A Tasting sign, hanging from an old yellow tractor next to the road, points you in the direction of the Gabriele Rausse Winery. It’s a good thing because, surrounded by sycamore, oaks, hickories and poplars, it’s the only hint to guide you to the beautiful glass house where you will experience the wonderful wines of this humble family winery. The staff truly makes you feel at home as you taste and talk about their wines in the magnificent and welcoming environment.
Gabriel Rausse is known as the father of Virginian wines, he was the first to bring the craft to another level by introducing European-style varieties to the region. Originally from Vicenza, Italy, in 1976 he set out to make wine in Australia, stopping in the U.S. first. He unexpectedly met the love of his life and chose to cut his trip short and start making wine in Virginia.
Fast forward to 1995, when the time came for Gabriel to start his own winery. Nowadays the winery is run by his sons, Peter and Tim, who are at the forefront of the tasting room, leading a great 30 minute experience of sipping and snacking. Peter also works in the vineyards, while Tim focuses more on the wine making. Their white and red wines are made from a variety of grapes that come from 14 local vineyards. The tasting encompasses a citric 2015 Chardonnay, 2015 Viognier (the Virginian trademark), 2013 Nebbiolo, 2014 Merlot, and the acclaimed Cabernet Franc. Closing the tasting flight is a sweet 2012 Kalian Monbazillac made by Tim’s wife’s family winery in France.
“The time spent in the tasting room reminds me of the purpose of the hard work of making wine”, Peter says, looking for a new record to play. They really strive to make the tasting experience accessible to everyone. Italian virgin olive oil and homemade bread is the opening pair with the Chardonnay. Followed by some more small bites, like the crêpe with sweet potatoes and gruyere, Cremini and Shiitake wine-poached toast, and the Roquefort walnuts with green apples. A tip for planning your visit: Thursday is their quietest day while Sundays can quickly fill up.
Phone: (434) 981-1677
Hours: Thu, Fri, Sun from 11-5pm
Text and photo: Edu Bayer