The genesis of Mount Eden Vineyards was the arrival of Burgundian winemaker Paul Masson to San Jose, California, in 1878. Masson soon established a vineyard and winery in the Santa Cruz Mountains near Mount Eden, where he became a well know bon vivant.

Martin Ray, who grew up in the foothills below Mount Eden, became acquainted with the charismatic Frenchman and, shortly after Prohibition's repeal, purchased Paul Masson's Champagne Company. Notoriety came quickly. At a time when most California wines were blended from various, often inferior, grape varieties, noble grapes like Chardonnay and Pinot Noir were virtually unknown. The mercurial Ray began producing 100% varietal table wines, boasting that California could vinify world class wines to rival those of France.  In the 1930s, it seemed a ridiculous, foolhardy claim.
 

Wanting to establish his own brand, Ray sold the Paul Masson property in 1943 and, that following year purchased a higher peak to the north, Mount Eden. In 1945 he  planted his first vineyard there. The varieties were Pinot Noir and Chardonnay (Cabernet Sauvignon was added in the 1950's), and the mountain became his home. Ray named his wine domain simply "Martin Ray."

During the 1960s, Ray brought in investors to help him develop more vineyards. However, the partnership soured and the investors eventually took over the entire estate. The famous 1970 vintage was Ray's last from the vines he had nurtured for nearly three decades.

The new owners re-christened the property "Mount Eden Vineyards" and produced their first vintage in 1972. During the next decade, they hired a series of talented, well-known winemakers, including Richard and Peter Graff, Merry Edwards, Bill Anderson and Fred Peterson.

"In California, Ray was a maverick and a visionary who was far ahead of his time in focusing exclusively on estate-grown, 100% varietal wines," says Jeffery Patterson, winemaker. "During that period, to cultivate, vinify and promote Chardonnay and Pinot Noir was something totally new. Sixty years later, our constant goal and motivation is to honor and build on Ray's legacy by using the same sites and clones to craft delicious, complex, long-lived estate wines."