One of the most important winery deals of the year was pulled off Aug. 10, with the dramatic announcement that Boisset Family Estates, which includes DeLoach and Lyeth, both in Sonoma County, has purchased Raymond Vineyard & Cellars, one of Napa Valley’s most veteran producers. Below, WE gets more information from Jean-Charles Boisset, President of Boisset Family Estates.
Wine Enthusiast: Why did you buy Raymond?
Jean-Charles Boisset: Because they have incredible family roots in beautiful Napa Valley, a wonderful heritage, and a really great location. Now we can bring real continuity to a lovely brand, and work closely with the Raymond family to bring further identity to them and expand.
WE: What is Raymond’s current production?
JC: 150,000 cases under Raymond and “R” Collection.
WE: What was included? Vineyards, inventory, brand name, and winery?
JC: All of the above.
WE: Will any of the family stay on?
JC: Yes, indeed. Walter [Raymond] is president and Krisi [Raymond] is vice-president. Margaret [Raymond] is in charge of the wine club and consumer relations and Craig, her husband, is vineyard manager.
WE: Raymond has actually been owned by Kirin, the Japanese beer company, since 1988. Do you know why they sold?
JC: I think they owned only one winery in America [Raymond], and they probably wanted to focus on their core business.
WE: How much did you pay?
JC: We don’t disclose that.
WE: Do you think the recession played in role in Kirin’s decision to sell?
JC: I think they were on a path to sell the winery. We’ve been interested in [buying something] in Napa Valley for many years, and specifically in the Raymond brand. I thought Raymond is in the perfect place in terms of price-quality ratio. Great family, a scale where we can possibly build, and an openness to look at further growth and quality tiers.
WE: Will you change any of the product lineup?
JC: Yes. Today the Raymond brand is well-positioned in the American economy for wines from $15-$50, with R Collection at the entry level, Napa Reserve with Cabernet and Chardonnay, and the Grand Reserve, Generations. All that is a focused product line, so this is not only to help the family continue ther dreams, but to add additional segments to the line. Perhaps other appellations: Oakville or Rutherford, [which would be] probably more expensive than Generations . But it’s very early to say.
WE: Are you looking for additional properties?
JC: Not as of now. We want to use each others’ relationships to further grow Raymond in the wine world. There’s a beautiful complementarity for us, with DeLoach in Russian River Valley and Raymond in Rutherford and Oakville. So we are very excited! And I want to add, I’m looking forward to working with a family that’s been here for so many generations. We’re not just getting with a nice winery, but more importantly, we’re working with fine human beings [i.e., the Raymonds].