A Monastery for Wine Lovers

Raphael has something a little different in store for visitors.
Savor the last days of warm weather on the front porch.
The wine cellar downstairs houses some of Raphael’s early vintages, including the First Label 1997 Merlot.
The vineyard produces crowd-pleasing wines that people from all over come to sip, indoors or out.
The 2014 Sauvignon Blanc is more citrusy than the 2014 First Label Sauvignon Blanc, which has notes of fruit-forward grapefruit.
Taste watermelon on the finish of the 2014 Rosé of Pinot Noir. It's a tart-flavored taste, like a jolly rancher.
Raphael is heaven on earth for Merlot lovers. The 2010 First Label Merlot comes from the best-growing season in the 40-year history of Long Island wine.

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.

beth ann clyde

beth ann clyde

Beth Ann Clyde is a Digital Editor of Long Island Pulse. Have a story idea or just want to say hello? Email bethann@lipulse.com or reach out on Twitter @BAClyde.