Rapazzini Winery has been a visual icon along Highway 101 since 1962 when it first opened. The Larson brothers, Alex and Charlie, purchased the winery in 2000 to continue the long tradition of fine winemaking.
Acting as sentries, two standard poodles were regally seated at the entrance of the tasting room. The tasting menu is extraordinarily diverse, divided into whites, reds, sparkling and dessert and world-famous garlic wine. In addition to better known varietals such as chardonnay, pinot noir, zinfandel and merlot, are the rarely seen varietals that include grignolini, sangiovese, barbera and carignane.
My tasting started with the 2016 Grignolini Rose ($20), a delightful summer sipper with notes of peach and pear that finished with a taste of buttered rice. Moving on to the reds, I tried their 2013 Pinot Noir ($24) out of Santa Cruz mountains. A swirl of my glass showed off the deep ruby color and fresh strawberry aromas.
For me, the show-stopping wine is the 2012 Petite Sirah ($32), from Santa Clara Valley. Made from grapes that grew during the hot, sunny summer of 2011; the result is an inky dark, full-bodied wine, with lots of fruit up front, a smoky tobacco middle and a peppery finish.
You’ll have to add your name to a waitlist for one of their top-selling dessert wines, Apribella ($20), an apricot fruit wine, that always sells out.
The tasting room has a large assortment of gifts, garlic treats and their world-famous garlic wine.