Attention, wine-loving manly men

Let the backlash begin.

First it was winemakers unashamedly creating products aimed at the female market. Now, the latest niche is ... men?

Yup. Ray's Station, a California winery, has launched a line of merlots and cabernet sauvignons it says is just for men -- the kind who like to hunt and fish, as Ray's ads portray them; the kind who like manly emblems, like the galloping stallion on the label of "Hearty Red Wines for Men" (about $15 a bottle).

Brian Hilliard, head of marketing for Ray's Station, says they will produce no white wines before their time, or any other time. Whites, the folks at Ray's proclaim, are for women.

So, who exactly in that huge market niche labeled "men" is the target demographic?

Says Hilliard, "These guys, they're married; they've got a couple of kids. Wine is part of their lives, but it's not integrated in a way that they really force themselves to be knowledgeable."

Ray's Station is a six-year-old Sonoma County operation owned by Jackson's Estate Brands. Its production advantage is having a surplus of hillside-grown grapes from Jackson properties in the Alexander, Knights and Bennett valleys of the county.

"We have a lot of plantings and always have an excess of juice," Hilliard told the San Francisco Chronicle. "Cabernet and Merlot in the $11 to $15 category is the hottest in the industry, so we're hitting that point with wines made from 90 percent mountain fruit. We make some money, and the customer gets one heck of a value. It's not a brand that's going away. We can sustain Ray's Station for years to come."

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