First Person Singular: Doug Fabbioli, 48, winemaker, Fabbioli Cellars


Doug Fabbiol, 48, of Fabbioli Cellars. (Eli Meir Kaplan/FOR THE WASHINGTON POST)
October 27, 2011

I had the blood a little bit. My grandfather used to make wine in the basement. He came over from Italy, and he bought a house in the city, but he [also] bought the empty lot next door. So they always had this garden. Nana’s garden. Grandpa died before I was alive, but I always remember the pear trees and the raspberries and the grape arbor. Everything was there. And that was just a beautiful summer. I realize now, as this farm has grown,
that it’s very much a reflection of what we have here. We’ve got more than a garden; we’ve got a full-on farm.

I always say, “If you’re gonna plant a vineyard, either plant 50 as a toy, or plant 2,000 as a business.” There are schools to learn this, but it’s a lot of other things in there. There’s chemistry involved. There’s biology involved. There’s food science. Marketing. If I got my PhD in winemaking, I’d fail at everything else. So I like that I got a business degree so I can learn. I do everything. My hat changes a dozen times during the day. I may be the repair guy for the toilet. I may be the PR guy for the winery. I may be the barrel sales guy to set up the next load that’s going out. I’ll taste and evaluate. So I can go in all different directions all the time. I say, I don’t have [attention deficit disorder] — I’m multitasking.

What I like is working with nature. You don’t have to get a delivery. Technically, I guess, you do get a delivery of sunshine every day. But I like to think of this as: We’re turning sunshine into something. We’re solar energy specialists. You can take that sunshine and put it into a glass or into a bottle and share it. Not like a ripe tomato — that’s only good for a few days — but a bottle of wine, that can last for years.

When it comes to blending wines, it’s your palate, what makes sense and a little bit of vision of where this wine is gonna go down the road. Your perfect bottle of wine is always in front of you. You get some good ones and you’re going to get some recognition, but you are always striving to do better. God put grapes on the ground to turn into wine. As winemakers, we just hope we don’t screw it up.

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