Tuesday, December 12

Raimondo Wines

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Raimondo Wines

Many good things have come from Italy and Sicily including various foods and wines.The Raimondo family who lived in PalermoSicily started to make fine wines during the latter part of the 1800’s. Marty Raimondo, the present owner’s grandfather, started the business in southern California and it has been passed down from generation to generation. Tony Raimondo, Marge’s uncle went back to Sicily in 1985, to learn more about the old ways of making fine wines.The present owner Marge Roelands had to overcome a couple of obstacles in order to carry on with the business.Her uncle was not sure a woman could become a proficient wine maker because of her gender. She did however have another advantage; she grew up around the business. The Raimondo Wines are fine beverages and set very high standards for their products.She had to prove that she could learn the various procedures for making the wines to the high standards required.Guess what!She did it in spades! She worked with her uncle for four years before she attempted to make her own wine. She also worked with other wine makers learning the secrets of making good wine.

She got involved in the process from selecting the grapes to the various ways of making and aging the wines. She goes to California and works with the grape growers and actually goes out and picks some of the grapes. Not only is that a good learning experience but she gets to test the grapes for the quality she demands. There is nothing like hands on experience to learn the business. The vineyards will actually cut off some bunches of grapes and throw them on the ground. That is so the rest will get the proper amount of sun in order to ripen correctly.The criteria for selecting grapes are the brix, ripeness and moisture.They test them on site to insure quality. The brix is the amount of sugar in the grape and that determines the alcohol content.When the yeast is put into the grape mix it eats the sugar and turns into alcohol. If the sugar content is too low then there is little or no alcohol and too much sugar produces a wine that is too strong. They also have to be ripe without being overly so in order to make a good wine. The moisture content can be worked with to an extent during the aging process. Depending on the type of wine it is aged from 1 & ½ to 4 & ½ years in oak barrels under a strictly controlled environment.She has studied under various wine masters and continues to do so. In fact she is planning on a two week trip to Sicily to enhance her considerable knowledge.I have interviewed her at length and I have found out that she has a lot of knowledge and passion for this business.She is determined to be the best in the business and I for one won’t bet against her. Her husband also helps out in fact he built the wine cellar and labels all of the bottles by hand. While the business is small it is growing and with the word getting out about their fine products, it is growing.

Various wines are made from different grapes grown all over the globe.Different grapes make different wines and Marge travels to various locations to select the proper grapes for her wines. She is very picky and the grapes are grown without pesticides or other artificial means. While that makes the grapes more expensive it also results in better tasting wines. She makes contracts with the growers and they are obligated to provide the very best grapes available. Poor grapes make poor wines and anyone buying a Raimondo wine doesn’t have to worry about that. If the grapes aren’t up to the high standards demanded by the Raimondo wine business they never see in inside of the winery but go somewhere else who doesn’t have such high standards.There are no shortcuts employed in making their wines and the quality proves that.I am not a wine maker so I am learning a lot about the art of wine making and it is an art if done correctly. Each wine is named after the grape used in producing it. For instance a Zinfandel grape makes a Zinfandel wine.There are various variations of Zinfandel wines using grapes grown in different regions and there may be another grape added such as a Mission grape. One blend consists of 90% Zinfandel and 10% mission.I could probably write a book about the various wines but I am sure that has been done many times.For a list of their wines you can go to http://www.raimondowinery.com/ for more info. If you can’t find it in your area not to worry they can ship it to you though some states prohibit wine shipments to private homes but you should be able to have it shipped to a business.They have a wine cellar on the premises and wine tasting’s are available upon request. That in itself is a treat. They also host events such as weddings so you can call Brian or Marge for details. The wines are kept there at a strictly controlled temperature environment of 60 degrees. They are coming out with new wines such as the 2007 Passione Red and 2008 Petite Sirah.The 2009 Chardonnay wine uses grapes that are not pressed but free-run drained overnight.While I not a connoisseur of fine wines I do know the difference between a good and bad wine. These are the goods wines well worth their modest prices.

Another idea is they also run a great fishing resort where you can relax in the Ozarks while enjoying a glass of great wine. For info on the fishing you can go to http://www.blueladyresort.com/ for info on renting a cabin and the fishing possibilities.Hiking and sightseeing are also in the mix for interested parties. If you are a deer hunter then you are in luck they are all over the place. They also host events there and they will be glad to give you details on those.

Another facet of their business is their fine balsamic vinegars and olive oils. Like grapes there is a large verity of olives and they are used to make various olive oils. The type and area where the olives are grown dictate which flavor the oil is. Olives are picked three times a year with spring mid summer and winter depending on which country they come from. Many countries grow olives including Italy, Spain, Greece, Australia and the US. The best quality is the first press which is called extra virgin which is more expensive but the best. The quality is determined by the amount of poly phenol which is in the oil. It should be 50 units but the Raimondo Winery doesn’t buy any that is less then 84 units. Poly Phenol is an anti oxidant and some studies indicate that it helps fight breast cancer. The second press is called virgin and it goes down to the fifth press which is used in making candles. The third and fourth presses are used in lower quality olive oil. Olive oil is not aged like the wines or vinegars so the faster it gets to the market the better.

The balsamic vinegars traditionally come from Modena, Italy. The Traditional is the most expensive though they also make regular balsamic vinegars. The traditional is very expensive because of the time consuming process required to make it. The base is called must which is the left over grape after it is squeezed into wine. That includes the skins and remaining juices. It is boiled into a thick fluid and put into barrels for aging. It can be aged anywhere from 12 years on up depending on the type of vinegar. As it oxidizes it is put into progressively smaller barrels each made from a different type of wood. Each wood influences the flavor until it ferments into balsamic vinegars. They are aged in buildings in attics with metal roofs. During the day the area is closed to generate heat then opened up at night to allow cooling. This process is repeated until the vinegar is properly aged. The vinegars made in Italy are regulated by some laws regarding tastes, quality, and color. A committee does the tasting and quality control to make sure it is up to the high standards.

For a chef in a fine restaurant these vinegars and oils are just the ticket for your customer’s who like a fine salad. You can make various blends of these products to suit your customer’s need. They flavor a salad just right without that heavy oily taste that a lesser product will produce.For healthy cooking the olive oils are just the way to go. Just imagine a fine steak with mushrooms cooked in one of these oils. I would bet that some of these oils will enhance the flavor of a fish such as a salmon with lemon flavored oil. Kind of makes your mouth water doesn’t it. A restaurant can serve these wines with good food to enhance the customer’s eating experience.

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