The Beginning

Our founders, Peter and Frances Chiarella, came to the Napa Valley in 1990 as a requirement of Peter’s career as a financial executive. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity to plant a vineyard and build a home in one of the most beautiful places in America. The seven acres of undeveloped hillside was adjacent to two idyllic vineyards growing grapes for two highly respected Napa Valley wineries. The high slope made and ideal perch for a home site and a perfect vineyard location.

At 300 feet of elevation, it was on the instep of Mount Veeder, facing in three directions; east, south and west; and protected from the harsh north. The soils varied from gravelly loam to alluvial clay and there was shale below the hilltop soil. 

The vineyard is named Don Raffaele, a translation from  Italian meaning Sir Ralph, in honor of Peter’s father, who was knighted by Italy for heroism in World War I. That was just prior to his emigration to the United States. He often compared the Don Raffaele Estate to the land he had known, growing up in a small Italian village. Our Crane Family name comes from Fran,  whose maiden name was Crane. We are proud of what we have accomplished in the time frame of our vineyard’s existence and are excited for the next generation of our family to continue the effort.

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