Mark Ray

Perception | Calistoga, CA

Mark was born and raised in South Carolina and, as the son of restaurateurs, developed a passion for the charm and diversity of wine. While studying at Furman University, Mark began attending wine tastings and was soon designing wine lists for his family’s restaurants. He established a reputation as one of South Carolina’s top sommeliers, and was soon in demand designing wine programs for many of the state’s finest restaurants.

In 2001, Mark decided to pursue his growing desire to become a winemaker, giving up his position as the sommelier for Charleston Place Hotel to take a job in the lab at Robert Mondavi in the Napa Valley. At the same time, Mark sought out a more handcrafted expression of winemaking, by moonlighting at Turley Wine Cellars. Working with Ehren Jordan at Turley, Mark embraced a more intimate and instinctual approach to winemaking.

In 2005 Mark joined Williams Selyem as Bob Cabral’s assistant winemaker. “Williams Selyem was my dream job,” says Mark. “Pinot Noir has always been my first love, and Bob is one of the true masters of the varietal. I watched the care and love he showed the grape, how delicately he handled it—his amazing attention to the smallest details and complete reverence for winemaking. For me, being at Williams Selyem, was the ultimate apprenticeship in Pinot.”

In 2007, Mark left Williams Selyem to found Perception Wines, where he applies his passion and expertise to craft limited-production wines. Recognized for their character, complexity and elegance, these wines are sought after by connoisseurs and proudly sold at discerning restaurants and retailers.