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by Fred McMillin
Pick a Fight
Fighting Varietal is a term coined by wine marketing consultant Ed Everett in 1983. It referred to low-priced varietal wines with cork stoppers that contrasted with screw-capped jugs.
...From C.L. Sullivan's new California Wine Companion
The Rest of the Story
So Amberhill and the term "fighting varietal" arrived about the same time. and Amberhill Chardonnay won the fight. Not so long ago it took first place in the Beverage Testing Institute competition. Current sales are 70% ahead of the prior year. President Roy Raymond Jr.says the numbers indicate sales will reach the 500,000 case level sooner than expected. Where to get the grapes for this expansion??
Whence the Grapes
The Raymond family knows a thing or two about the wine business. Roy Sr. started it all, going to work for Beringer the year Prohibition ended and the Napa Valley was springing to life. It was 1933. He founded the Raymond Winery in 1974. Sons Roy Jr. And Walter continued the success. Roy Jr.'s son, Craig, now manages the vineyards, and one of them supplies those Chardonnay grapes...300-acres planted in 1990-1991, not in the Napa Valley but in a marine-cooled portion of Monterey...crisp, green-apple flavors.
1997 Amberhill Chardonnay, California
The Raymond Winery was quick to recognize that they would need more Chardonnay vineyards for Craig to manage in the '90s. However, Craig says he wasn't always so fast. As a boy he loved to help in the vineyards, but got some heat from granddad Roy Sr. who said he "wasn't quick enough" at picking. Today, he says his job is to "get top-quality grapes to the winery." Fortunately, he no longer has to pick 'em!
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