My, how things have changed at Raymond Vineyards! We’d visited Raymond Vineyards in 2007 and in our blog post wrote “nondescript tasting room and nothing memorable about the winery.” Today it is alive with activity for the wine country traveler, with several wine tasting activities and educational experiences to choose from. We had a lively visit to Raymond Vineyards on Tuesday of this past week. Here is what we found and why we think you should visit Raymond Vineyards.
New owner at Raymond Vineyards – Jean-Charles Boisset
In 2011 Jean-Charles Boisset and Family purchased Raymond Vineyards from a Japanese company. This Japanese company had purchased the winery from the original owners, descendants of the Beringer Family who’d founded the winery in 1971. Jean-Charles Boisset is a dynamic individual who grew up with wine as the center of his life. This was in the Burgundy region of France where his family owns vineyards and wineries. Jean-Charles is affable, flamboyant, and loves to entertain wine country visitors. He also owns the Buena Vista Winery in Sonoma and the DeLoach Vineyards near Santa Rosa. He has done a remarkable job transforming each of these three wineries.
Drop-In Wine Tasting at Raymond Vineyards
In the main tasting room we dropped in without an appointment. We were offered two tastings: For $15 per person, it was a wine tasting of entry level wines that are widely distributed. The $25 tasting covers the current release of wines that are sold only at the winery or through the wine club. We chose the $25 tasting that included six wines. The tasting room has a great artistic display on the wall facing visitors. See the photo below. The wines we tasted were very good, but two for us were standouts. The Meritage White Wine is 95% Sauvignon Blanc and 5% Semillion. What makes this wine distinctive is that a portion has been fermented in neutral oak barrels. This gives the wine more depth and a wonderful mouth feel. The 2013 Pinot Noir Rosé had just been released. “Dry and refreshing” is the best way to describe this wine.
By Appointment tastings at Raymond Vineyards
Nearby the main tasting room are the Cystal Room, The Barrel Room, the Blending Room, the Rutherford Room, the Red Room, and the Library Room. Each of these features a different style or format for tasting. What winery have you been to that offers this many choices for tasting wine? In the blending room the actvitiy is “Winemaker of the Day.” For $100 you can work to create your own blend of wine, using all the same equipment the actual winemaker uses to craft his wine. Once done, you can take home your own bottle of wine. These tastings require an appointment, so book ahead.
Theater of Nature
The biggest change to the vineyards is the switch to biodynamic farming. Visitors can learn about biodynamic farming and other activities by taking the Theater of Nature trail. We bumped into the head gardener for the nature trail. I asked him about the vegetables growing and why they looked so healthy. “This is biodynamics in action,” he boasted. The veggie garden is used by the head chef for special events and tastings. You can spend an easy 45 minutes strolling this nature trial. It is quite informative, explaining the principles of Biodynamics and vineyard practices.
In one of the hallways, there is a station for experiencing the common aromas and flavors found in wine. We have seen these before, but not where they have worked as well to deliver authentic aromas to the nose. I wish there were more of these aroma stations, representing more of the common characteristics of wine.
The winery is on Zinfandel Lane and open daily from 10am to 4pm. It is a good idea to peruse the Raymond Vineyard Website and see which tasting experience you prefer. Call ahead for an appointment but, by all means, drop in and take in a few of the wine adventures at Raymond Vineyards.