David Vincent Raffaele was swept off his feet by the interesting wines and delicious foods of Sicily and Sardania. As a young Navy officer mostly stationed in Italy during his 10 years of service, David spent much of his time on leave enamored with the beauty and simplicity of a European lifestyle. This courtship between taste and tradition, cultural richness, and a thirst for knowledge, is why David now dedicates his days to the rich, loamy soil of Somerset Vineyard & Winery. David’s path to be Somerset’s Master Winemaker was nurtured and honed by both formal education in wine chemistry and vineyard management as well as Temecula Valley vineyard apprenticeships.
He earned his Bachelor of Science in Viticulture and Enology from the University of California, Davis and worked at several Temecula Valley vineyards including Maurice Car’rie, Van Roekel, and the former Keyways. David has been tending to the Mediterranean varietals on the Somerset property since 2010. A self-proclaimed “family man,” David is thrilled that the new family- and-friends ownership at Somerset has given new life to the vineyard. For David, the approach to creating memorable wine for life’s precious moments must be hands-on and deeply personal.
David has a profound respect for the magic in the soil and the individuality of the grapes, and he prefers to “get out of the way” to allow the fruit to express itself freely. That space, he believes, is the key to unlocking the secret of what makes a good wine.
During his first 5 years at Somerset Winery, David has been a pioneer in bringing Ancient Wine Making Techniques back into fashion. Somerset has committed to acquiring the largest collection of hand made Terracotta Amphorae from Impruneta, Italy, to the United States. Making wine like the Greeks, Romans and Egyptians did thousands of years ago, David has re discovered the benefits of Terracotta wine making. Come experience his creative use of marrying ancient technology with modern wine making.