Peconic, New York
By Christopher J. Davies
Raphael is the newest and grandest attraction in Long Island's wine country.
After three years of construction, the long awaited grand opening of Raphael became a reality last July. It is intriguing to note that the whole project took over eight years from vine to first bottle.
Most people taking their first sip of Raphael Merlot may not realize that Raphael's
initial step for making its wine began in 1993 when potato fields were specially prepared with nutrients to enable solid growth of grape vines. So if you do happen to get a taste of this new wine, take your time and appreciate what you are drinking! Sip, smell and take another sniff!
The Raphael building is a magnificent piece of architecture spanning some 28,000 square feet. Proprietor Jack Petrocelli is a master builder who has created many masterpieces during his distinguished career. The Raphael Winery Estate will undoubtedly be known as his greatest creation. Mr. Petrocelli has dedicated this new Estate Winery to the memory of his beloved Father Raphael.
The front of the winery resembles a Mediterranean-styled chateau with rust colored tiled roof and circular driveway with elegant water fountain. From the inside you will experience a massive open-spaced room with earth toned ceramic tile, high ceilings, tall arched renaissance-style windows and a circular tasting bar trimmed in oak to resemble a wine barrel. The building includes a number of spectacular chandeliers, elevations, stairways and treasures including it's own chapel.
Winemaker and GM, Richard Olsen-Harbich has strived to produce elegant tasting, Estate Bottled Merlot, while also successfully spearheading the application for Long Island's own appellation. Mr. Olsen-Harbich has worked closely with renowned consultant Paul Pontallier, Managing Director of Chateau Margaux in France, to develop a distinctive Estate Merlot and Table Red. Although Raphael's focus will be primarily on producing red wines, they have made a small supply of Sauvignon Blanc in the French chateau tradition. From a distance it is easy to see that the Raphael vineyard is extremely well maintained. Vineyard Manager Ben Sisson and Long Island grape growing expert Steve Mudd, have manage to yield a quality harvest these past several years.
Supplies of their first wines were very limited. So the winery actually had to allocate sales to only one bottle per visitor. To conserve their supply of wine the winery closed in January of this year for winter recess. They will reopen on Friday March 22, 2002 debuting a new vintage of wines.
If you are planning to visit the North Fork region, be sure to make this a stop. Be prepared for a different experience than had at most other tasting rooms. There is a nominal charge for tasting ($3.00). You will not find a Chardonnay on their tasting menu. Instead, you will experience intense fruit and smoky oak aged wines made in the traditional French style. Self-guided tours of their expansive grand hall and outer decks are free. Guided tours of the winery and lower level cellar and winemaking facility are offered for a fee. Don't miss their gift shop, which includes a splendid collection of high-end culinary items, giftware and elegant clothing.
Acreage planted: 60
Wine types: Merlot, Red Blend & Sauvignon Blanc (white)
Wheelchair accessible: Yes
Event hosting: Yes. Social & corporate events up to 180 persons
Landmarks: Raphael is located approximately 1/2 mile east of Pindar Vineyards and Lenz winery on the Main Road.
39390 Main Rd. (Rte 25)
Peconic, NY 11958
Tel. (631) 765-1100