Martin Ray Winery: Bringing Great People, Wine & Food Together

“What wine goes with Captain Crunch?” ~ George Carlin

I am a sucker for a good wine and food pairing! It is one of life’s greatest pleasures. When wine is good, I am happy. When food is good, I am happy. When wine and food are paired well both are elevated to become better than either was alone. This is why I so often feature food pairings with the wine I am reviewing. For one, I can assure you I am drinking the wine with a meal more often than not. And second, if the wine is new to you, it helps to see one suggestion of how to pair it.

So while I was in Catalonia preparing to dine at El Celler De Can Roca, three star Michelin restaurant twice named #1 to the Top 50 Best Restaurants in the World list and currently sitting at number 3, I received an invitation to participate in an upcoming #Sonomachat featuring Martin Ray Winery and highlighting their James Beard Celebrity Chef Wine Dinner taking place at the winery on June 10. A delicious wine tasting that is focused on pairing wines with food? Count me in!

2015 Martin Ray Winery Green Valley of Russian River Valley Mill Station Vineyard – Dutton Ranch Chardonnay ($30): 100% Chardonnay, medium gold in the glass; medium+ aromas of crème brulee, caramel apple, butterscotch, lemon curd, pastry, vanilla; wine meets palate in a creamy full body mouth feel that is well-balanced with round acidity, enveloping and evening out the creaminess, leaving the mouth with a bright and mouth-watering finish.

2016 Martin Ray Winery Estate Grown Russian River Valley Rosé of Pinot Noir ($25): 100% Pinot Noir, pale salmon in the glass; medium aromas of white flowers, strawberry, white stone fruit, melon, and citrus; dry with piercing acidity on the palate that creates a zesty and tart mouth-feel, refreshing and invigorating, long tart finish that leaves the mouth in a pleasing pucker.

2015 Martin Ray Winery Estate Grown Russian River Valley Pinot Noir ($50): 100% Pinot Noir from clones 667, 943, and the Martin Ray Heritage Clone brought back from DRC in the 1930’s; medium+ ruby in the glass; inviting medium aromas of a basket of fresh picked red and blue berries, dried savory herbs including lavender and thyme, white mushrooms, black currant leaves, and forest floor; palate is met with juicy fruit quickly followed by earth notes, medium body with balanced acidity that wraps the palate creating a juicy mouth-feel and a long, pleasing finish.

More about Martin Ray Winery from their web site:

The name Martin Ray resonates deeply with those well-versed in the history of California wine. Winemaker Martin Ray was a pioneer in California winemaking by crafting 100 percent varietal wines from the region and made under his namesake label from 1943 through 1972. Nearly 20 years later Courtney Benham made an amazing discovery when he stumbled upon 1,500 cases of Martin Ray wine in a San Jose warehouse. Resonating with the brand story and recognizing his good fortune, Courtney purchased the brand, and since 1990 he has been dedicated to the production of exceptional artisanal wines worthy of the Martin Ray name. Today, Courtney and Winemakers Bill Batchelor and Lindsey Haughton are dedicated to Ray’s ideology of making “wines of place”, by procuring grapes and making wine from several of California’s most renowned AVA’s. In addition to the Russian River Valley, our unique portfolio wines offers visitors an amazing tasting experience that can take them to exceptional appellations, such as the Santa Cruz Mountains, Napa Valley, Dry Creek Valley, and Sonoma Coast AVAs without leaving the winery. “As a winemaker at Martin Ray the best part of our job is to be able work with fruit from outside the Russian River Valley, and to cherry pick what we feel are the best offerings from Santa Cruz and Napa Valley”, says winemaker Bill Batchelor.


The James Beard Celebrity Chef Wine Dinner at Martin Ray Winery on June 10 will feature some of the top chef’s pairing Martin Ray wines with barbeque. Since I live in Texas I eat a lot of bbq. Therefore, in honor of the event I decided to pair these three Martin Ray wines with my own bbq; grilled flank steak topped with Texas bbq sauce, grilled corn, and a Moroccan barley salad (not bbq). The Chardonnay and Rosé paired very well with the dinner and bbq sauce; however, as expected bbq and Pinot Noir are not a great combination. Save the delicious Pinot Noir for another food pairing.

To learn more about Martin Ray Winery, view their entire portfolio of wines, and get more information on how you can attend the James Beard Celebrity Chef Wine Dinner visit their web site.

My Song Selection:

Get your own bottles of Martin Ray Winery and let me know what song you pair with them. Cheers!

5 responses to “Martin Ray Winery: Bringing Great People, Wine & Food Together”

    • Good question. PN is a light red wine that is enjoyed for its essence & thoughtfulness. Most cannot stand up to the bold flavors, sweetness, & spice of BBQ sauce.
      Btw, I’ve learned white wines contain much more sulfite than red wines. Wine allergies (red, white, or both) tends to be due to the wine’s histamines. According to my WSET teacher, who is a Master of Wine (read big deal), is actually allergic to all wine. Often a simple OTC Claritin or Zyrtec will do the trick. Furthermore, different wines have different histamine levels, like plants. If you ever feel adventurous you can experiment. I recommend starting local with a light WV Pinot Noir. Also if possible eat honey from some of your local vineyards that produce it. That may help as well.

      • Wow, who knew? Great information. Way back in the 80s when I first started getting migraines the doctor told me it was from drinking red wine… And thanks for the PN answer too. I’ll have to grab a Zyrtec and try some red soon and see what happens. 🙂

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