This is based on a winery supplied sample.




NapaValley’s Elyse Winery has two causes for celebration this harvest.  In addition to a stellar looking 2012 vintage in NapaValley, it is the 25th harvest for the winery.




I guess a good way to get started is by meeting Elyse.  Here she is with Ray Coursen, her dad.





Elyse Winery was started in 1987 by Ray and his wife Nancy when they crushed 4.5 tons of Zinfandel from the Morisoli Vineyard in Rutherford to craft 286 cases of their first wine.  While the portfolio has grown over the last 25 years, the focus remains on creating vineyard driven wines that pair well with food.  Total production is currently 10,000 cases and the wines are nationally and internationally distributed.

Ray grew up on a dairy farm in northwest New Jersey and tended various crops before tiring of milk and leaving the roost.  After a two year stint in the army and extensive travel in Europe and Africa, he returned to the states and attended StockbridgeAgriculturalCollege at the University of Massachusetts.  While at school, he worked at a fine wine shop in Boston, and it was here that he discovered fine French wine.  With Coursen’s background in farming and his new appreciation for wine, the idea of making wine took hold.


Nancy is a third generation Californian and grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area.   Following her graduation from the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in Occupational Therapy, she worked with special needs children in the educational systems of the Boston area.   It was in Boston in 1982 that Nancy met Ray and shortly thereafter his interest in the wine business brought them to the NapaValley.

Much more information and Ray, Nancy, Elyse, and her younger brother Jacob Franklin can be found at:


2008 Elyse Zinfandel Morisoli Vineyard



My comments

Elyse has been one of my favorite wineries since my first visit there in 2001.  I was talking to an employee at Merryvale about the style of wines I liked and that I was on the lookout for leads to some nice Petite Sirah based wines.  All he said was, “You have to checkout Elyse”.  As soon as we got back in the car, I pulled out my guidebook of wineries, and looked them up.  According to the guide, they required a reservation so I called them.  About 30 minutes later we were met by a very gracious and inviting tasting room employee.  We spent the next hour trying just about everything they made.  We left with several bottles for the week and ordered a case to be shipped back home.


Since that day, Elyse has always been the first winery we visit when we make it to Napa.  I always have several bottles of Elyse wine in my cellar.



Wine Info

Elyse has been making Zinfandel wines from the Morisoli Vineyard since 1986 and have been the only producer working with the grapes since 1988.


Though this wine is mainly Zinfandel (87%) it also contains 13% other varietals including a combination of Alicante Bouschet, Carignane, Durif, Grand Noir, MuscatHamburg, Negrette, Syrah, and Valdiguie.


The total production was 2,077 cases.


After a 16 day fermentation with native yeast, the wine was aged 10 ½ months in American oak, 25% of which was new.


The final alcohol is 14.4%.



My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep garnet color, almost purple.  The very inviting nose features brambly berries, licorice, eucalyptus, Asian spices, violets, dark chocolate, black pepper, with hints of cherry, dark roast coffee, smoky bacon, and a touch of earthiness.  This has a medium body with fairly solid, ripe tannins, and very good acidity.  The wine is very rich and spicy on the palate with the fruit and savory notes delivering a very tasty mouthful of pleasure.  The finish is long and very flavorful with the spicy berries, pepper and a touch of earthiness slowly adding a touch of eucalyptus.  This is an outstanding, young Zinfandel that has several years of good drinking ahead.  (94 pts)





Remember to support your local wine store!




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Notes – I use the “official” Cellar Tracker name for the wines.  I use Cellar Tracker to help manage and organize my cellar.  I highly recommend checking it out at  Loading you existing cellar is a lot less intimidating than it would first appear.  There is a good chance 99% of your wine is already in the system, so you generally only need to enter part of the wine’s name and the system will find it for you.



Prices noted are the prices I paid at the time of purchase.  I don’t shop around to find the best prices, but my local store is usually VERY competitive.  I generally get case discounts, and since I work there part time, I get a 5% discount.  Wines purchased direct from a winery do not include any shipping charges.  None of the prices include the sales tax.



All wines that were sent to me free of charge to sample will be noted and I will show suggested prices when available.