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. Martin Ray has selected and cultivated relationships with growers from diverse California wine regions. Winemaker Bill Batchelor begins shaping each wine while it’s still in the vineyard and vinifies in small lots at the winery in the heart of Sonoma’s Russian River Valley. The result is a collection of award-winning wines with impressive breadth of terroir.
There’s the typical gentleman farmer stereotype so common today in wine country, and then there’s Courtney Benham. Benham is of a different mould entirely. Growing up in the San Joaquin Valley and experiencing the rigours of farming firsthand inured Courtney to the romance of the grape. What called him 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 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, fostering creativity and spontaneity while making the most of traditional technique and state-of-the-art equipment. It’s this holistic approach that allows Courtney to consistently create top-quality wine that surpasses its peers.
2015 “American Winery of the Year”, Wine & Spirits Magazine