By Doug Fabbioli
The great thing about this process is that we can discover varieties that can grow here that would not have been considered in other systems. Viognier, Tannat, Petit Manseng, Albariño and Petit Verdot have all found success in our state because we have the ability to try new things. Virginia has somewhat committed that Viognier is the state grape, but I am hard pressed to find a grower or a winemaker that is all in on this decision.
Some other regions have latched onto a certain variety and make that their signature. Oregon has made a strong commitment to Pinot Noir. This has worked well for them but it has its downside as well. There are microclimates in every growing area. Some smaller pockets of land may be great for Cabernet Sauvignon, but the general public will assume that only Pinots can be grown in Oregon. The state is kind of big, and not all sites are the same.
At Fabbioli Cellars, we have been quite diverse in our product line by including a few fruit wines, ciders and ports along with our more classic reds and whites. As a smaller producer, we can make smaller batches and have the ability to increase or decrease production based on demand. We may sell off excess fruit or create a new blend with the juice that needs a home. I never suggest that other wineries copy what we do, but I believe that Virginia is still a very new wine region and needs lots more history to find concurrence on a few grape varieties. Winemakers and grape growers like their freedom to work their fruit and styles. By picking one variety for the state, we automatically downgrade all of the other varieties we have planted.
Virginia can make some outstanding classic Bordeaux styled reds as well some beautiful varietal wines that show the purity of the fruit as it is grown here. We also produce stylistic wines with artistic flare using techniques or fruits that may have been rediscovered by the latest generation of industry leaders. All of this comes down to embracing our options. A well-made wine can always find a following even if it’s small. Enjoy our diversity!