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Last year Margie Roelands joined Arkansas’ small, but growing (some might say elite) list of winemakers, opening The Raimondo Family Winery in Gamaliel, near Mountain Home.

The Raimondo Family Wineries’ roots go back to Palermo, Sicily. When Roelands’ grandfather Marty Raymondo moved to California, he incorporated his family’s traditional Sicilian methods into his own winemaking, producing two barrels a year for enjoyment with family and friends. (The winery name was originally spelled with a “y,” but after they discovered that the family name in Italian uses an “i” the winery name was changed.)

The wines were bottled as “Grandma and Grandpa Raymondo’s Family Wine.” In the late 1980s, Roelands’ uncle Tony Raymondo took over and increased production to nine barrels, turning the family tradition into a boutique business.

On a trip to Sicily, Tony discovered the family crest and Italian spelling of the family name.

In 2005, Tony’s daughter Lisa Garcia and Roelands joined the business, continuing the tradition of producing Old World varieties such as zinfandel, sangiovese, viognier and rousanne.

Roelands’ Arkansas connection began when a family member recommended the state as a place to relocate. After a Fourth of July weekend visit to Mountain Home she and husband Brian fell in love with the picturesque mountains and lakes of the Ozarks, so much so that they bought the Blue Lady Resort, nestled on a bluff overlooking Norfork Lake in Gamaliel. It was after moving to the Natural State that Margie realized her dream of turning the family winery into a commercially operated business, the Raimondo Family Winery.

Roelands’ husband, Brian, and daughters, Jennifer and Amy, are also active in the family business. Brian manages operations at the winery and resort, while the daughters help with bottling, labeling and promotions.

The Raimondo wines are produced and bottled here in Arkansas with grapes from California. Because of labeling laws you’ll see California on the front label and “produced and bottled in Arkansas” on the back. Eventually the winery plans to create wines using local fruit and they are continuously talking to local growers for the possibility of adding a few indigenous varieties to their unique offering of wines.

Raimondo wines are available at The Cellar at Blue Lady Resort in Gamaliel and select retailers throughout Arkansas.

  • 2007 Raimondo Family Winery Tempranillo, California/Arkansas (about $16 retail)
  • 2008 Raimondo Family Winery Zinfandel Old Vine, California/Arkansas (about $14 retail)
  • 2007 Raimondo Family Winery Barbera, California/ Arkansas (about $13 retail)
  • 2009 Raimondo Family Winery Viognier, California/Arkansas (about $15 retail)