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Farmer John Started It All

Farmer John was wearing overalls long before he found himself a farm.  Turns out, overalls are great for carrying baby bottles, wet wipes and fruit roll-ups.  Tools of the trade for a stay-at-home Dad of four.  While Kristi brought home the bacon working in the wine business, the two dreamed of living in the country one day, close to some water with space for a couple of horses.  With nearly-grown kids, their dreams came true in 2014 with the purchase of the 135-year-old Merrihew farm in beautiful Oakdale, California. Now with 12+ acres on the banks of the Stanislaus River, John decided to plant vineyards, and within a few years, Marsella Family Vineyards was producing our first wines for friends and family.  Now we’re ready to make our wines available to everyone!

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Our first planting was the North Vineyard along Orange Blossom, where you’ll find a lovely collection of red winegrapes including Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir.  Our second vineyard on the South side of the property expands our red collection to include Petite Sirah and Malbec.  Our third vineyard borders the Pavilion  with Chardonnay.  Next we planted our precious, historical Mission Grapes, raised by John from cuttings for the Angelica. 

Our most recent plantings are the Italian varietal Teroldego 

to the East, and some Sicilian Nero d'Avola

past the chicken coop to the West. 

All told, we’ve planted about 900 vines on the estate.



When John and Kristi first set foot in the 135-year old barn in 2014, they thought, “This place is special.”  And it is.  Originally owned by the Merrihew family in the 1800’s, our redwood barn was home to dairy cattle whose milk was delivered by wagon from Sonora to Modesto.  Our little Farmhouse came along later, in 1906, for newlyweds Fred and Olga Merrihew to make their new home.  It was a Sears Roebuck Catalog house, and the wood burning stove Fred gave Olga as a wedding gift still stands in our kitchen.  Gifted artist, Debra Bonsack, rejuvenated the farm in the 2000’s, building an addition on the house and transforming the 1886 Barn to a gathering place for art classes and children’s art camps.  Her thoughtful collection of antiques – from the beautiful windows in the barn to the door knockers –

remind us of her loving care of this place. 

And now the Marsellas are the stewards of this patch of heaven. 

Farmer John finally got a tractor. He cleared acres of overgrowth to create pastures for horses, goats, and llamas.  John updated the kitchen in the Barn and added a bedroom and bathrooms to accommodate visiting family.  With the help of our friend, Alfredo, he replaced the old stud barn with a beautiful chicken coop, and added the Carriage House East of the Barn which later became our little winery.  Then they added the Pavilion – a shaded gathering place below the Barn for outdoor lounging.

And in the short time this Farm has been ours,

we have filled it with memories. 

Many, many family gatherings around long, bountiful tables, church gatherings, fundraisers, sorority retreats, wine tastings, cycling events, cornhole tournaments, graduation and         retirement parties, baby showers, birthday parties,

and even a few office Christmas parties. 

We occasionally rent the Barn for weddings and other events. 

Whatever the occasion, guests feels the warmth and care

and history of this wonderful little Farm. 

It’s an easy place to be.  Modest, but somehow grand

Drafty, but somehow cozy.  

And full of love and life.

Come as you are for a visit.

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