From the road the property may seem like a traditional Napa Valley winery, but when you step a little closer you begin to see the exotic in this place.
Right now the winery is prepping itself to host today’s Napa Valley Barrel Auction so it’s in the spotlight – a place in which that charismatic Frenchman Jean Charles Boisset is comfortable.
Boisset, of Boisset Family Estate, heads up his family’s interests in North America, and he bought Raymond Vineyards in 2009. In addition to giving it an environmental overhaul, he’s also recalibrated it with a playful sense of fun.
As for its eco-prowess, the winery now has its organic and biodynamic certifications, as well as a commitment to using solar energy with the panels to prove it.
The intrigue of biodynamic can be explored in the “Theatre of Nature,” a two-acre exhibit on eco-friendly farming and it delves into soils, vineyards and animals, among other things.
Other hands on adventures include:
The “Corridor of the Senses,” a hallway devoted to giving tasters a rich understanding of the experience. It has several features, including a line-up of aromas that include honey, coffee, cherry and vanilla.
The “Crystal Cellar,” a place where people learn the art of decanting with a collection of historical crystal decanters from Baccarat, a premier maker of crystal. The whimsical cellar is a kick with its playful touches, including a manikin on a swing dangling by the bar in true Cirque du Soleil fashion.
The “Blending Room,” a place for those who want to play winemaker and create bottled magic. They’ll make a Bordeaux-style blend and even create a label.
The arching goal here is to educate, explained Patrick Egan of Raymond. “Every room has something to teach you.”
Egan said the hands-on approach is drawing a diverse demographic, including the Millennials, the offspring of the baby boomers ages 21 to 31.
The Crystal Room has a costume ball that routinely sells out and it’s weighted to a younger crowd — ages 25 to 31.
We can expect more clever wineries to follow Boisset’s lead and begin to offer more than tasting bar. Much much more.