Edible Blue Ridge Fall 2010 : Page 30
Clockwise from left: Gabriele assesses the harvest. Sweet viognier grapes. Walking the rows. Corks for his eponymous wines. shrug of his shoulders. “I like it when people buy my wine because they like it.” His wines, which are sold in retail wine Gabriele lets two panting dogs into the cellar and joins his sons, moving nimbly through the tight spaces. He emerges from behind metal shelves laden with tubing, corks, and labels wielding a pipette and two stemmed glasses.He steps onto an overturned bucket to remove the stopper from a barrel of 2009 merlot. “This is called ‘the thief ’ when it is used to steal the wine fromthe barrel,” he says with a smile, brandishing the pipette and dribbling ruby red wine into each glass. He replaces the bung with a few knocks of a rub-ber mallet, and steps down from the bucket. “Before, I could not make a merlot worth drinking,” he says swirling the wine a bit, thinking about its particular story. Three years ago, he asked one vineyard owner to harvest one-third of the merlot grapes a few weeks early—thinningthegrapesmaximizesripening and flavor for the fruit that remains. From what was picked, he made a dry rosé. “I hate to waste, so thinning to make another wine was my solution,” he says, tilting his glass of merlot to take in the fruity, inky aroma. He tilts his glass again, this time to taste, and af-ter a momentmakes a small approving sound. “The difference is unbelievable. I am very happy with this.” 30 | EDIBLE BLUE RIDGE FALL 2010 Emerging from the silence of the cellar and into his wooded backyard, Gabriele is joined again by his dogs. As he reflects on the growth of the wine industry in Virginia, and muses on its future, he wonders aloud about his own approach to making wine. “Because I am not open to the public, because I do not enter competitions, I don’t fit,” he says with a shops and restaurants, remain one of the Com-monwealth’s best-kept secrets—reasonably priced, delightful with or without food, and grown and crafted in Central Virginia. “The success of my wine is word of mouth. But this is unacceptable to amarketing person,” he says, as the dogs trot to keep up, seeming attentive to his confession. “If it costs me more than it should to make the wine good, I don’t care. From a business point of view, it doesn’t make any sense, but I’m made the way I’m made.” THE GABRIELE RAUSSE APPELLATION This winemaking frontiersman has worked with so many vineyards and wineries in the area, it’s entirely possible to take a self-guided driving tour of Rausse’s Virginia Wine Country. Here’s a list of spots to hit, plus a timeline for how he managed to get it all done. • AFTON MOUNTAIN VINEYARDS (1989); www.aftonmountainvineyards.com. • BARBOURSVILLE (1976); www.barboursvillewine.net. • BLENHEIM VINEYARDS (1979); www.blenheimvineyards.com. • BURNLEY VINEYARDS (1979); www.burnleywines.com. • FIRST COLONY WINERY (1990), formerly known as Totier Creek; www.firstcolonywinery.com. • GABRIELE RAUSSE WINERY (1997); no website. • JEFFERSON VINEYARDS (1981), formerly known as Simeon Vineyards;www.jeffersonvineyards.com. • KLUGE ESTATE WINERY & VINEYARD (1999); www.klugeestate.com. • MONTDOMAINE (1979); www.montdomaine.com. • ROSE RIVER (1983); www.roseriverfarm.com. • STONE MOUNTAIN VINEYARDS (1990); www.stonemountainvineyards.com. • SWEELY ESTATE WINERY (2004); www.sweelyestatewinery.com. • WESTON FARM VINEYARD & WINERY (2008); www.westonfarmvineyardandwinery.webs.com. • WHITE HALL VINEYARDS (1989); www.whitehallvineyards.com.