Winemaker Profile: Martin Ray Winery
What does an anthropologist slash filmmaker have in common with a winemaker? More than you’d think actually. Craft, creativity and science. These are the hallmarks of quality filmmaking as we know it today. They also happen to be the foundational blocks for making exceptional wine. Heading a diverse winemaking program, Bill Batchelor has found a unique way to apply his degrees in both Anthropology and Film Science to become a successful, self-taught winemaker who started as a harvest intern at Preston Vineyards back in 1996, to now Head of Winemaking and General Manager at Martin Ray Winery in the Russian River Valley.
“For me, I definitely see a direct correlation between making films and making wine. Just like any good director, you need to understand the people on your team – who they are, what motivates them, the business culture, and then keep surrounding yourself with talent in order to produce the best “picture,” or in our case, bottle of wine,” he said. Speaking about his approach to winemaking, Bill proudly shares his vision to create an atmosphere of teamwork with his Assistant Winemaker, Lindsey Haughton. “We’re very much a team here. I welcome Lindsey’s palate perspective and we continuously bounce different taste and flavor profiles off one another.”
Bill also believes that like with any great movie, it all begins with a great script. “I thrive on all aspects of the winery process. Through careful grape selection, we source only stellar fruit from our vineyards in Sonoma County (Russian River and Green Valleys), mountain sites in Napa Valley (Stags Leap District and Diamond Mountain), and cooler-climate blocks in Santa Cruz. Our meticulous production and blending practices safeguard the optimum quality of each vine. We don’t take ourselves too seriously here, but we are serious about each step in making wine. Creating a point of difference and over-delivering quality for price is important to us. We use modern methods and equipment, just with some old-world techniques thrown in,” Bill concludes.
Martin Ray Winery is the oldest continuously operated winery facility in California having produced wine there since 1881. Founder Martin Ray himself was considered a pioneer back in the 1930s by planting unique clones of Pinot Noir. Now, Martin Ray’s new parcel of seven blocks includes one acre of the highly-prized, original Mt. Eden clone – soon to be featured in single-vineyard bottlings sold exclusively at the winery’s tasting room. Taste their full portfolio of varietals, including Russian River Petite Sirah, a Rhône-style white blend, Napa Valley Cabernet and their Rosé of Pinot Noir, which sells out each vintage. For more information, visit the website at www.martinraywinery.com