Raymond Vineyards
For The Distinctive Epicurean and Wine Enthusiast
Chef   & Vintner
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On a clear Monday morning we were on our way to " The Raymond Estate Winery"
to meet with
Michelle Sitton, Director of Consumer Marketing.

I did not know what to expect, especially after having a few conversations with Michelle
regarding all of the changes taking place at Raymond Estate in the past few months.  
My experience with
Raymond goes back long ago when I resided on the east coast
and had
Raymond Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve on our restaurant wine list, I recall
that particular wine as the go to, safe, sound, reasonably priced and a dependable
choice to pair with red meat.  
It complemented our dry aged, Prime New York steak wonderfully.  Before I describe
our visit to the
Raymond Estate, I have to tell you that we were pleasantly surprised
with our experience at the winery.
We arrived at the winery around 10:30 AM, Michelle met us in the winery
tasting room, which I have to say it looked clean and updated, it was newly
renovated last January, 2010. I recall my last visit to the winery a few years
ago, I was so turned off by the tired decor of the tasting room, it was old
and outdated I was glad to see the welcomed change.  I feel the excitement
and enthusiasm among the staff.  There are big plans to renovate this
winery and bring it to a new level of higher quality and give it the
competitive edge.  The signs are all there, they were successfully able to
persuade the talented winemaker of Far Niente, Stephanie Putnam, to join
the Raymond Estate team.  Michelle took us on a tour of the vineyards and
the winery explaining along the way, the long history of the Raymond
Family and vision of the new owner from the Bossiet group under the
leadership of Jean-Charles Boisset, an accomplished business man and
vintner.  After our vineyard and winery tour we accompanied Michelle to the
private, members only tasting room adjacent to the guest house and pool  
where we met with Raymond Club membership manager, Emily Enriquez.

Emily was very knowledgeable of the wines and different vintages.  She
had a table preset for us with a small platter of accouterments to
compliment our tasting.  Shortly after, Stephanie joined us as we were
tasting Raymond's  2009 Small Lot Chardonnay, that was her creation.  
Which I must say, we were both equally impressed of it's crispness and
complexity. A spectacular wine!   We had a few questions about
Stephanie's background, future plans and visions for the Raymond Estate.  
She described her personal winemaking philosophy as the 3 B's; Big, Bold
and Balanced.  She is a San Fransisco native and a U.C. Davis graduate
and Napa Valley is where she calls home.  I believe based on her past
accomplishments that she will be a great addition and asset to the
Raymond team and I expect great things to come in the very near future.  
Stephanie had prior engagements and could not stay to the end of our
tasting so we continued in the company of Emily and Michelle perusing
through the different varietals and vintages as follows:
2009 Small Lot Chardonnay:  Strong aromas of peaches, dried apricot, tea and apple.  Creamy in
texture and has a medium long and smooth toasty finish.  Balanced and well structured.

2006 Rutherford Merlot:  Deep in color, aromas of dark cherries, blackberries, black raspberries and
a hint of mint.  Heavy blueberry flavor and black pepper.  Light oak and vanilla with a smooth long finish.

2007 Small Lot Syrah:  Deep ruby color with cassis, plum and lavender aromas.  Full and rich with
obvious flavors of raspberry and red plum.  Hints of black licorice and black pepper and a medium sweet
vanilla finish.

2006 Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon:  Concentrated flavors of blackberry, blueberry and current,
interlaced with mocha and mineral notes, full rich body with silky smooth flavors of blueberry, blackberry
and earth tones of spice and leather.  Long finish.

2006 Generations Cabernet Sauvignon:  Deep garnet in color, dark fruit aromas, blackberry, dark
cherry and blueberry and slightly peppery with hints of espresso with intriguing subtle chocolate flavor
and red currant.  Smooth medium vanilla bean finish.
At the end of our tasting we were pleasantly surprised of our findings about the Raymond line-up.  We have tasted some great wines with excellent structure
and balance with smooth tannins.  We thought it would be great to have one of the unique Raymond varietals as a part of our future shipments for our club
members, which I am sure you will appreciate and enjoy as much as we did.  We were offered the opportunity to take a self guided tour of the vineyard to
explore and enjoy the scenery of the maturing grapes and the peaks of the Mayacamas mountains in the background decorating the horizon around the
vineyard.  During our stroll through the precisely planted rows of vines we stumbled upon a unique setting of a tasting table surrounded by 4 comfortable
chairs and a red umbrella designated for special events such as anniversaries or the perfect romantic spot for a marriage proposal.  The road to success is a
long one and not easily accomplished, the Raymond team is committed and motivated to a bright future and have their vision focused on the ultimate prize of
producing not only spectacular wines but a special experience for their visitors and guests.  I am looking forward to coming back in the future and reporting to
you their accomplishments and achievements.  Their work has begun and under their current leadership with persistence on focus and hard work, I assure
you if they stay the current course they will succeed.  Until next time....

Cheers!
The Raymond family and Napa's history are closely linked. Roy Raymond Sr. arrived in the Napa Valley in 1933 and was hired as a cellar worker at Beringer Brothers
Winery in St. Helena. It was there he met Martha Jane Beringer who became his wife in 1936.
The Beringer Winery was sold in 1971 and the Raymond family left to start making wine under the Raymond name. They purchased 90 acres just south of St.Helena in the
Rutherford appellation and had their first harvest in 1974.  A metal farm building functioned as their winery for the first few years. The grapes were unloaded with pitchforks
and shovels, and the tasting room and offices were in Roy Sr.'s backyard pool house! The quality of the wines attracted immediate attention from wine journalists,
competitions and the public. Raymond wines now earn accolades across the country for their elegance, balance and finesse.
Raymond has continued its tradition of family winemaking by becoming a part of the Bossiet Family Estates collection of wineries in August 2009. With the 2009 Fall
harvest came an increased commitment to producing the highest quality Napa Cabernet – select new Cabernet Sauvignon vineyards were added, and early in 2010
organic farming methods were implemented in pursuit of eventually achieving organic certification for the estate vineyards, a hallmark of Boisset properties worldwide.
Monday, August 30, 2010

Location:      849 Zinfandel Lane
                St. Helena, CA 94574
Temp.          72 F, Sunny
Time:           10:30 AM
2005 Meritage:  Red cherry, currant, cassis and lilac upfront on the nose.  Hints of oak, vanilla and cocoa.  Well structured and balanced, very smooth and has
a long lingering finish.  I highly recommend it to pair with steaks and chops.  This was my favorite.
Michelle Sitton (Left) and I
Stephanie Putnam (Left) and I
Private Wine Society
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