Established in 1996 in Peconic by John Petrocelli of J Petrocelli Construction Inc., of Ronkonkoma. The company is a major real estate developer in New York City. The winery was named for his father, Raphael. The farm was originally purchased in 1993. Stephen Mudd was engaged as the first vineyard manager. He performed some tests of the newly purchased farmland to determine the condition if the land. After drilling a number of test holes he found that the soil was critically low in organic materials. The Petrocelli's had planned to plant vines immediately and were considering going ahead despite the exhausted state of their farmland. Mudd recommended correcting the condition before going forward. They eventually agreed and made the right choice to plant the land in cover grasses and plow them back into the soil. The accuracy of the decision can be seen in the quality of the wines produced.
The Petrocelli's hired some of the best staff for their vineyard. Steven Mudd is their vineyard manager. Paul Pontallier, managing director of Chateau Margaux was engaged as a consulting enologist. He was one of the prime forces in the development, design, and focus of the vineyard. Like Pascal Marty of Bedell, Pontallier is one of a number of high profile Bordelaise to consult to new vineyards owned by the late '90s wave or vineyard owners. They also brought on the Long Island industry veteran Richard Olsen-Harbich as winemaker. Olsen-Harbich started his career working for Mudd on vineyard installations and working in the fields. His first winemaking position was at the South Fork Bridgehampton winery with consultant Hermann Wiemer. He went on to build the Jamesport Winery as winemaker through the '90s. He then joined Raphael and is now the winery's general manager as well as winemaker. To add to these accomplishments he was responsible for the granting of all three of Long Island's official appellations as well as one of the primary forces in the founding of the Long Island Merlot Alliance.
Raphael was initially planted in all Bordeaux red varietals. When the winery was founded the expressed plans were to focus only on Merlots. Although most of the reds have this Pomerol style focus they have expanded into Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. The first Merlot grapes were planted in 1997 with blending grapes planted the following year. Raphael has approximately 55 acre in vines.
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