For decades, Dr. Chris Cates had been working as an interventional cardiologist, recommending to heart patients that they keep theirs healthy by having a glass of red wine per day.
Through his company, the Wine RayZyn Company, Cates hopes to have wider positive effect than he ever could have by helping patients individually.
“Since we learned that wine was beneficial in a group of studies called ‘The French Paradox’ … where it really showed that French people live longer than Americans even though they smoke and probably and arguably have a worse diet than Americans,” Cates said.
“The thing that really shook out is the importance of that was all related to wine and polyphenols and antioxidants in wine.”
Stemming in part from this interest in the salubrity, or health aspects, of the wine grape, Cates and his co-founder son Andrew Cates sought to “expand wine’s footprint as a food, and take what could be a byproduct of wine — or the essence of wine, which is wine grapes — and turn them into a food ingredient that would really be a superfood that is able to deliver antioxidants in their true form in a bioavailable way,” Cates explained.
Together with the focus on health is a focus on sustainability and taking an environmentally-aware approach.
“We were honored right after we launched by the Grocery Manufacturer’s Association and the Food Marketing Institute at the Global Sustainability Summit in Denver back in 2015 as one of the companies that they felt was changing the way food waste was thought of,” Cates said.
In addition to taking “excess harvest” crops from grape growers, The Wine RayZyn Company uses “Green Drop fruit,” according to Cates.
Green Drop is a winemaking process in which the grapes that are lagging in maturity are removed and dropped from the vine.
“And so that would be (what) some people would call waste,” Cates said, “but we can turn those premium grapes from the same grapevines that make the great wines of Napa into Cabernayzyns — and that’s kind of cool.”
The company also buys some fruit.
The Wine RayZyn Company offers snacks made from three varieties of wine grapes, cabernet, chardonnay, and merlot, named CabernaZyn, ChardonayZyn, and MerlaZyn, respectively, as well as a dark chocolate-covered variety of their CabernayZyn grapes.
Online, these can range from $8.99 for three 1.6-oz. packets, to $9.99 per 8-oz. packet. All their snacks are non-alcoholic.
Apart from being offered on their website, the Wine RayZyn Company’s products can be found in the Whole Foods in Napa and Sonoma, as well as several in the Bay Area, and at local merchants such as Vallerga’s, Mondavi Winery and Cal Mart.
“We ultimately think this could go where we could take vineyard-designate grapes and turn them into vineyard-designate CabernayZyns, can you imagine a Robert Mondavi To Kalon CabernayZyn?,” Cates said when eyeing prospects for the future of his company.
“That would be kind of cool. And the New York restaurants would love that.”