Story By: Layne Randolph // Photos By: Scott Chebegia
Bringing the Inside Out
Jean Charles Boisset, the proprietor of the eponymous Boisset Collection, is a champion of innovative approaches to luxury, exquisite fine wine, and tradition and history in northern California and his native France.
As usual, Boisset has been busy cooking up projects to enchant guests and raise the bar for the Napa Valley wine experience. Now that warmer weather has arrived in California, Boisset is unveiling the fruits of his labor. He is rolling out VIP tastings in private cabanas at Boisset Collection’s Raymond Vineyards and outdoor garden wine tastings at the 1872 Post Office Building, home to the company’s Elizabeth Spencer Winery. And the Boisset Collection just inked a collaboration with truffle connoisseurs American Truffle Company (ATC) to cultivate truffles at Raymond Vineyards.
Raymond Vineyards has always been about the ultimate in sensory enjoyment with tasting experiences like the Crystal Cellar, inspired by the traditional candlelit cellars of France, where guests sample Raymond’s signature Cabernet Sauvignon beneath Baccarat chandeliers, and the Red Room Lounge, an opulent all-red velvet room, where guests enjoy bottle service while relaxing and playing cards or perusing the collection of unique books.
With pandemic-required measures all but a thing of the past, it is time for another kind of sensory experience, the kind bestowed by Mother Nature: fresh air, sunshine, and in the case of Raymond, a glorious oasis with a view of vineyards in every direction. There is something about sipping a fabulous glass of wine among the vineyards that awakens our senses. To add to this magical atmosphere, Boisset has added the ultimate in luxurious, relaxing wine tasting experiences.
Raymond Vineyards gave its outdoor space, The Grove, a revitalization this year, with Parisian bistro-themed furnishings oozing understated elegance in a hideaway shaded by rows of sycamore trees and vineyards. The convivial host Boisset knows that wine tastings al fresco encourage guests to slow down and stay awhile.
In addition to the refurbished Grove, Raymond upped the sensory ante with “The Oasis at Raymond Vineyard,” an exclusive tasting experience. Guests are treated like VIPs in one of four private cabanas. Nestled underneath a lush canopy of twenty-six majestic Medjool palm trees and enclosed by flowering plants and shrubs, star magnolia, blue spruce, and coastal oak trees. In this picturesque sanctuary, guests enjoy private and personalized bottle service in a secluded paradise while gazing at sweeping views of vineyards and the Mayacamas and Vacas Mountain ranges in the distance.
Another Boisset property and iconic Napa Valley spot, the recently acquired Elizabeth Spencer Winery’s historic 1872 Post Office building, lies in the undisputed “heart” of Napa Valley, Rutherford, a wine lover’s premier destination. Rooted in history and strategically located on Hwy 29 between Yountville and St. Helena, the scenic courtyard and outdoor gardens are ideal spots for boutique outdoor tastings of Elizabeth Spencer’s small-production wines from Napa, Sonoma, and Mendocino. The winery’s outdoor pavilions are the perfect place to unwind, sample the Elizabeth Spencer portfolio of wines, enjoy a grazing-style menu of artisanal cheese, charcuterie, salads, cold pastas, and house-made macarons, and perhaps stir up a friendly competition with one of the board games provided.
“As a Frenchman, Rutherford has been a dream of mine for many years. It breathes the story of wine and the origins of this great valley,” said Boisset. “The 1872 brick post office building is a gem of Napa’s history, and we intend to continue to be its steward, as [founders and husband-and-wife-team Elizabeth Pressler and Spencer Graham] have done so well.” As Boisset knows all too well, an outdoor atmosphere can be peaceful and create a festive, fun setting. At Boisset Collection-restored, historic Oakville Grocery, the oldest continuously operating grocery store in California, guests enjoy wood-fired pizza, artisan sandwiches, or gourmet picnic fare with a glass of wine while watching the goings-on along the original pathway into the valley. Guests can also tour the 1881 Napa Valley Wine Museum next door.
The Boisset Collection is constantly innovating, searching for the next wonderful thing to add to its Napa Valley experiences. To add a new and highly anticipated addition to The Boisset Collection, Boisset recently partnered with the American Truffle Company (ATC), the truffle science and cultivation leader in North America, to cultivate Périgord black truffles at Raymond Vineyards. This marriage of Boisset’s luxury wine and spirits, food, and home and lifestyle goods portfolio and ATC’s leading truffle brand, advance Old and New World traditions with the best cutting-edge truffle science possible.
Born in Burgundy, France, Boisset is no stranger to truffles. “We are fortunate to work with ATC to be early pioneers for growing Périgord black truffles in the Napa Valley,” he shared.
Périgord black truffles are among the most expensive foods in the world, routinely commanding over $1,000 per pound, and they have been produced almost exclusively in Europe. However, ATC found that Northern California’s wine-growing regions offer particularly suitable climates and soil for truffle cultivation.
Boisset could barely contain himself when he said, “To be able to revel in the experience of cultivating truffles in harmony with nature; to be able to grow them on our land and make an epicurean delicacy from the Old World locally available to the New, and to share it all with our guests at dinners and events is a dream!”
Boisset will complement ATC’s efforts in truffle distribution by sharing them with restaurants and chef clientele at the Oakville Grocery, Raymond Vineyards, and select JCB (Jean-Charles Boisset) events and VIP dinners.
With more than twenty-six historical and prestigious still and sparkling wineries in the world’s preeminent terroirs, including Burgundy, Beaujolais, Jura, the Rhône Valley, the south of France, and California’s Russian River Valley and the Napa Valley, the Boisset Collection keeps raising the bar when it comes to extravagant guest experiences.
“We have always believed in providing the best, highest quality products and ingredients to passionate food and wine lovers. We love Napa Valley. We want to be in every village of our valley,” Boisset gushed.
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