Martin Ray Winery
In 1990, Courtney Benham was walking through an old warehouse in San Jose when he chanced upon a forgotten treasure — 1,500 cases of library wines, dating back nearly four decades, made by California wine pioneer Martin Ray. Exploring further, Courtney found old wooden crates filled with letters, press clippings, winery brochures and price lists from Ray’s 40 years as a winemaker. It was clear that Martin Ray had quite a history and that an intriguing opportunity was presented. Courtney contacted the Ray family estate and purchased the entire wine library as well as the Martin Ray wines.
Martin Ray was an iconoclast who rejected mediocrity. He was an innovator and among the first to use grapes from the Santa Cruz Mountains to make premium wines over 60 years ago. Today, quality grapes from this appellation are fetching prices equivalent to Napa Valley. In an era when wines were sweet and cheap, Martin Ray fashioned his wines after the great French vintages of the Côte d’Or and the First Growths of Bordeaux.
Honoring the legend was no easy task, so before relaunching the Martin Ray brand, Courtney Benham delved into Martin Ray’s history and tasted through the extensive library of Martin Ray Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. He mined the history and wine for common threads and stylistically distinguishable components he could use as inspiration for his own wines. For Courtney, the essence of Martin Ray is a no-compromise approach that insists on two things: hillside vineyards and intuitive winemaking. This tradition inspired the original Martin Ray and inspires the wines that today bear his name.
Martin Ray Wines