Our Angeline Merlot is crushed in small lots and fermented in stainless steel open top tanks. The juice is then cold-soaked for two days, followed by gentle punchdowns to accentuate the rich fruit character, pressed to barrels and aged in French and American oak for twelve months. This Merlot has a deep, dark purple hue with brooding, layered aromas of sage, mint, black cherry and blackberry. Rich, full-bodied flavors of ripe plum, black cherry, spice, earth tones and soft raspberry are touched with subtle accents of oak and vanilla.
Baked salmon with roasted garlic or pasta in a light cream sauce
A great wine suspends time and place within a bottle. Each vintage is unique, and each vineyard’s grapes express the soil, climate and surroundings in which they’re grown. At Martin Ray, we’ve handpicked growers from diverse California wine regions and cultivated relationships with them alongside their grapes. Our winemaker begins shaping each wine while it’s still in the vineyard and vinifies each in small lots at our winery in the heart of Sonoma’s Russian River Valley. The result is a collection of award-winning wines with an impressive breadth of terroir.
Courtney Benham, Proprietor
There’s the typical gentleman farmer stereotype so common today in wine country. And then there’s Courtney Benham, who is of a different mold entirely.
Growing up in the San Joaquin Valley and experiencing the rigors of farming firsthand inured Courtney to the romance of the grape. What called him-and calls him still-was the business side of the equation. When he stumbled upon 1,500 cases of library wine from the legendary Martin Ray label in 1990, Courtney saw an opportunity. He bought the brand and has spent the past 20-plus years shaping it into a vision of his own.
Courtney recognizes that great wine is the sum of more than just good grapes and a talented winemaker; it’s the result of an efficient, nimble whole. A lean core team broadened by a stable of expert consultants and top-tier growers means Courtney has access to the best fruit and the best minds.
His business model unleashes the full potential of both, by fostering creativity and spontaneity while making the most of traditional technique and state-of-the-art equipment at the Martin Ray winery in Russian River Valley. It’s this “whole” that allows Courtney to consistently create top-quality wine that surpasses any of its peers.
“I love the challenge of creating incredible wines that over deliver. That’s where I like to play.”