Tasting at A. Rafanelli (4685 W. Dry Creek Rd., Healdsburg, 707/433-1385, www.arafanelliwinery.com) feels just about as different from the standard big-business high-end wineries of Wine Country as it’s possible to get. You can’t just walk in to A. Rafanelli, since they offer tastings by appointment only.
There’s no marble-covered bar, no chic tasting room. Instead, you’ll walk into the barrel room of the working winery and stand in the oak-and-grape-scented air on the concrete floor. The owner-winemaker will hand out glasses to your group, and you begin to taste some of the best red wines produced anywhere in Sonoma County.
In a region where the phrase “Cab is king” comes up at almost every winery, Rafanelli’s Cabernet Sauvignons are still special. If you can’t taste at Rafanelli, look for their Zins and Cabs at local Sonoma restaurants, to whom they sell the bulk of their wholesale wines.
© Liz Hamill Scott from Moon California, 2nd Edition