I’m so excited to be in Winston-Salem, North Carolina this week toasting with our friends, Tim Grandinetti and Lynette Matthews-Murphy, of the new Italian Eatery and Wine Bar Quanto Basta and Jay Raffaldini of Raffaldini Vineyards over their new house wine collaboration. The power team behind the popular local restaurant Spring House opened the doors to their new Italian eatery just three months ago. The restaurant’s rustic Italian menu offers salumi and cheese, pizzette cooked in a wood-fired oven (which they imported from Italy), shrimp arrabiata (one of the restaurant’s most-popular dishes) and eggplant Parmesan, with desserts including a spin on the traditional tiramisu and butterscotch budino. The restaurant’s big city feel, beautiful fare, and shockingly reasonable menu prices have people lined up at the door and at times, three deep at the bar. When it came time to pick their house wine, Grandinetti could think of no one better for the collaboration than their friend and winemaker, Jay Raffaldini.
Raffaldini Vineyards is located in both the Yadkin Valley and Swan Creek American Viticultural Areas (AVAs). Jay Raffaldini is making national award-winning Italian varietals. Raffaldini met Grandinetti three years ago and they immediately bonded over their Italian family heritage. Their mutual affection was evident as they embraced, joked with each other, and toasted their new venture.
Grandinetti worked with Raffaldini to select two wines, a white and a red, for Quanto Basta’s house labels. The white is a Vermentino Riserva, and the red is a Sangiovese Riserva. The white sells for $35 a bottle and $7 a glass, and the red for $45 a bottle and $9 a glass. These wine blends are only available at Quanto Basta, so for Raffaldini fans, it’s time to make some plans!
Ready for your Wine 101?
Sangiovese roughly translates from Latin as ” Sanguis Jovis” or “Blood of Jove”. Jove was the Supreme God in Roman mythology. It is the principal grape grown in the Tuscany region of Italy. Three clones of Sangiovese are the most sought after. The first clone, Sangioveto or Grosso is used for Chianti. The second clone, Brunello is used to make Brunello and Rosso di Montalcino and the third Prugnolo, for Vino Nobile di Montepulciano wines. (from www.raffaldini.com)
Vermentino is a noble white grape widely planted throughout the island of Sardinia and the Northwest coast of Italy where it has grown since the 14th century. Intense minerality is the trademark of the unique, boulder-laden soils found in our estate’s oldest block of Vermentino, from which this wine is predominantly sourced. (from www.raffaldini.com)
Did you know that Raffaldini Vineyards is the only Italian vineyard in North Carolina? The area’s soil and climate remind Jay Raffaldini of Italy, where his family started making wine in 1348. Once Raffaldini and his staff harvest the grapes, they dry a portion of them to concentrate the flavors before pressing and blending. This process is known as appassimento in Italian. The grapes shrink up to a 1/3 during this process. None of the other wineries in North Carolina are going through this process which replicates the results of dry farming methods. “The process is VERY laborious. If you’re gonna do it, do it right!” Raffaldini says. The Raffaldini wines are ideal for food pairings because they complement the food instead of overpowering it.
The announcement of the Raffaldini and Quanto Basta partnership came at a great time! As we met to celebrate and toast the release of the new House Wine for Quanto Basta, we also kicked off this weekend’s Salute! NC Wine Celebration in downtown Winston-Salem.
Quanto Basta means “as much as you like; as much as you need” in Italian. The Raffaldini house wine collaboration furthers Quanto Basta’s mission of celebrating the art of food and the joyful voice of the Italian culture. The restaurant is located at 680 W. Fourth St., Winston-Salem, NC; (336) 893-6144. Hours: Monday-Thursday, 4 p.m.-midnight, and Friday-Saturday, 4 p.m.-late night. Seating is on a first-come, first-serve basis. No reservations. www.facebook.com/quantobastaNC
If you have not explored the fabulous North Carolina wine country, it will blow your mind. Make it a day or a weekend. There are more than 142 wineries to explore in the state of North Carolina! I’m happy to make recommendations for lodging and restaurants. And the folks at Visit Winston-Salem are there to help you plan the perfect trip!
Raffaldini’s wine tasting room is open daily (except for Tuesdays) at 450 Groce Road, Ronda, NC; (336) 835-9463; www.raffaldini.com. I recommend following the directions on their website, but Google Maps did a pretty good job, too.
Keep me posted on your North Carolina wine favorites!