Dear A. Rafanelli,

We hope this letter finds you well. More importantly, we regret that in recent years we haven't spent as much time together.

We opened a bottle of wine tonight and thought of you. Your Zinfandels are absolutely fantastic.

It is inexcusable, but the last time we visited Dry Creek Valley was the summer of 2006. Several months before our visit, the itinerary started taking form. This process consisted of choosing our favorite stops, making some appointments, and positioning the subsequent visits to line up efficiently from a driving perspective. A. Rafanelli was certainly a must stop.

Our itinerary will filling quickly, but you told us when we called that you do not take advanced appointments – something we could respect – and to call back closer to the visit date.

Persistence is often essential to success, and we were persistent. Having previously enjoyed your wines, usually opened up on only the most special of occasions, all our unanswered calls were not a bother. You may want to check on your answering machine though, because it very rarely picks up. Fixing the answering machine is not imperative, since we both know you don't return calls anyway. Who of us isn't the same at our work!

We flew from Texas to California with you penciled in to the itinerary… not exactly penned in, but maybe erasable-penned in. Your wine making is brilliant. It is easy to look past the high cost and very limited distribution of your wines. Each sip is a reminder that it is all worth the trouble. Having previously visited and being on your "list" (wine clubs are for wineries of the pedestrian sort), we feel visiting wineries is as much about soaking in the experience as it is getting access to limited releases, so this was a stop we did not want to scratch off the itinerary. The day before we were to visit, we still had not made contact.

It was the fourth of our four day stay. We began the morning with breakfast at our Healdsburg, CA hotel and a phone call to you. No answer. Ferrari-Carano served as our breakfast stop that day and Quivera our brunch stop. By noon, we were still unsuccessful making contact with you; nevertheless we headed to your property. Surely as previous visitors, customers, and passionate admirers we would not be stood up at the gate.

But there we were, parked at the gate to your winery and still no answer.

We thought of that moment at the gate while we began writing this letter. We understand a certain level of pretentiousness when you produce the kind of wines you do with a small and family owned business. As we mentioned, your Zinfandels are truly fantastic, but you are a**holes.

Today is not a special occasion. We are casually enjoying a glass of Lambert Bridge Viognier (Dry Creek Valley Bevill Vineyard, 2008). After being snubbed at your gate, we needed to go somewhere to settle the disappointment from your indifference to us. With Gary Farrell scheduled for later in the afternoon and now a hole in our itinerary, we headed south and pulled in to the next closest winery. This winery was Lambert Bridge.

What a find. Similar to your business, they too make wines that are not widely distributed because of their limited production. Their wine tasting was not free, but we were impressed enough to move to the Reserve Tasting Room. We were served by an unforgettable wine steward named Dean. His Boston accent was contradictory to Lambert Bridge's elegant tasting. We immediately nicknamed him Boston Dean, which I understand stuck based on conversations with the winery in recent years.

After several outstanding wines and possibly as a rebound from your "visit," we joined Lambert Bridge's Liquid Assets Club. Only seconds after merely vocalizing our intent to join the club, Boston Dean reached under the desk and brought out additional glasses and wines that were not even available for purchase. In a moment etched in all our minds, Boston Dean said "you are family now" as he set the new glasses down on the bar. We are family now. Nice.

As we finish off this bottle, we just wanted to thank you for introducing us to Lambert Bridge. You indirectly made a love connection that summer of 2006. While we never connected that trip, we still have one thing between us. You may be a**holes, but you make fantastic Zins.

Cheers!

The Ferm


8 comments
  1. Jay Zeis April 20, 2010 at 12:04 PM  

    I do not normally drink wine. But my fiancé does. And due to your letter, I doubt I will ever buy an A. Rafinelli wine.

  2. WeHoustonPressers April 20, 2010 at 1:44 PM  

    Ah yes, nice use of nosism. Well done Sir.

  3. J.R. Ewing April 21, 2010 at 7:14 PM  

    Reminds me of Clark Griswold at Wally World...

  4. Anonymous February 9, 2011 at 12:39 PM  

    You are not theonly one who has been put off by Rafinelli. I have bought there wines for 10 years straight and they treat me like fecal matter anytime i try to schedule a visit.

  5. Anonymous May 27, 2011 at 8:34 PM  

    Jay. Doubt you'd be able to just go out and buy a bottle of a raf but if you were you'd be a fool not because of a letter like this.

  6. SirRon June 17, 2011 at 10:06 AM  

    Recent Anonymous guy,

    Ever heard of the Internet? You can find just about anything on it... including satirical open letters to someone who could care less.

  7. Gary and Bev October 26, 2011 at 9:50 PM  

    Wow! When reading your letter about A. Rafanelli Winery, I started to wonder if my wife had sent the letter we wanted to write after the last (and final) attempt to try to visit this winery. Like you, we have made so many attempts over the years to try to go by A. Rafinelli winery to buy "our ration" of wine when we make a wine buying trip to Sonoma and Napa County every year. For the last 3 years, we have been turned down, even when calling a week prior to our trip to make an appointment. So we finally resolved that their wine, although excellent in its taste to the tongue, has lost its taste to our enjoyment of their winery experience. That is what makes every great wine that we drink from our trip that much more special. The taste is enhanced by the memories of being at the winery where you purchased it. In the case of A.Rafinelli, the taste of the wine turned sour with the memory of what "A**Holes" they are (sorry, I had to copy your perfect description!). But all of this has a very happy ending. Since we were in the area following our shunning, we happened to drive by a winery that we had never noticed. It was just down the road. Instead of a locked gate and secret keypad, it had balloons and a sing that said WELCOME! The winery was Mounts Family Winery. This has turned out to be the best winery find in the years we have been going to Sonoma. The Mounts family have been growing grapes for many years, but have not actually produced their own wine until the last few years. The wine is incredible! And the visit to the winery was memorable, as you sit behind one of the buildings where they store the barrels - sitting on a wooden picnic table as the winemaker himself tells you about their wine and pours you samples of each variety. He smiles with pride as people compliment him on how great the wine is. Try our Mounts Family Winery. You will soon forget all about those A***Holes up the road. :)

    Gary and Bev

  8. Schmendrick October 26, 2013 at 1:14 AM  

    Some wineries are involved in making their wines and treating the whining public comes second (or not at all if you sell everything you bottle). Wine country isn't a Disney theme park; the first order of business is producing great wine. Stop by Zin Restaurant in Healdsburg, where Rafinelli is usually available by the glass, to try it.