Raymond Vineyard and Cellar

849 Zinfandel Lane,
St. Helena, California 94574
by Sergio Sismondo


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Drive up on Route 29, towards Calistoga, just past Rutherford, and you will find Zinfandel Lane. Turn right on Zinfandel Lane and immediately you will find the entrance to the Raymond Vineyard and Cellar, on your right. Drive in, and if you like good wines, you will not be disappointed.

Raymond Vineyard and Cellar is located on a ninety acre estate at the boundary between St. Helena and Rutherford. To say that this is prime viticultural land is a major understatement. It is in the center of Napa Valley, just along the Napa River, in one of the valley's widest parts, the vines benefiting from a maximum of sunlight. The soil has the legendary characteristics of St. Helena

and Rutherford. The microclimate is quintessential Napa Valley. This exquisite parcel of land was purchased by the Raymond family between 1970 and 1971.

Roy Raymond Jr., Walter Raymond and Craig Raymond, who together manage all aspects of the vineyards and winery, are fourth and fifth generation descendants of two lines of renowned Napa Valley wine makers, The Beringers and the Raymonds.

Today, Raymond Vineyard and Cellar magnificently brings together the qualities of superb terrain and five generations experience in great wine making. The great wines made at this winery are ample testament to both.

The tasting room is spacious, but yet cosy, quiet and dignified. The wines tasted are exceptionally fine, with a range of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet-Sauvignon and Merlot. Quality is the emphasis in each case. In addition to wines, there is an attractive display of wine and kitchen accessories for sale.


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OUR CHOICES

Following is a list of the wines along with our ratings for each.

Cabernet-Sauvignon Napa Valley Reserve, 2001 89
Cabernet-Sauvignon Napa Valley Reserve, 2002 90(1)
Cabernet-Sauvignon Napa Valley Reserve, 2003 90
Cabernet-Sauvignon Rutherford, Reserve, 2001 91
Cabernet-Sauvignon Rutherford, Reserve, 2002 92(2)
Cabernet-Sauvignon Rutherford, Reserve, 2003 91
Cabernet-Sauvignon St. Helena, Reserve, 2001 90
Cabernet-Sauvignon St. Helena, Reserve, 2002 92
Cabernet-Sauvignon St. Helena, Reserve, 2003 92
Cabernet-Sauvignon "Generations", 2000 90
Cabernet-Sauvignon "Generations", 2002 92
Cabernet-Sauvignon "Generations", 2003 92
Chardonnay Napa Valley Reserve, 2003 89
Chardonnay Napa Valley Reserve, 2004 90(3)
Chardonnay Napa Valley Reserve, 2004 90
Chardonnay, Late Harvest, n.y. 90
Merlot Napa Valley Reserve, 2001 89
Merlot Napa Valley Reserve, 2002 90(4)
Merlot Napa Valley Reserve, 2003 90(7)
Merlot Rutherford, Reserve, 2001 91
Merlot Rutherford, Reserve, 2002 92(5)
Sauvignon Blanc Napa Valley Reserve, 2003 90
Sauvignon Blanc Napa Valley Reserve, 2004 90(6)
Sauvignon Blanc Napa Valley Reserve, 2005 89

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(1) This excellent wine is a blend of 92% Cabernet-Sauvignon, 6% Cabernet Franc, and 2% Merlot. It won a Gold Medal at the taster's Guild International Wine Competition.

(2) This wine is a blend of 96% Cabernet-Sauvignon and 4% Merlot. It has characteristic aromas and palate of Rutherford wines, noticeably with hints of plums, cherries and chocolate. A brilliantly balanced and rich wine. Marvellous!

(3) This 100% Chardonnay wine -- dry, crisp, fruity -- won a Gold Medal at the San Diego International Wine Competition. It also won Silver Medals at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition and the Hilton Head International Wine Competition.

(4) This excellent wine -- rich, full-bodied -- is a blend of 88% Merlot and 12% Cabernet-Sauvignon. It won a Gold Medal at the Taster's Guild International Wine Competition. See also below, Best Value for Money.

(5) Sold at the winery only (400 cases produced). This wine is a blend of 96% Merlot and 4% Cabernet-Sauvignon. It has typical aromas and flavours of Rutherford, with a strong fruit component. It is a particulartly excellent wine for those of us that have a personal preference for that unique "Rutherford taste".

(6) See below, Best Value for Money.

(7) This Merlot is a must to buy, at $24 retail it is a bargain for the quality. Drink now or put away. We purchased several bottles to put away for two or three years, but it may safely be aged another six years.


Best Value for Money

  • Our choice for best value for a white wine goes to the Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley Reserve, 2004, which is priced to retail at $14 and received our rating of 90. Brilliantly clear. Herbacious. Spicy. A truly neat Sauvignon Blanc. I should point out also that the Raymond Sauvignon Blanc appears twice in the short list of ten best wines we have tasted which are priced at $14 or under!

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  • Our choice for best value for a red wine goes to the Merlot, Napa Valley Reserve, 2002, which is priced at $24 and received our rating of 90. This wine won a Gold Medal at the Taster's Guild International Wine Competition, and 90 points also at the California State Fair Wine Competition. If you like big cabs, you will also love this Merlot, with its flavors of plums, cherries, chocolate and more. It is a wine with unusually rich structure and substantial complexity.

A word about the Cabaña Club.

Raymond also offers a mail order Cabana Club with three distinct programs. (1) A "Library" program with the best current and past vintages. (2) Rutherford Reds. (3) And, Red and White "Mixed Grill". And in each case a choice can be made for three or six shipments per year. Club membership entitles the buyer to a 20% discount on wines and non-wine merchandise. For more information see: wineclub@raymondwine.com; or visit their website: www.raymondvineyards.com.

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