Martinez was founded in 1790 by the Spaniard Sebastian Gonzalez Martinez, who, from his base in the City of London sold sherry, cigars and Port which was sourced from a number of producers and sold on to British merchants for bottling under their own names. In 1822 he went into partnership with an Englishman, John Peter Gassiot, a Member of The Royal Society and amateur scientist. By the time Sebastian Martinez retired in 1849, the company had become the largest shipper of Port to the UK, with its own lodges in Oporto acquired in 1834.
In the early 20th century, at a time when many Port shippers were struggling, Martinez sold shares on the London Stock Exchange and became a public company. In the early 1960’s Martinez was purchased by British wine merchant John Harvey, who also rather ironically acquired Cockburn’s, at the time Martinez’s foremost rival. In 2006 the firm was acquired by the Symington Family who have set out to revitalise the Martinez brand and reinforce its reputation for fine Vintage Ports.