I’ll Drink to That: Ray Coursen of Elyse Winery

Episode 442 of I’ll Drink to That! was released recently, and features Ray Coursen, the founding winemaker and owner of Elyse Winery and Jacob Franklin Wines. He is also working with the Purple Heart Wines project.

Ray Coursen arrived in Napa in the 1980s, but this interview goes much further back into Napa Valley history than that. Ray has made a habit of searching out conversations with the older generation of farmers and winemakers before him, and he shares many of those memories here. When was Petite Sirah known as “Pets”? When did phylloxera hit Napa for the actual first time? When did the old-timers blend Zinfandel into their Cabernet? Ray shares those answers. He also reflects on a changing landscape for wines sales, and the escalation of vineyard prices in the Valley. As he prepares to hand off his winery to his son, Ray wonders if his own son will be able to have the same opportunity. This interview is both a trip back in time and a look at the future of Napa Valley.

Listen to this episode:

I’ll Drink to That is the world’s most listened-to wine podcast, hosted by Levi Dalton. Levi has had a long career working as a sommelier in some of the most distinguished and acclaimed dining rooms in America. He has served wine to guests of Restaurant Daniel, Masa, and Alto, all in Manhattan. Levi has also contributed articles on wine themes to publications such as The Art of Eating, Wine & Spirits magazine, Bon Appetit online, and Eater NY. Check out his pictures on Instagram and follow him on Twitter: @leviopenswine