Thursday, March 06, 2014
Interview with Doug Fabbioli of Fabbioli Wine Cellars (Video interview)
Recently at EWE 2014, I had a chance to sit down with Doug Fabbioli of Fabbioli Wine Cellars and ask him what was foremost on his mind. His answer is an intriguing and thoughtful one. What does one expect form one of the most influential minds in Virginia and east coast wine? A great and thoughtful discussion on the supply and demand of fruit on the east coast.
It is said that the passion that Doug Fabbioli has for making quality wines has been passed down from his paternal grandfather, Leone Fabbioli. When Leone made his wine in the basement of his Elmira home in the 1940’s and 50’s he would take special care to sort the fruit, keep the lots of wine separate and get to know the growers of the fruit before deciding to buy. Doug employs time honored traditions of constant care and evaluation of quality along with the modern scientific techniques to both grow the grapes and make the wine at his winery.
Doug was attending Syracuse University for Production Management when he took a part-time job helping a friend plant and run a vineyard. “This was a very exciting time for me but I knew that we all needed to learn a lot” Doug says. This realization sent Doug and his wife to be Colleen to Sonoma Valley in Northern California for their next chapter.
Doug was employed in the wine cellar at Buena Vista Winery in the Carneros district. Over the ten years of his employment, Doug had a chance to work with many fine winemakers including the legendary Andre Tchelicheff. He continued his education in both enology and viticulture at U.C. Davis and Santa Rosa Junior College. Doug was becoming an accomplished home winemaker while he continued to work and learn as a professional. He had been the assistant Winemaker for 3 years when he heard the calling to return to the East Coast.
Doug accepted the winemaker position at Tarara in Lucketts, VA in 1997 and brought his wife Colleen and sons Matthew and Sam to start a new chapter in the fledgling Virginia wine industry. “My time at Tarara gave me a chance to find out just what my capabilities are. As much as I knew, I found out how much more there was to learn. Even though I get recognition of success through gold medals and awards, I am humbled by the thought that the best wine is not achievable, but a journey of constant effort and learning.”
In 2000, Doug was giving some guidance to Windham to improve quality and productivity in both the vineyard and cellar. This effort increased greatly when in 2001, Doug left Tarara and became the Vintner for Windham. The goal of balance in the vineyards has led to changing some trellising systems causing both quality and quantity increases. In 2002, Doug’s efforts were rewarded as Windham won its first gold medal along with numerous other honors of gold, silver and bronze. Not long after, Doug’s passion for wine brought him to his latest endeavor of owning his own winery and operating Fabbioli Cellars with his wife Colleen. They own a 25 acre vineyard and are strongly known for their red wines and have won numerous awards across the board.