Live music and special events are not an essential part of the Fabbioli Cellars calendar, but that's because the the owners put the focus squarely on the wine—red wine at that.
"If you have good quality wine, people will continue to come," said Doug Fabbioli, co-owner and principle winemaker for Fabbioli Cellars, describing his aversion to typical winery concerts and events.
Fabbioli said he doesn't object entirely to regular events, but "we want our primary focus here to be on the wine, not tourism. We can get into trouble if all we do is have music and pour wine in our tasting room; we don't want to turn into bars in the country."
Fabbioli's journey began after college, when he ventured to Sonoma Valley to learn the winemaking craft at Buena Vista vineyards. After that, in 1997, he took over the chief winemaker position at Tarara Vineyards near Lucketts before opening his namesake winery a few years later. Fabbioli Cellars bottled its first vintage in 2004, producing about 200 cases, and has grown steadily ever since.
"We focus on dry reds," Fabbioli explained. "I've had people say to me, 'you're in Virginia and you only do reds? Are you nuts?' But I always say, 'Don't you think that makes a better bottle of wine, if you focus on something?'"
Specialization, Fabbioli said, allows him to put out a better product.
The current lineup of reds includes a chambourcin, a cabernet sauvignon, a cabernet franc and Fabbioli Cellars' own tre sorélle, which blends merlot, cabernet sauvignon and petit verdot. A raspberry merlot, pear aperitif and black raspberry wine add variety, creating exotic dessert alternatives. The business does produce a rosé and just bottled its first white, but it's not yet available for sale.
The tasting room is intentionally small and features an eccentric variety of decor. I was most struck by the lego Millennium Falcon that hangs over the door, but also liked the Imperial Star Destroyer hanging over the bar. That the piped in music then segued from "Truckin'" by the Grateful Dead to Krokus' "Ballroom Blitz" really amused me, personally.
Fabbioli wants the focus, in the tasting room, to be on wine and education, so while it's comfortable, it doesn't feature a lot of frills.
"Our entertainment is the wine," he said. "We want people to enjoy the wine, and we do our best to educate them about it. I have staff that have been with me for years, and it's very important to us that they learn about wine and be able to educate the public."
The tasting room is open Thursday through Monday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tastings are $5 and typically feature eight wines from Fabbioli Cellars' current selection.
To learn more, go to www.fabbioliwines.com.