A Visit to Raffaldini Vineyards
Barbecue. Pimento Cheese. Craft beer. Wine? Yes, wine. North Carolina is quickly becoming a leader in East Coast wine production, with over 100 wineries and
Believe it or not, the Swan Creek AVA outside of Winston-Salem lies on the same latitude as the Chianti region in Central-Southern Italy. With 50 planted acres the Raffaldinis have quickly established themselves as one of the premiere wineries in the Southeast. They produce a variety of Italian-styled wines, from Sangiovese to Montepulciano, and are one of only a handful of wineries in the United States to grow Vermentino, a grape native to Sardinia that has become their flagship white wine.
When you pull up the gravel drive to Raffaldini you might not know what to expect. Surrounded by modest farmhouses and fields of crops and cattle, it doesn’t seem like a place where you’d find an award-winning winery. As you come around a bend in the road, however, a magnificent Italian villa comes into view, situated at the top of a hill and surrounded by vineyards. You have arrived at Raffaldini.
The tasting room is intimate and welcoming, and an upstairs porch and event room along with an expansive outdoor patio offer gorgeous views of the surrounding valley. We tasted eight wines on our visit to Raffaldini, each exceeding our expectations of what “North Carolina wine” should and would be. From the 2011 Pinot Grigio (honored at the Denver International Wine Competition) to La Dolce Vita, a sweet sparkling Moscato that won Best in Category at the NC State Fair, all of Raffaldini’s offerings were impressive. I tend to be more of a red wine guy, and no surprise that my two favorites were two of Raffaldini’s reds; the 2010 Riserva (a Super Tuscan-style Sangiovese) and the 2010 Montepulciano (a classic red wine grape traditionally grown in the Abruzzo region of Italy). The Riserva is grown strictly from the Brunello grape and was also honored at the Denver International Wine Competition. The Montepulciano won Best in Show at the NC State Fair and ended up slightly edging out the Riserva to garner my top prize.
Raffaldini is a winery that is meant to be experienced, not just tasted. You can grab a hunk of local cheese or a snack from their cooler, buy a bottle of wine, and settle down on the patio to enjoy a light lunch and the magnificent views. At only 1.5-2 hours from the Triangle, it makes for a fantastic day trip with a loved one, group of friends, or just on your own! I was incredibly impressed with their operation and their wines, and I will definitely be returning to Raffaldini, friends and family in tow.
Tours daily at 1pm & 4pm, except Tuesdays. Tasting room closed Tuesdays.