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‘03 A. Rafanelli Cabernet Sauvignon

It has been nine years since being introduced to A. Rafanelli wines and I owe it all to friends and friendly acquaintances.

In ’99 I was in the Dry Creek area visiting a friend, Ed, and his then girlfriend Jen, while he was acting as a caretaker to a friend’s house and working the Sonoma coast as a lifeguard.

We did a couple days of tasting in the area and hit some of the typical highlights—Hop Kiln, Lambert Bridge, Dry Creek Vineyard, a couple of quirky stops: F. Teldeschi, where the winemaker was pouring from scientific beakers and a little winery that Ed knew about that required an appointment—A. Rafanelli.

Met by Tony Rafanelli, the Jr. to the passed Senior Anthony Rafanelli, if I am not mistaken, we proceeded to chat and take in the facilities while my buddy Ed painted the edges on a potential abalone for vino deal.  After an incredibly generous tour of the facilities and the caves, we tasted through a couple of the wines.  The tasting portion didn’t take real long as, at the time, I believe, they just did the Zin and Cab., adding Merlot a bit later.

Completely stupefied at how incredible the wines were, but being in my mid-20’s at the time and not a spendthrift, I picked up just two bottles of the Zin at the then price of $24 a piece.  Ed did the same.

Those were precious bottles—wine to be held and not meritorious of opening up for any simple occasion, or date.

A couple of years later, 2003 I think, Ed and Jen were getting married with a no gifts policy.  Hmmm … what to do … I decided to give back one of the bottles of the A. Rafanelli Zin to Ed, and I had the bottle engraved at a local trophy shop with some occasion appropriate sentiment and wrapped it up.  It was a hit—nicely thoughtful and not consumer or consumption-oriented, a Buddhist-like ethos that Ed follows. 

That same year, as best man in my brother’s wedding, I put together a wine flight as his wedding gift—a bottle of wine for anniversary year 1, 3, 5, 10, 15, 20 and 25.  While I purchased all of the wine, except for year 1, I thought paying-forward the other bottle of A. Rafanelli was appropriate.  So, I stuck it in the slot for his 1 year anniversary.

This left me with a little problem, however.  I was out of A. Rafanelli wine with no immediate prospects for getting back out to Dry Creek to buy more.  They don’t sell online.  They don’t have a club.  They don’t sell via the phone.  You were either on the list, or you bought it at the tasting room.  And, not only that, but I had not had any since I sipped a humble pour in the tasting room four years prior.

Nectar of the gods this is, out of wine I was.

Flash-forward to 2006 and I am at about the year seven mark in a Rafanelli dry spell and I make acquaintances with Josh from  I forget exactly how the circumstances played out, but I think I hinted at, and I think he magnanimously volunteered to pick up some A. Rafanelli on my behalf at the winery.  I was in business!  He booked an appointment, picked up three bottles of Cabernet and three bottles of the Zinfandel sometime in the late spring of ’06, and shipped them off to me, a favor that, without being overly maudlin, I really, really, really appreciated.

I was back in business.

I drank one bottle of the Zinfandel with my brother at the start of Notre Dame’s football season in ’06, a close win over Georgia Tech, and I gave a bottle of Cabernet to a friend who had just taken a new job that was a significant step up the ladder.  Left with four bottles, precious commodities they still are.

However, having kind of glossed over celebrating Valentine’s Day with my wife on Thursday for a host of valid reasons, we decided to have our NY strips in a béarnaise sauce last night.  I pulled the A. Rafanelli Cabernet.

It was delicious, as was the food and the company of my wife.  So, you see, this is what wine means to me, it is not just the actual occasion and the quality of the wine with the food; it is also the back-story that goes along with it.  To me, A. Rafanelli represents a great visit to Dry Creek Valley, a visit with my dear friends Ed and Jen, two weddings, one of which is one of my best friends and the other is my twin brother who is my best friend.  Wine is also the kindness of friends made digitally with a generosity of spirit that exceeds normal convention, a ND victory, a celebratory job occasion and Valentine’s Day with my wife, who gives me far more grace than I deserve.  These are all brilliant memories, framed by a wine from a winery that doubtlessly threw away the visitor log long ago—the one that said: Jeff L., Indianapolis, IN.  “Great wine.  Thanks for the visit.”

That is why I love wine. 

And, hell, all that aside, the A. Rafanelli is damn good by itself—you know, if you happen to be in the area without any mental baggage for this and that and want some good vino. 
My review can be found here.


Posted in, Free Run: Field Notes From a Wine Life. Permalink | Comments (9) |


On 02/17, Noble Pig wrote:

I also have had my love affair with A. Rafanelli wines.  They are such a good example of beautiful hand-crafted wine.  Thanks for reminding me of my past tastings.

On 02/18, Mark V Marino wrote:

I have always preferred the Zinfandel I started drinking it when it was $5 a bottle back in the early 1980’s If you have trouble let me know I am out there all the time doing tours, you seem to really love it!  Good blog, good article, thanks!

On 02/23, Josh wrote:

Are you hinting that you might need some more Raf?


I could use an excuse to head out there again…

On 02/25, Jeff wrote:

Ha, Josh.

No, I’m not hinting, just yet.  Next time I’ll just out and out ask!  grin

Oh, how I love Rafanelli.  And, it should be noted, I’m eager to be a charter member of the Capozzi wine club, as well. 

All the best,


On 10/23, bono wrote:

Some of these comments people are saying here on this issue really seem to make me look at this in a whole new way. I do enjoy the responses though.

On 08/01, boxsetcollection wrote:

Some of these comments people are saying here on this issue really seem to make me look at this in a whole new way. I do enjoy the responses though

On 10/20, kostenlos poker spielen wrote:

Very informative article. Pretty sure people would love to go to that place for shopping. Specially to those who are semi naughty or semi conservative people.

On 02/18, wedding cakes wrote:

That indeed is one precious gift a newly wed.

On 07/17, Cilt bakimi wrote:

Mutlu bir yuva ancak güzel bir kadınla umulduğu gibi olur şişman ve çirkin bir kızla kimse mutlu olamaz. Güzellik eğer kadın doğal hali ile güzelse olur ve cilt bakımı yaparak kendini sevdirirse.


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