Ray Walsh, a native New Zealander who grew up in Auckland, got the bug to make wine after a trip to
Europe at age twenty. He obtained his enology degree in New Zealand and worked at a number os
wineries including Limeburner Bay, Villa Maria, Waitakere, and Cooper’s Creek. He made the move
to the United States in 1993, signing on as cellar master with the newly built King Estate Winery located
just southwest of Eugene, Oregon. By 1999, he had become the head winemaker and eventually was
shouldered with additional executive duties and the task of producing 50,000 cases of wine each year.
He longed to return to his more personal winemaking roots and left King Estate in 2005 to found his
own label, Capitello. Capitello is taken from the dialect word capitiello, meaning nipple. He likes to
say he learned winemaking in New Zealand and winegrowing in Oregon.
Ray rents space from Territorial Vineyards and Wine Company in Eugene and sources fruit from Hauer
of the Dauen Vineyard and from three vineyards farmed by Matt Compton of Spindrift Wines. He was
one of the first Oregon winemakers to utilize a reverse osmosis system to reduce alcohol in his wines
2005 Capitello Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., $35.
Deep violet in color. Oak-tinged cherry pie nose with luscious dark
cherry flavors. Clean and sleek, it cascades over the tongue like Mobil 1.
A deft touch of oak flows throughout. I could chug this one.
Capitello Wines are available at www.avalonwine.com. There is also a
Pinot Gris of great interest (King Estate has always produced one of the
best examples in Oregon) and a dessert wine from Gewürztraminer