The most exciting and educational part of Taste Camp 2012 was walking the vineyards with the winemakers. We spent time with four Virginia winemakers and their grapevines…Doug Fabbioli of Fabbioli Cellars, Jordan Harris of Tarara Winery, Ben Renshaw of 8 Chains North in Tranquility Vineyards, Jim Law of Linden Vineyards…discussing everything from canopies to climate.

While every vineyard had a different look and feel, we heard key themes across all the walks…

  • Virginia winemaking is a collaboration. Everyone is working together to make Virginia a great wine region.
  • Pick the right site for your vineyard and match your soil to your grape variety.
  • North / south rows are ideal.
  • Canopy management has been key in helping Virginia make good wine.
  • Most vineyards are currently battling grapevine yellow disease.
  • Everybody prefers a normal growing season, like 2008 and 2009.
  • 2010 was a very easy year to grow grapes in Virginia and thus make a great wine.
  • 2011 was one of the toughest years ever but Virginia winemakers learned they can make good wine in a difficult year. Unfortunately for most it also meant walking away from fruit on the vine. 2011 was especially good for white wines.
  • 2012 is earliest growth ever they’ve seen. As we stood among the grapes, most said they were about three weeks early vs. regular growth schedule.

You feel the passion from this talented group. They are smart, open and honest, all farmers who love their jobs! The TLC required for the job is amazing…it really makes you pause as you sip that next glass of wine.

It was an extreme pleasure to have the opportunity and I so appreciate the candor they had with our group of writer.

Let’s take a walk with each of them and learn more about grape growing and winemaking in Virginia. First up, Doug Fabbioli.