Wednesday, November 21, 2012

In the Vineyard with Doug Fabbioli from Fabbioli Cellars, Virginia, USA

Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller with Doug Fabbioli at Fabbioli Cellars in Virginia, USA

I had been to Fabbioli Cellars before; I sat down and had lunch with Doug Fabbioli, while going with him through his wine portfolio. This time, it was different, Doug took us on a walk through his vineyard (before, of course, tasting his great wines).

For more, see:

Visiting Wine Maker Doug Fabbioli and his Fabbioli Cellars in Virginia, USA

Touring Virginia Wineries - Fabbioli Cellars, 8 Chains North and Breaux Vineyards - with Virginia Wine Expert Allan Liska

Fabbioli Cellars

Before starting Fabbioli Cellars in Virginia, Doug Fabbioli spent 10 years working in California. “When we moved to California in 1987, we had in the back of our minds the idea that we could find a piece of land and grow some grapes” said Doug “Kids, life, careers, land prices, cash flow and family steered us back East in 1997.” In California, Doug worked at Buena Vista Winery in Sonoma with Anne Moller-Racke, who now owns and runs Donum Estate. Donum produces super premium Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines in very limited quantities.

Pictures: Fabbioli Cellars

“After spending 10 years in Sonoma at Buena Vista Winery, I worked at Tarara Winery and Doukenie, both in Loudoun County. I also worked with numerous wineries as a consultant when they started up including Old House Vineyards, Hillsborough, Corcoran, Sunset Hills, Bluemont, Northgate, Notaviva, 8 chains and Hiddencroft.”

In early 2000, Doug and his wife bought a 25 acre parcel in Loudoun County in Virginia. The planting began in 2001, along with building the house. The main planting was Merlot with a little Petit Verdot for blending. 2004 was the first vintage.

Today, Fabbioli Cellars produces about 4000 cases. Three quarters of it is sold on the premise. Doug produces 60% of the fruit himself and buys the remainder from others.

Sustainable Agriculture

Walking through the vineyard, Doug talked about sustainable agriculture.

“We have implemented many sustainable practices at the winery and are continually looking for new ways to do things in a more earth-friendly fashion.

Pictures: Doug Fabbioli

One of the most important things we do is to be in the vineyard on a daily basis, monitoring the vines. The early detection of problems allows us to limit the pesticide sprays to spot locations, before more drastic measures would be required. This is a critical element of sustainable agriculture.

Non-irrigated vines help preserve our water supply and allow the vines to adapt more favorably to the true local climate.

Horse manure is blended with fermented grape solids and adjusted for pH to create a compost and mulch mix of all-organic matter that is used for fertilizer and weed control.

Pictures: Doug Fabbioli

Fungicides used such as sulfer, prophyte, and oxidate are organic in nature and have a low impact on the soil and surrounding flora as well as reduced resistance development.

We have planted and continue to plant nursery stock to conserve the soil. Trees do a better job of conserving the soil than grasses. Also the trees will be transplanted to other areas of the farm or sold to customers for them to plant. We never can have too many trees.

A new winery storage area was created by burying used shipping containers to create a cellar with reduced need for cooling and heating. This is not only ecological, but notes have been taken and this method will be taught at seminars for other wineries to learn.

Pictures: Doug Fabbioli

The winery/house uses a geothermal energy system for its hot water and for climate control.

A return and reuse program is being put into place for the Raspberry Merlot, Pear Wine and Rosa Nera wine bottles. This will save on shipping, printing, and glass. A dollar for each bottle will be returned to the customers for their help.”

Wine Tasting

We ended the vineyard tour with a wine tasting.

Pictures: Wine Tasting

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