by Fred McMillin
for April 18, 1997
1933—The Napa Valley springs to life as Prohibition ends. Roy Raymond goes to work for one of the area's few wineries, Beringers.
1936—Roy marries Martha Jane Beringer, granddaughter of founder Jacob Beringer. Soon they are joined by Roy Jr. And then Walter.
1970—Martha and Roy Sr. sell the Beringer Winery to the Nestle corporation.
The Rest of the Story: By the time of the sale, Roy Jr. And Walter were fully up to speed...college educated and plenty of experience in the Beringer cellar and vineyards. So, Roy Sr. And "Roy's boys" created their own winery. Walter made the first vintage in 1974 and still oversees the winemaking 23 vintages later. Roy Jr. became Marketing Director.
The Three Vineyards The original Raymond vineyard was a 90-acre parcel in the central Napa Valley... prime Cabernet Sauvignon country. Little wonder that their Cabs soon were rated among California's best. Subsequently they bought another 78 acres, this time in the cooler Jameson Canyon in southern Napa County. This gives Walter a premier Pinot Noir location and he's putting it to very good use; my tasters just tried his high-octane '93 RESERVE Pinot Noir and loved it...vibrant fruit in harmony with French oak vanilla and spice. $17.
The latest acquisition is 300 Chardonnay-friendly, cool acres in Monterey County's Salinas Valley...providing Walter with crisp, green-apple flavors for his Chardonnay.
If you have gotten the impression that the Raymond winery is a dynamic operation making bigger and better wines, you're right.
Just the Facts
Postscript: We mentioned that the Raymond brothers split the duties, Walter in operations, Roy Jr. in finance. A century earlier, their great-grandfather and his brother divided the duties at their new Napa Valley winery the same way. That is, Jacob Beringer raised the grapes and Frederick Beringer raised the cash.
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