Courtney Benham acquired the historic Martini & Prati winery in July 2003, which is now Martin Ray Winery and the home of our Tasting Room. The Tasting Room structure, dating back to the 1900′s, used to serve as a stable and bunkhouse where Italian immigrants stayed during harvest and crush. The winery also houses a 1 million gallon production facility.
Established in 1881 as the Twin Fir Winery, the historic site is distinguished as the oldest winery in continuous operation in Sonoma County and one of the oldest wineries in California. The winery was able to stay in operation during prohibition by selling sacramental wines by train to Rabbis through a winery in New York. Originally known as Martini & Prati, which was established in 1902, the winery was run by five generations of the Martini family.
Thirty 11,000 gallon old-growth redwood tanks dating back to 1904 are still used at the winery and can be viewed during our winery tour. Much of the winery storage areas have been converted to barrel rooms where we store the majority of our wine. We primarily use French oak barrels due to its superb quality and oak accents that give the wines vanilla, spice and often herbaceous aromas and flavor. We use most of our barrels for 5 to 6 years, depending upon the percentages of new, neutral and old wood we want to use on a particular wine.
Beginning a new era for Martin Ray Winery at this historic site in the Russian River Valley has given us the opportunity to create a home for the Martin Ray and Angeline wines in a very unique and inviting setting. With our large production facility, prime location and the traditional, antique charm of the winery we have all the elements we need to provide us with growth and success. Visit us soon to experience Martin Ray Winery first-hand!