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Engineer developed a taste for making wines

Rochester Business Journal
November 1, 2013

What started as a hobby has turned into a growing wine-making venture for Herb Raymor. He and his wife, Pam, opened Raymor Estate Cellars LLC in June 2011.
 
Herb Raymor makes the wines using locally grown grapes in a climate-controlled, two-story barn he built behind his home in Bloomfield, Ontario County.
 
The business mainly uses vinifera and hybrid grapes from Randall-Standish Vineyards in Canandaigua. Since 99 percent of the grapes come from one source, Raymor Estate Cellars is considered a farm winery, Raymor explains.
 
He worked as a systems engineer for roughly 30 years at Xerox Corp. before becoming vice president of retail operations at Heron Hill Winery in Hammondsport. He then went to Ultralife Corp. before leaving in 2011 and launching the winery.
 
Raymor says he developed his wine-making abilities over the years by working with other local vintners.
 
"There are tremendous resources in this area; people are very willing to help," he says.
 
Raymor, 61, and his wife, who is 62, are the sole employees of Raymor Estate Cellars. The business also has an intern from Finger Lakes Community College's viticulture program.
 
The farm winery currently offers 12 wine varietals ranging in price from $8.99 a bottle to $21.99 for the Cellar Reserve.
 
Raymor Estate Cellars wines are sold at liquor stores around the region. They are also available at a number of restaurants and taverns, sometimes as house wines developed for individual customers. The Cellar White semi-sweet dessert wine recently became available at the New York Wine & Culinary Center in Canandaigua.
 
The Raymors frequent local farm markets, festivals and fairs, offering people the chance to sample and purchase the wines.
 
They also have a private tasting room at their home, but they can bring the winery to consumers as well, offering private tastings at other locations. Custom packages are available for weddings and large events.
 
Raymor Estate Cellars' wines also can be purchased online. The business has out-of-state customers from California and Michigan.
 
A few of the wines have won awards. Raymor Estate Cellars' Iona white earned a gold medal in the 2012 New York Food and Wine Classic and the 2013 bronze medal at the Finger Lakes International Wine Competition. Its Autumn Harvest blended red wine and Seyval Blanc also have received praise in the industry.
 
The business will produce 2,500 gallons of wine this year, and Raymor's goal is to produce 10,000 gallons annually. The Raymors have begun to grow grapes on their land and hope to plant up to two acres.
 
They also keep up with the latest trends, using cloud-based technology to market the business and investing in high-quality equipment to produce the wines. Most of their business comes through word-of-mouth.
 
Herb Raymor is continuing to hone his craft and is considering reducing the number of wines he offers, focusing on the quality of each and continuing to improve them.
 
"My goal is to have everyone like at least one of the wines we have," he says.

Small Business is a biweekly feature focusing on entrepreneurs. Send suggestions for future Small Business stories to Associate Editor Smriti Jacob at sjacob@rbj.net.

11/1/13 (c) 2013 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email service@rbj.net.
 


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