Help us celebrate North Carolina's Wine Month by sharing this blog with your friends. We'll be featuring a vineyard every day this month, and all of them are members of the North Carolina Fine Wines Society.
If you can't make it to Italy, then at least make the trip to Raffaldini Vineyards in Ronda North Carolina. The distance on a map would be about 4,733 miles as the crow flies, but you won't need to burn those frequent flier miles for this Italian journey.
My wife and I have enjoyed Raffaldini wines going back several years, and slowly have watched the vineyard and its location mature. While we hadn't met the owners, we had met a lot of the staff and always appreciated a hearty welcome upon our arrival. That isn't unique. Our experience has been that each of the vineyards in North Carolina will shout out a welcome when you walk through the door and make you feel at home. I don't think I've been to a winery in North Carolina that doesn't make you feel special, appreciated, and welcome.
What will make you feel different at Raffaldini is the spectacular view from their Villa and tasting room. There are few places in North Carolina that have a prettier view than the hillsides at Raffaldini Vineyards in the Swan Creek. When we have visitors in from out of state, Raffaldini has never failed to wow them.
Now pair these views with their Italian varietals of wine, and you've got a great sensory overload: Sangiovese, Montepulciano, and Pinot Grigio are the familiar members of the Italian family. Then there are those distant relatives you've heard about but haven't seen in years: Sagrantino, Vermentino, and somehow someone let Petit Verdot marry into the family. Oh well, all are welcome at the table, Italian or not.
I first met Jay Raffaldini at his vineyard when he was doing a Spring Wine Club Release. I was researching destinations for a trip with 5 couples to the Brindisi region of Italy, and figured he may have advice on vineyards or wines to taste. He asked me to email him and he'd get us some ideas. And less than 24 hours later, Jay had a list of places to check out on our Italian escape.
About a year later, we were working as a team to help promote North Carolina vineyards and the quality of North Carolina's Fine Wines and collectively raise money for scholarships for North Carolina students attending North Carolina colleges pursuing wine related careers. We also soon found out that his email skills were right up there with his passion for wine.
One of the biggest events for Raffaldini Vineyards is their Festa Italiana event coming up on Saturday September 16th. This year marks their 12th time - a winemaker's case of parties. There will be food trucks and all kinds of activities for you and your friends to enjoy. And just like an Italian get together, you'll feel like you've found an extended family in the vines.
If you're looking for some other places to stop that day - don't forget to use our NC Fine Wines Map with its GPS capabilities to guide you to your next fine wine destination.
Cheers - Dan