Elyse Winery Napa CA

Here is the second post in my ongoing series called Planet Wine, showcasing various winey locations you can see on Google Earth. Last week I took you to France. Today’s post takes us to Napa, right around Yountville, California, and the home of Elyse Winery.

Elyse Winery was founded in 1987 by Ray Coursen, a former dairy farmer from New Jersey who fell in love with wine while working at a fine wine shop in Boston. After moving to California in 1983, the dawn of California’s modern era of viticulture, Ray and his wife worked their way up, hoping one day to own a patch of grape vines they could call their own. Elyse–named after the Coursens’ daughter–was the fulfillment of that dream. Elyse reached its current location in 1997.

Elyse specialized in Zinfandel, my favorite varietal, right from the beginning, with 286 cases produced in their first year. Today they still make a lot of Zinfandel, but have also branched out into cabernets and a Rhone-style blend. This sort of easy drinking red wine exemplifies what California has brought to world wine culture: a laid-back but still extremely well-crafted work, meant for enjoying with good food and good company.

Yountville is now ringed with vineyards, but the best wines come from the small personal places like Elyse. There are no castles or medieval stone walls here as in Europe, but I’d definitely pull off the road into a place like this for a taste on a warm autumn Napa Valley afternoon.