Since then, there have been many moments that I have truly enjoyed a glass of wine. I have tasted and admired wines from much of Europe and the rest of the world. Occasionally I’ve even thought that I loved a particular bottle from a certain producer of an outstanding vintage. There were moments to be sure, captivated by a brilliant ruby color, entranced by the nuanced aromas of a well-aged beauty, intrigued by the complexities developing and unfolding on my palate, but true love was finally revealed to me by a 25 year old widow from France.

I never suspected that the bottle of 1973 Veuve Clicquot “La Grande Dame” that I had cached away for 17 years, awaiting a milestone event or life changing moment, would itself turn out to be my epiphany. The Champagne showed a beautiful golden amber color with needle fine bubbles struggling to rise to the top of the flute. A subtle aroma of baked bread, almonds and honeycomb hinted at the alluring pleasures to come. I can still remember the incredible viscosity on my palate, almost heavy, yet with a petulant mousse fleeting yet substantially uplifting. Flavors of fresh honey on toasted brioche, rich with butter and baked yeastiness lifted my senses with every sip. I still am haunted by the memory of the persistent finish, rolling and drifting between perception and implication. Yes, this was love, and the memory of it still remains.”

After nearly 45 years enjoying and evaluating wines from around the globe, Marty now brings his passion for wine and global perspective to the winemaking and winegrowing activities to Ruby Magdalena Vineyards, the passion project created by Marty and his wife Ryan. He will ensure that the utmost quality will continue to be the focus of our portfolio of carefully handcrafted wines.

2022 was Marty’s 18th vintage in the Yakima Valley. He began his winemaking career in the Yakima Valley at Tefft Cellars in Outlook, WA (~ 3,500 cases) as a cellar rat, worked his way up to assistant winemaker and eventually winemaker and cellarmaster. He has also worked as winemaker and vigneron at Eaton Hill Winery in Granger, WA (~ 2,500 cases) where he managed up to 18 acres of vineyards, winemaking operations and operated the tasting room on weekends. Hyatt Vineyards in Zillah, WA (~ 25,000 cases) was his next stop where he worked as winemaker and compliance officer, running the back end of the production facility. Marty has earned a two-year certificate in Enology and Viticulture from UC Davis, as well as WSET Level I, WSET level 2 with Distinction and WSET level 3 with Merit from the Wine and Spirit Education Trust based in London UK. He is currently working toward his Certified Specialist of Wine Certification.