Although he grew up in New Zealand, Ray Walsh found his calling in the wine industry in the late 1980’s while backpacking through Europe and working a harvest in Germany’s Mosel region to finance his travels.
Bitten with the wine bug, Ray completed his enology studies back in New Zealand, earning his degree in fermentation science. Soon after, he began working alongside Kim Crawford and with New Zealand giant Villa Maria Estate before being recruited by Ed King of King Estate Winery in Eugene, Oregon.
Drawn to Oregon’s terroir and the growing reputation as the top region in the world for Pinot Noir, Walsh excitedly began his new life as an Oregon winemaker in 1993. Ray was instrumental in raising King Estate’s profile and reputation as a top producer of quality Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris, garnering many top awards, including placing King Estate wines into Wine Spectator’s top 100 list.
Ray continued to lead King Estate’s winemaking team for a decade, but made a choice to step away and started his own craft artisan brand, Capitello Wines in 2003. “I’ve never regretted that decision”, says Walsh.
Ray now resides in Eugene, where Capitello wines are made, but also heads to New Zealand each spring to work harvest and produce additional wines from the Marlborough region. “I learned about grape growing in New Zealand, and I learned about winemaking here in Oregon, so I feel really blessed to be able to produce wines from each distinctive region to showcase the stark contrasts of terroir from opposite ends of the world.
Ray began collaborating with Puffin wines in 2012 and has delivered exceptional Pinot Gris every vintage since then. In 2017, Ray became Puffin’s Sauvignon Blanc winemaker and delivered a Double Gold medal winning wine in its first vintage. Well done, Ray!