Château Gloria owes its existence to the late Henri Martin, one of Bordeaux's leading post war personalities. A gregarious, enormously popular figure, Martin was not only one of Bordeaux's leading vignerons, he spent forty years as the mayor of St. Julien and was for years the President of the Conseil Interprofessionnel des Vins de Bordeaux, the premier trade and marketing organization of Bordeaux growers. Henri Martin also co-founded Commanderie de Bordeaux, another leading professional organization. However, Martin's greatest accomplishment was creating one of St. Julien and Bordeaux's leading château from scratch.
Bordeaux is a very traditional wine region, whose wines have been codified and classified for centuries. Major properties called châteaux have closely defined vineyards based upon tradition and terroir. This is especially true of the so called classified growths: these are the châteaux that were deemed in the last Bordeaux Classification of 1855 to be the finest in Bordeaux. Typically, these classified Bordeaux châteaux are passed down from one generation to the next or purchased intact and in their entirety by a single, very wealthy buyer. Consequently, it is extremely difficult to start a new property or château in Bordeaux. In Henri Martin's case, he never inherited property nor could he afford to buy a classified growth, but as the son of a Bordeaux cooper and old time Bordelais winemaking family he had a dream. He dreamed of owning a Bordeaux château and making his own classified St. Julien.
In 1942 during the darkest days of World War II, Henri Martin did the unthinkable. He purchased 6 hectares (roughly 13 acres) of a St. Julien vineyard that belonged to Château Beychevelle and began Château Gloria. After the war, he augmented Château Gloria, one parcel at a time, through purchases of vineyards from other St. Julien classified growths, most notably, Ducru-Beaucaillou, Gruaud-Larose, Lagrange, Léoville-Baron, and Leoville-Poyferré. Henri Martin, also, acquired a small parcel of the outstanding classified Pauillac château of Duhart-Milon that actually lay in St. Julien. Under the expert direction of Henri Martin, Château Gloria became one of the most widely admired and recognizable names in all Bordeaux. Although Château Gloria never achieved classified growth status because no new classification of Bordeaux was permitted, consumers, critics, and most Bordelais now agree that Château Gloria has for decades deserved to rank among the top Bordeaux châteaux. Moreover, Château Gloria has become one of the top selling château bottled Bordeaux wines of all time, a position it still enjoys today under the auspices of Henri Martin's family.