Perception Wines - The Reality
Perception Wines: The Story So Far . . .
Perception: physical sensation interpreted in the light of experience
Perception Wines was founded in 2007 by Mark Ray, who spent nearly a decade honing his craft working alongside some of North America's most renowned winemakers, including Steve Leveque at Robert Mondavi, Ehren Jordan at Turley Wine Cellars and Neyers Vineyards, and Bob Cabral at Williams Selyem. Though the seeds for Perception date back to Mark's original decision to move to California to pursue his passion for winemaking, his vision for the winery came into clear focus years later during a vacation on a remote island in his home state of South Carolina. "I was sitting on the beach at Dewees, watching the sunrise, when I came to the conclusion that I had achieved what I had set out to in terms of learning about winemaking before making my own wines. I also had a clear understanding of the philosophy that I wanted to guide Perception -- to make the finest Russian River Valley Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Zinfandel possible, by using only the best fruit, and by keeping production small enough that I could oversee every step in the winemaking process.
To achieve these goals, Mark reached out to old friends, both within and outside teh winemaking community. To assemble his vineyard program, Mark built on lasting relationships he had established over the years with some of the most respected family growers. He sourced small amounts of sought-after Pinot Noir from famed sites such as the Martinelli's Ceremonial Vineyard and Bernie Orsi's Eastside Road Vineyard, Zinfandel and Chardonnay from Bacigalupi Vineyard, and Chardonnay from Sangiacomo Vineyards. At the same time, Mark formed a partnership with his two longtime friends, Shane MacNicholas and noted musician Dean Felber -- passionate wine lovers, who immediately embraced Mark's dream of making a small portfolio of handcrafted wines.
Perception's first lots of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Zinfandel were harvested in the fall of 2007. As he has done every vintage since, Mark was in the vineyards for th picking of every grape. This commitment to the smallest details continues today in the winery, where Mark defines the idea, and the ideal, of the word "handcrafted" by personally handling all of the fermentations, punch-downs and racking. "When you do everything yourself, you gain a tremendous amount of understanding about every single lot and barrel," says Mark. "They start to speak to you, and tell you their secrets. That's why we keep production small, so that I can maintain that intimate connection with the wines." That same thinking led to Mark's decision to focus almost exclusively on the Russian River Valley. "I've fallen in love with this appellation," Mark continues. "It creates wines with richness, complexity and depth, in the balanced, harmonious style I love. But there is also another benefit to focusing on one region -- I'm able to physically be in the vineyards any time I need to be, which has a huge impact on viticultural and picking decisions, and ultimately on quality."
The Perception Wines portfolio includes the winery's flagship appellation-focused Russian River Valley wines, as well as a selection of limited-production, vineyard-designate wines that are only bottled when dictated by the quality of the vineyard and vintage. Shaped in part by Mark's years as a top sommelier, these wines share an elegant and sophisticated house style that highlights fruit purity, complexity and food friendly acidity.
"The goal of Perception Wines is to produce the finest possible Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Zinfandel wines from the Russian River Valley and Sonoma Coast. These small-lot wines have been made by hand with great passion and care. We hope that you enjoy them with friends and family, and that they make the conversations lively, the laughter more frequent and joyous and the meal more pleasurable."
Mark Ray, Winemaker