In 1983, Nancy and Ray arrived in California from Cape Cod to fulfill Ray’s dream of making wine and Nancy’s taste for adventure. After working harvest at Mt. Eden Winery in Saratoga, they moved to Napa Valley and became innkeepers for a bed &breakfast. Ray then spent formative time at Tonella Vineyard Management, where he gained philosophical perspective and practical knowledge working in the vineyards. Ray’s nine year tenure at Whitehall Lane Winery under the tutelage of Art Finkelstein first as a cellar worker and then as head winemaker honed his skills in the art of blending and was the inspiration for Ray’s winemaking style today.
In 1987, Ray & Nancy started Elyse Winery with 286 cases of Zinfandel from the Morisoli Vineyard, which is still a cornerstone vineyard source for the winery. After a decade of nomadic winemaking at various custom crush facilities, in 1997 they purchased a small winery and vineyard on Hoffman Lane, the home of Elyse Winery and tasting room.