Elyse is a Napa Valley winery founded in 1987 by Ray and Nancy Coursen. Ray grew up on a New Jersey dairy farm and attended agricultural college before moving to the Napa Valley to pursue winemaking. Nancy is a third-generation Californian who met Ray and joined him in establishing their own winery. Ray worked for several Napa producers before starting his own label, which is named after the couple’s daughter. The Coursens source grapes from Napa Valley growers. In 1998 they started a second label, Jacob Franklin, named for their son. Robert M. Parker Jr. notes that "these wines are at least very good, and often outstanding, as Coursen knows how to coax high quality out of Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, and Cabernet Sauvignon..."
Napa Valley AVA is the most famous winemaking region in the United States and one of the most prestigious in the world. With nearly 43,000 acres of vineyards and more than 300 wineries, it is the heart of fine wine production in the United States. Winemaking started in Napa in 1838 when George C. Yount planted grapes and began producing wine commercially. Other winemaking pioneers followed in the late 19th century, including the founders of Charles Krug, Schramsberg, Inglenook and Beaulieu Vineyards. An infestation of phylloxera, an insect that attacks vine roots, and the onset of Prohibition nearly wiped out the nascent Napa wine industry in the early 20th century. But by the late 1950s and early 1960s Robert Mondavi and other visionaries were producing quality wines easily distinguishable from the mass-produced jug wines made in California’s Central Valley. Napa Valley’s AVA was established in 1983, and today there are 16 sub-appellations within the Napa Valley AVA. Many grapes grow well in Napa’s Mediterranean climate, but the region is best known for Cabernet Sauvignon. Chardonnay is also very successfully cultivated, and about 30% of the AVA’s acreage is planted to white grapes, with the majority of those grapes being Chardonnay,