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..."
Sierra Foothills AVA is in the western foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and it includes parts of eight counties. With total acreage of 2.6 million acres, and nearly 6,000 vineyard acres, it is one of the largest appellations in California. Wine grapes were planted in the foothills during the Gold Rush in the mid-19th century and the appellation was officially recognized in 1987. There are five sub-appellations within the Sierra Foothills region, and more than 100 wineries, most small and family-owned. Zinfandel is the most successful wine grape in this region, though Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay are also planted.