L’Ecole No. 41 hires Walla Walla Community College
educator Marcus Rafanelli as its new winemaker
L’Ecole No. 41 Winery, one of the Walla Walla Valley’s early founding family wineries, has announced that experienced enologist and educator Marcus Rafanelli has joined L’Ecole as winemaker.
Rafanelli comes to L’Ecole from Walla Walla Community College’s Institute for Enology & Viticulture, where he has been the Instructional Technician/Cellarmaster, overseeing 65 students and the production of College Cellars’ wines. Prior to that, he worked at wineries spanning the globe, including the esteemed Weingut Dr. Loosen Winery (Mosel, Germany) and Two Hands Winery (Barossa Valley, Australia).
At William Church Winery, he was an integral lead in production for more than five years, becoming winemaker in 2011. Rafanelli also worked harvest at L’Ecole more than a decade ago, in 2007. L’Ecole’s owner and managing winemaker, Marty Clubb, commented on L’Ecole’s hiring of Rafanelli, saying that it “illustrates the winery’s commitment to consistency and quality in every bottle, using traditional old-world style winemaking techniques. Marcus is the perfect person to lead our winemaking team to an even higher level of success.”
Furthermore, Clubb said that Rafanelli’s role at L’Ecole will “position him to become one of Washington’s great winemakers.” Tim Donahue, Director of Winemaking at Walla Walla Community College, commented that Rafanelli joining the L’Ecole team is a “big win for our Enology/Viticulture program, having another graduate heading up winemaking for such a prominent brand.” The program has more than 300 graduates, of which 84% are currently employed in the Washington wine industry.
Speaking about the college’s Enology & Viticulture program, Clubb asserts that he has been “more than pleased with the caliber and quality of their innovative winemaking program,” and that he is “proud of L’Ecole’s support of the program which is ratcheting up Washington State’s reputation for wine.” Clubb has been on the Advisory Board for the program since its inception.
Rafanelli earned a B.S. degree in Biology at Boise State University and completed the Enology & Viticulture program at WWCC. He is a member of the Washington Wine Technical Group, a professional organization committed to improving Washington wines. As a recipient of the Powers Sabbatical Award, he traveled through France in early 2019, studying the use of oak in quality wine production. He and his wife Heather live in Walla Walla with their family.
About L’Ecole No. 41. Housed in the historic Frenchtown schoolhouse depicted on its label, L’Ecole is a pioneering Walla Walla Valley winery, which has earned international acclaim for producing expressive, distinctive wines that reflect the unmistakable typicity of Washington State and the unique terroir of their estate vineyards.
In 2019, L’Ecole was named a Top 100 Winery of the Year by Wine & Spirits Magazine for the 15th time. Marty Clubb, along with his wife Megan and their children Riley Clubb and Rebecca Olson, serve on L’Ecole’s board of directors.
About College Cellars of Walla Walla. College Cellars of Walla Walla is a teaching winery located at the Institute for Enology & Viticulture on the campus of Walla Walla Community College. The 15,000 square-foot facility houses classrooms, a wine analysis laboratory, faculty offices, and the fully operational commercial winery and estate vineyards. With a public/private partnership with ETS Labs, it is one of the only two-year teaching commercial wineries in the United States, producing wines crafted by students as a part of the study of the science of winemaking.
Since its first release of wine in 2004, College Cellars’ student-made wines have garnered many awards (including consecutive Best of Show Awards at the Tri-Cities Wine Festival in 2017 and 2018) and multiple 90+ scores in major publications.