As wine bloggers and industry leaders convene in Charlottesville, Virginia this weekend for the Wine Bloggers Conference, I thought it appropriate to highlight the man many call the Father of the Virginia’s modern wine industry. While Thomas Jefferson started it all at Monticello, Gabriele Rausse made Virginia wine country a reality.

In 1976 the Italian vintner family, Zonin, brought over Gabriele Rausse from Italy (both are from the northern Italian town, Vincenza) to grow and harvest grapes for their newly started Barboursville Vineyards. The land was actually purchased on 13 April… Thomas Jefferson’s birthday. Gabriele did what many said couldn’t be done and in 1979 produced his first vintage for Barboursville. He stayed with them and went on to work with several other wineries in the Charlottesville area.

Now appropriately the Assistant Director of Garden and Grounds at Monticello, Gabriele started his own wine label, Gabriele Rausse, in 1997 and is still producing elegant European-style wines. His winery, open by appointment only, is located in Charlottesville with 7 acres of vineyards and he also purchases fruit from vineyards he has planted for several growers. His wines include a Pinot Grigio, Viognier Reserve (Virginia’s official grape), Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon and can be found in the central Virginia area.

Cheers to Gabriele Rausse!