Exploring VA Wines, Wining & Dining

Failure to Plan Means Planning to Fail

This has been quite the winter. Plenty of snow and cold to restrict our fieldwork as well as our customers coming out. I will give VDOT credit for taking good care of our road and even salting it a couple of times after the ice storms. Word is that salting a gravel road will break down the road base a lot quicker. Often times, they will plow the big snows and just leave the light snows to melt or get packed down. Well, enough about the snow.

We are deep in planning for the grapes this year. Between plans for planting new vineyards, taking care of established vineyards and contracting for purchasing fruit in the fall, we have a lot on our plates. At Fabbioli, the deer fence has been moved and we are preparing to lay out the rows for the grapes that will be planted in April. Most of our plantings will be Cabernet Franc and Sangiovese. We will be planting a few rows of odd varieties as well; Barbera, Sagrantino and Noire. In addition to planting about 4.5 acres on our property, we will be helping others plant as well. Currently we have 13 acres scheduled up to plant with clients. They are going through the same process of ordering posts, wire, hardware, bamboo and grow tubes.  The challenge will be in spreading my crew out to do all the things that need to be done this spring.

We currently have three vineyards and an orchard to manage. We are looking to pick up two more vineyards to manage. I have realized that some of our fruit shortage in Virginia is based on the fact that some of the smaller vineyards are not managed well. The owner has a day job and the labor commitment has not been as strong. If these vineyards are managed under a more professional operation, there can be more fruit of better quality coming from the acreage. This is one more step in decreasing the grape shortage in Virginia and across the east coast.

In order to have enough wine to fill the bottles we will sell in the future, I need to set up contracts now for grapes to purchase in the fall. We will sell a little of our fruit to some other wineries, but we will buy fruit from both Virginia and California in order to meet our production needs. As the vines that we are planting now start to produce crop in 3 years, we can then back on our outside purchases.

Most all of the other wineries are going though the process of solidifying contracts at this point. It is rather challenging to do as we do not know how much fruit will be on the vines come fall. Some of the wineries have enough grapes planted, so they will not purchase fruit. This is the best position to be in as you can sell extra fruit if you have it. As far as I can tell, most all of the fruit is spoken for in Virginia. We have maintained some good relationships over the years and am very pleased that we, most generally, get what we need in local fruit.

I am fortunate enough to be appointed to the Virginia Wine Board. The board has some financial power to help the wine industry grow in a positive direction. I will be applying my knowledge gained over the last 33 years in the industry to help address some of these needs and how we can grow sustainably. I am happy to serve the Commonwealth in this role and welcome thoughts from consumers about YOUR Virginia wine industry.

Written by: Doug Fabbioli

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