PreferWine: Domaine Georg Rafael

Our next wine on PreferDine is also the oldest we've offered so far: a 1999 Cabernet Sauvignon from Domaine Georg Rafael in Napa. For those of you who don't know the're not alone! It produces only an extremely limited quantity each year, and if you manage to track down a bottle of their Chardonnay, you're pretty much a superstar.

Add in Georg Rafael's compelling personal biography--childhood in Cold War Germany, meteoric rise in the hotel business, winery passion project--and you've got the makings of a great story. Factor in our 30% discount deal on bottles of his wine, and you won't be able to turn this offer down!

If you want to buy the wine, you can click on the link, or just read my write up, which I've pasted in below.


Domaine Georg Rafael
Père et Fils
221 Devlin Road
Napa, CA 94558
(415) 298-2810

Like a certain speaker-wielding, beer-toting, slide-deploying, air-raged flight attendant, we often spend our days dreaming of leaving the office behind—along with the beep of the Blackberry, the whir of the printer and the buzz of the fax. In our fantasy, we’d become winemakers, whiling away the days strolling our vineyards, and tasting our wines. Not that we think it’s ever going to happen, but at least we can be inspired by the example of Georg Rafael. He’s our version of the Dos Equis man. Rafael left his home in Germany as a young man during the height of the Cold War and pursued a career in hospitality in France, eventually becoming an award-winning hotelier before deciding to start his own winery in Napa in the ’90’s. There his team produces extremely limited release Cabernet Sauvignon and an infinitesimal amount of Chardonnay that’s so secret, the winery will deny its existence to anyone but the close circle of friends who gets to enjoy it. Lucky for you, we managed to talk Rafael into offering us a deal on his 1999 Cabernet Sauvignon—a rare deal on a rare wine.

We don’t usually partake of wine at breakfast, but this wine reminded us of an early morning meal at a Turkish café overlooking the Bosphorus. The strawberry and cassis flavors are jammy enough to spread on your morning toast, but the savory background spices of strong coffee, black licorice and olive will wake your senses with their alluring bite. Still, rather than enjoying this wine with your morning eggs, we’d suggest quaffing it with a dinner of Mediterranean small plates like hummus, baba ganoush, panzanella salad, and rack of lamb with olive tapenade and roasted eggplant.


  • The first wine produced under Domaine Georg Rafael was bottled in 1996, and since then, the winery has only made about 500 cases annually. Due to its limited release, the wine is not submitted for ratings, but you can find it in such stellar Bay Area restaurants as The French Laundry, Gary Danko, Arne at the St. Regis San Francisco, Spruce, and Campton Place Hotel.

  • The 1999 Cabernet Sauvignon is 100% Cabernet made from grapes grown in the Oak Knoll District AVA of Napa, northwest of the town of Napa itself, on steep lopes rising to over 400 feet in elevation.

  • The wine was aged in French oak for 28 months, and was bottled unfined and unfiltered, leaving intact all those tasty elements that usually get removed.