Martin Ray, a stockbroker with a passion for wine and winemaking, owned Paul Masson winery from 1936 to 1943, then started his own Martin Ray vineyard and winery in the Santa Cruz Mountains, where his Cabernet Sauvignons, Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs became legendary. Ray was one of the first California vintners to plant those grapes and to adopt French winemaking practices. When Ray’s partnership with his investors soured in the 1960s, the property was divided and the investors took over the upper portion of the estate, renaming it Mount Eden Vineyards. Ray took the lower half of the property. He died in 1976 but his family retained the rights to his label and a number of notable Napa Valley winemakers crafted Martin Ray wines in the following years. In 1990 Napa Valley wine entrepreneur Courtney Benham purchased the Martin Ray name. Benham now makes wines under the Martin Ray label at a Sebastopol facility.
Diamond Mountain District AVA is in the Mayacamas Mountains at the northwestern end of Napa Valley. The appellation is relatively high and the entire district is more than 400 feet above sea level. Some vineyards are as high as 2,200 feet above sea level. Because of their altitude, Diamond Mountain vineyards experience warmer days but colder nights than vineyards on the valley floor. Once volcanic soil, the terrain in the appellation has over time become less fertile, making grape growing particularly challenging. Nevertheless the district has attracted wine producers for more than a century. There are 500 vineyard acres out of a total of 5,000 acres. Among the highly regarded wineries here are Lokoya Winery, Diamond Creek Vineyards and Schramsberg Vineyards. Diamond Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc are generally firmly structured, rich and quite tannic. Chardonnay is full-bodied with apple and peach aromas and firm acidity.
One of the most widely grown grape varieties, it can be found in nearly every wine growing region. A cross between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc. It’s a hardy vine that produces a full-bodied wine with high tannins and great aging potential.