First off, I have to admit: I’m a Gabrielle fanboy. If you’ve ever read about the namesake of the winery, it’s impossible not to be a fan. An Italian from the Piedmont (French is his first language), Gabrielle immigrated to the States in the 70s and help start Barboursville winery. From there, he mentored more wineries than I’ve been able to keep track of. Suffice to say, he’s called “The Godfather of Virginia Wine” for a reason.
I visited on a Friday afternoon thinking it would be slow, only to be shocked at how busy the tasting room was. There’s a reason – the wines are THAT GOOD. And well-priced. The tasting room is small but super cozy, aided and abetted by a constant supply of fresh bread.
One of his sons was my server – that is, when he wasn’t making pasta. Yeah that’s a thing; from opening till mid-afternoon, they offer a food pairing along with the wine. I’d been there several times and been treated to everything from ravioli, fresh bread & olive oil, artichoke hearts, and potato pie.
The whites tend to be light and crisp and the reds low in tannin. But what surprises me is the variety. While he maintains his own vineyard, Gabrielle sources grapes from all over Virginia. One of his favorite vineyards seems to be Muse (his oldest son is the winemaker), but I’ve seen Gabrielle bring in grapes from Honah Lee, Turk Mountain, Trump & Blenheim.
What I tried:
- 2017 Rose: Light cherry notes; made with Malbec and Merlot.
- 2017 Pinot Grigio: Very light and refreshing
- 2017 Chardonnay. Made in a combo of new & neutral French oak; good and not overpriced.
- 2016 Cabernet Franc: Lighter than I expected; made in neutral oak.
- 2017 Nebbiolo: Had some bite to it, little bit spicy.
- 2018 Charlsseas Dore: Interesting Swiss grape, which he made into a sparkling.
- 2017 Malbec: Good but felt a bit rough.
This is not a place for a picnic or to listen to some music – sadly it’s too small for that. Not only that, but the winery is literally closed on Saturdays! But if you simply love good wine in an intimate setting, it’s one of the best places to go in all of Charlottesville.