Walk into Raphael Winery and you’ll feel like you have stepped into a centuries-old Italian monastery. Large candle chandeliers hang from the high wooden ceilings and candle scones line the walls. White lights around the tasting bar give it a chic feel.
Downstairs, the barrel cellar’s hallways and ceilings are concrete and arched, with a seemingly endless number of barrels. The cellar is 12 feet under ground, which allows Raphael to make wines using a gentle gravity-flow method and create an energy efficient building that uses Earth’s natural 55-degree temperature to cool the winery in the summer and warm it in the winter. Inside a small gated room is some of Raphael’s early vintages, including the first label 1997 Merlot.
As the temperatures drop and we switch from light whites and rosés to reds, Raphael is the perfect North Fork destination. Opened in 2001 by Huntington’s John Petrocelli, the tasting room stocks crowd-pleasing merlots, like the 2010 First Label. The vintage, which was rated outstanding with 92 out of 100 points in a Wine Advocate review, is from grapes harvested during the best growing season in the 40-year history of Long Island Wine. If you didn’t get enough rosé this summer, try a glass of the 2014 Rose of Pinot Noir and taste the tart watermelon notes on the finish.
Meet winemaker Anthony Nappa in the October issue of Long Island Pulse Magazine, out Monday, Sept. 28.