Above: Raymond Vineyards in St. Helena, California

Winemaker for a Day

We were first introduced to the wines from Raymond Vineyards aboard the Napa Valley Wine Train. Raymond produces its signature Chardonnay, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, and as all three were unexpectedly good, we added a stop at Raymond to our itinerary.

I was expecting a country house-style winery with an intimate tasting room, but instead we were greeted by a modern décor. An entire wall displayed golden hands clasping bottles of wines. We were given the tasting menu and a list of events hosted by the winery. The “Winemaker for a Day” experience caught our eye. Presenting friends with a bottle of wine that we had blended ourselves sounded like a unique gift. Risky, if we created a disastrous wine, but fun nonetheless.

As we made our way to the Blending Room, we were led down to the Crystal Cellar. There, to our astonishment, we found a glitzy space with chandeliers dripping from the ceilings and glass cases holding a glittering display of crystal decanters and flashy jewelry. It felt as if we had just stepped into a VIP suite in a Las Vegas nightclub. What had we just signed up for?

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