Updated: Jan 19
Driving to and from clients I spotted a tall water tower in the distance.
A large rainbow flag for gay pride month drew my attention in further.
After a day of work I had just enough time to sneak over and check the winery with the water tower out.
Martin Ray Winery!
In 2003, Courtney Benham began making Martin Ray wine at the Martini and Prati Winery
One of the oldest winery sites in the Russian River Valley.
In 2012, Courtney Benham bought the winery.
Why the name Martin Ray Winery?
Martin Ray was a Saratoga, innovative winemaker in the ‘40’s.
One of the first to make a dry French varietal wine.
Martin Ray retired in ‘72 and died four years later.
Courtney Benham decided to revive the brand in the 90’s.
He wanted to make wines that would make Martin Ray proud.
In 1990 Courtney Benham stumbled upon 1,500 cases of Martin Ray library wine.
In a warehouse in San Jose dating back 40 years.
He purchased the Martin Ray brand a year later.
Instead of keeping Martin Ray in Santa Cruz, he moved it to Sonoma County.
29 years later he continues to fuse the historical brand philosophy with his own vision.
He also founded Blackstone wine brand, which he later sold.
Today in addition to Martin Ray, his other brand is Angeline.
The winery has many wonderful amenities.
Stroll the flower gardens and the vineyard, picnic, or relax…
Big, bright, and colorful Adirondack chairs sit on the edge of the vineyard.
Chickens may join your group.
Play a friendly game of corn hole or bocce.
Open Daily 10:00 – 5:00 pm
Tasting $20 pp includes 6 tastings.
A nice variety of red and white wines.
Their Pinot is my personal favorite.
Pizza and Wine event. Saturdays and Sundays.
Between 11:00 and 4:00
Enjoy a Italian New York style pizza like none other.
Thin crust and gourmet garden fresh ingredients
Baked in the new Mugniani wood-fired pizza oven.
Chef Thomas Benham, Courtney Benham’s nephew, is the talented pizza maestro.
Thomas trained for six years at Chez Panisse with Alice Waters, enough said.
Order a Margherita with Mozzarella and fresh basil……
Or the Calabrian chile pizza with sausage sweet peppers and provolone cheese,
Maybe roasted eggplant, mint and pecorino cheese is what you are craving.
Pizzas take time to cook, so bring your patience along, the wait is so worth it.
During my tasting at Martin Ray I was so tickled when Claire, from Martin Ray marketing and sales, came out to say hello.
She was the sweetest and knew about my 100 Winery Sonoma County challenge.
I love when wineries are personable and human and caring and have the most amazing staff. I really believe that a winery that knows how to pick the best staff will know how to pick and harvest the best grapes. Oh, and fun fact!
The water tower was built in 1946 and is an actual working water tower. I guess some local peeps even remember being naughty and climbing the tower way back in their childhood.
Such a charming winery.
Sunshine, shaded spots, colorful, farmhouse white aesthetic, lounge couches…there is even an entrance that looks like a hobbit door!
Seriously though, there is a door, shaped like a barrel, round, and surrounded by large English looking stones. For sure looks like a wine hobbit lives inside.