"Mountain soil is much better for producing wine grapes. Oh the vines would like the perfect soil, but grapes have a stronger flavor when vines must work hard to get what they really need for growing."
- Martin Ray
Martin Ray was an innovator who rejected mediocrity and was one of the first to produce 100% varietal wines in
California. Ray is also well known for developing mountainside vineyards redominantly in the Santa Cruz Mountains region
to make ultra-premium wines.
According to Vineyards in the Sky, a history of California winemaking written by Ray's wife, Eleanor, Ray first
learned how to make wine from the legendary French winemaker, Paul Masson. He took over Masson's original Mountain
Winery, located above the town of Saratoga, and made wine there from 1936 to 1943. Later, he developed his own vineyards
and winery on nearby Mt. Eden, where he produced wines under the Martin Ray name from 1946 until 1972. He died in 1976,
and the brand disappeared from the marketplace-until Courtney Benham rediscovered it fourteen years later.
Our Home in the Russian River Valley
Martin Ray Winery's Founder Courtney Benham acquired the historic Martini & Prati winery in July, 2003. The tasting room structure, which dates back to the 1900's, used to serve as a stable and bunkhouse where Italian immigrants stayed during harvest.
Established in 1881 as the Twin Fir Winery, the historic site is distinguished as the oldest winery in continuous operation in Sonoma County and one of the oldest wineries in California. The winery was able to stay in operation during prohibition by selling sacramental wines by train to San Francisco and points beyond. Martini & Prati Winery, which was established in 1902, was run by five generations of the Martini family until July of 2003, when Martin Ray Winery's founder and proprietor Courtney Benham purchased the facility.
Beginning a new era for Martin Ray Winery at this historic site in the Russian River Valley has given us the opportunity to create a home for the Martin Ray and Angeline wines in a very unique and inviting setting. Visit us soon to experience our prime location and traditional, antique charm.
Martin Ray Vineyards
Mountain fruit are the source of Martin Ray wines, including vineyards in the Santa Cruz Mountains, Napa Valley's
Diamond Mountain District, Sonoma Mountain and the hillsides of the Russian River Valley.
Diamond Mountain Vineyard, Napa Valley, California
The Diamond Mountain District Vineyard was originally developed in conjunction with the University of California at Davis in the late 1890's. The soil type is an Aiken series of reddish clay loam with varying amounts of rock and cobble. This mountain top vineyard is now owned by Fred Constant. The slight variation in vineyard soils, produce distinct flavor profiles, which in turn create more complex characteristics in the berries. The average depth is three to four feet, requiring very little irrigation. The vineyard is nestled in a fir and hardwood forest on a northeastern slope between 1800 and 2100-foot elevation. Mornings are typically fog free and cool. Northwesterly winds continue to cool the vineyard throughout the day, allowing the grapes to ripen slowly. Normal yields range between two and four tons per acre. The berries tend to be smallish, concentrated and intense.
Typical Characteristics of the vineyard are cedar, anise, mineral, cassis and spice.
Sonoma Mountain Vineyards,Sonoma, California
The Sonoma Mountain Van der Kamp Vineyards are located on the Northeast slope of the Mountain. The soil
is shallow, rocky and volcanic in nature. The cool breezes from the ocean to the west and the San Francisco Bay to the
south allow for a longer ripening period, promoting superior flavor development. Situated at 1800 feet, the vines are
above the fog line, and have outstanding air drainage. The vineyards yield grapes with deep color, firm tannins and
Typical characteristics of vineyards are complex earth, rich cigar, balanced fruit and exotic spice.
Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyards, Santa Cruz, California
The fruits of the Cooper-Garrod Vineyards and the Fellom Ranch on Monte Bello Ridge comprise the blend for the Martin
Ray Santa Cruz Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon. Cooper-Garrod Vineyards has a soil composition made up of adobe clay mixed
with gravel. The morning and evening fog, along the with other maritime influences from the Monterey and the San
Francisco Bays, create a particularly long growing season that allows the berries to reach full maturity with
concentrated color and rich flavors. On the Fellom Ranch on Monte Bello Ridge, the shallow, stony soils control vine
growth, resulting in smallish berries with intense flavors, structure and deep color.