You can’t visit a winery much older in Dry Creek than A. Rafanelli. Four generations have worked the land growing grapes and making wine here. Alberto and Letizia Rafanelli began planting and farming in the early 1900’s and today David Rafanelli and his daughter Shelly continue the farming and the production of truly excellent wine.
The tasting room is as traditional as they get. Just a couple of tables are set among the barrels, a few gift opportunities scattered about, old photos and a slew of awards on display in a case as you walk in. For me it was like returning to Sonoma in the 1980’s when nearly all tasting were held like this.
The Rafanelli family owns 85 acres of vineyard and makes around 11,000 cases of wine each year. The crush facility is an old horse barn connected to an extensive cave system that was excavated in the 1990’s. Our host Tom graciously took us on a tour of both.
Rafanelli focuses entirely on producing exceptional Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot wines. Poured for us that afternoon were the 2019 Zinfandel, the 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon, and the 2018 Merlot. They are produced in small quantities, often selling out to their wine mailing list making them difficult to get.
Tasting three great wines was indeed wonderful, but the personal touch of having David Rafanelli join us and share his knowledge and stories was what made this tasting particularly special. I left knowing so much more about the nuances of cork and why you might choose to use a chateau barrel over a normal French barrel. But most of all when I left it was with an unusually good feeling knowing the wine I just purchased was made by a family with so much respect for the land and with enthusiasm and love for winemaking.