Raffaldini Vineyards and Winery
Summary: An absolutely lovely destination spot awaits the visitor to Raffaldini Vineyards and Winery. You will have a chance to experience Tuscany in North Carolina, and taste several Italian-styled wines.
Over a mile away on a hilltop we spotted a Tuscan-styled building. Following very well marked signs from the Interstate we arrived at the entrance to Raffaldini Vineyards and Winery. We were immediately reminded of the two weeks we spent on a vineyard outside of San Gimignano in the Tuscan area of Italy. The Raffaldini family has captured the essence of the Tuscan countryside here in North Carolina.
A long gravel road leads up the hillside to the parking area. Along the road vineyards cover the landscape. The traditional placement of roses at the end of the rows of vines adds splashes of color. These are but a few of the 800 rose bushes used throughout the landscape. From the parking area you walk along well-marked paths to the tasting room. Take time to amble along this path. This is one of the most beautifully landscaped vineyards and wineries we have visited. Your trek will take you past hundreds of rose bushes, ponds and an assortment of trees and shrubs.
The spacious tasting room opened spring of 2008. We spied a dish of grapes on the tasting counter. During harvest a cluster of grapes is brought from the vineyard for guests to taste. Wine grapes may surprise you if you are only use to tasting store bought table grapes. Wine grapes are much sweeter and have much more flavor. One wonders why they are not sold in grocery stores since they are much tastier. The curved tasting counter can accommodate several people for wine tastings. Outside the tasting room is a patio with several tables. Some of the tables can seat at least six people. The views of the vineyards, hills and distant mountains make this area a wonderful respite for travelers.
A large event room is on the second floor of the tasting room facility. It has a large tasting bar and corner fireplace. The many windows offer views of the vineyards and mountains, however for an even better view walk outside on the deck that surrounds the event room on two sides. You will get a sense of the rolling hills of vineyards. Depending on the time of year, you may see grape clusters hanging from the vines. We noticed there are older vines and newer vines. Some of the grapevines planted on the property did not produce as well as they needed to in order to meet the high standards for winemaking. As a result they were pulled out and replanted with those varietal grapes that do an excellent job in this terroir. The vineyards lay in two viticulture areas, the Yadkin Valley AVA and the Swan Creek AVA. The Swan Creek AVA was designated in 2008.
The vineyards comprise 43 acres. Grape varieties include Sagrantino, Petit Verdot, Malbec, Montepulcino, Sangiovese, Vermentino, Pinot Grigio and Muscato. Many of these grapes are grapes commonly grown in Italy. There is a love of the Italian heritage and a passion for Italian wine. Currently Raffaldini Vineyards and Winery produces about 6,500 cases of wine.
We tasted several of the wines produced here. Pinot Grigio offered apple and mineral notes. The crisp finish had a hint of citrus. This was a tasty 3P (patio, porch, or pool) wine – not at all boring. Vermentino 2011, their flagship white wine was a light yellow. Citrus notes were throughout the wine. The taste was sweet and smooth. The finish was crisp. Frizzante was a blend of Malbec and Traminette. The wine with light red fruit notes was effervescent, dry and refreshing.
Sangiovese 2010 was a red color. The wine had cherry notes on the aroma and taste. The crisp finish had mild tannins and hints of cherry. Montepulciano was a ruby color. The wine offered dark fruit notes with a hint of perfume. The crisp and fruity finish had bold tannins.
La Dolce Vita had a sweet fruity aroma. The taste had a hint of effervescence and was sweet. The wine lingered on the finish.
The winery is located on the property, a short drive through the vineyards. At the time of our visit, several stainless steel tanks were cold stabilizing the wine. The barrel room is in a temperatured controlled room. Barrels stacked up to three high were aging wines.
Raffaldini Vineyards and Winery is a must see destination. If you have never traveled to Tuscany, you’ll have an opportunity to get a feel for the Tuscan countryside and good Italian-styled wines.
Raffaldini Vineyards & Winery
450 Groce Road
Ronda, North Carolina
GPS: N 36° 17.808’ W080° 89.184’