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Água Viva

Filomena Rocha


verything has a genesis, a reason for being. Even in a paradise named Raymond Burr Vineyards, for which I dedicate my Agua

Viva. Roberto Benevides was born in Visalia, California, on February 9, 1930. Grandson on his paternal side, of Manuel Benevides from Ribeirinha, São Miguel island and grandma Luisa Glória, natural of Flamengos, Faial island. From his maternal side, grandson of João Nunes from Vila de Velas, São Jorge island and Maria Simas, natural of São Roque village, Pico island. Roberto graduated from Exeter Union High School in Exeter, California in 1948 and in the same year, started at UC Berkeley. In 1952, he enlisted in the US Army, where he served for two years during the Korean War, returning to the University of California where he completed his education, through the G.I. Bill, with a Bachelor's Degree in Theater Arts in 1955.



Raymond Burr Vineyards and the pursuit of two lives

mutual interest and understanding in the cultivation and care of orchids. In the following years, their mutual interest grew until it developed into a commercial venture. At the same time, Roberto was promoted to Executive Producer of their mutual company, RB Productions, which was associated with Universal Studios, launching the successful TV show: Ironside, which led them to buy an island in Fiji to raise cattle and coconuts. As if this wasn't enough, both leased the Estalagem of Santa Cruz, in the Faial island, Azores, for a fun filled year. In 1976, Benevides, at his father's advise, started to purchase acres of abandoned land in Sonoma County, close to his father's birthplace. Four years later, Burr & Benevides moved to an old farm in a parcel of land that Benevides has purchased. Ironside came to an end. The 3,000 acre island in the Fiji was sold, along with the

Roberto Benevides, Frank Baptista, Billy Katt and Barbara Hale

region: Tinta Cão, Tinta Madeira, Touriga Nacional and Tinta Roriz. Originally the Port was only for family and friends but found itself in European and South Ame-

full bodied and flavor, complex and full of joy. In a TV documentary made about North California wines, Burr reaffirmed that "one of the most important aspects

Roberto Benevides (left) from an episode of Perry Mason 1958

Raymond Burr and Barbara Hale

Afterwards he moved to Los Angeles to follow his dream as an actor, starting em various TV shows and some small roles in film. One of the TV shows which he worked on was Perry Mason, the program that would make a star out of Raymond Burr. Motivated, initially by a great friendship between Burr and Benevides, and their

newspaper, the Fiji Sun, as well as the Sleeping Giant gardens, which had been carefully planted full of their own orchids. Burr decided then that it was time to plant grapes. The first grapes were planted in 1986, consisting of Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, some Cabernet Franc for blending and a small variety of Port from the Douro

Five different varieties of Raymond Burr Vineyard wines

rican cellars. In 1990, the beautiful vineyards that faced the sun produced their first harvest, which was released in 1995. In 1992, the grapes were at their best, but Raymond Burr's health, at its worse. At that time, when he could have retired to see his garden bloom, and in order to protect his workforce of 200, he chose to dedicate himself to the TV show Perry Mason, two hours a day, for four out of the six weeks. He found time to oversee, protect and nurture his splendid grapes, spending time with his vintner, to sample the 1992 harvest fruit and some days prior to his passing, to witness the harvest. By coincidence and not by practice, Raymond Burr Cabernets are very similar:

of the vineyards are the workers' foot marks between the vines...And if those foot marks are not visible on the ground, they are probably pressed in the memories and hearts of the workers and people of the vineyard." PS - Raymond Burr did not want the wines with his name, but Roberto Benevides, his associate, colleague and partner for 33 years, after much deliberation and thought, decided that in this case, the parallel between the man and his wine could not be divided. It's not only a remembrance to Raymond Burr, but to his love of life and his ever presence spirit. Raymond Burr Vineyards is after all, the fruit of a great and eternal Friendship!

The Portuguese Tribune - October 1st 2013  
The Portuguese Tribune - October 1st 2013  

The Portuguese Tribune - October 1st 2013