AWG Correspondent

James Houston

Fabbioli Cellars Photos

Fabbioli Cellars Review

Region: Virginia

Reviewed: July 14, 2012 by James Houston
Published: July 17, 2012

“I never planned on building a tasting room,” says Doug Fabbioli. The gregarious owner of Fabbioli Cellars is reminiscing about the origins of his Loudoun County winemaking operation, where he planted the first vines in 2001.

Fortunately, his plans changed. As the reputation of Mr. Fabbioli’s wines grew and demand for them surged, he converted the basement of his expansive Leesburg home into a showroom (and tell-room, and sip-room) for his handcrafted wares.

Today, the way to the tasting counter takes you across a patio dotted with seats surrounding tables and fire pits. The basketball hoop may seem out of place, unless you’ve worked a wine harvest and know how much easier a game or two of HORSE makes waiting for the next load of grapes to arrive.

You enter a low-ceilinged, lamp-lit cavern with wine everywhere—not on the floor, thankfully, but in bottles adorning long wooden tables and in barrels stacked against the wall. The space is evocative of all things vinous. Edgar Allan Poe fans might think of the vast subterranean wine cellar in “The Cask of Amontillado”.

“I want people to have a fine dining experience in my tasting room,” says Mr. Fabbioli. He is quick to point out that this is not meant literally, as there is no restaurant attached to the winery. Rather, his aim is to provide a level of relaxed yet attentive service and an atmosphere that perfectly complements the gustatory experience, the way a great restaurant does.

This is not to say you’re out of luck if you arrive hungry, as a wide range of gourmet provisions are available for purchase. As are cigars, which are not something you find in every tasting room and are a natural match for Fabbioli’s outstanding sweet wines.

The man pouring my tasting was attentive and knowledgeable enough, taking the time to ask me what sort of wines I typically liked and presumably responding by making small adjustments to the tasting lineup.

Overall, the quality of the wines I tasted was high. Mr. Fabbioli has a fine oenological pedigree, having trained in New York’s Finger Lakes and California’s Sonoma County, where he was assistant winemaker at Buena Vista Vineyards and worked under the legendary vintner Andre Tschelistcheff.

The reds (which comprise 75% of the production) stand out, particularly the peppery Cabernet Franc and powerful Tannat. While many sweet wines range from predictable to cloying to downright unpleasant, Fabbioli’s Raspberry Merlot and “Una Pera” pear wine have a freshness and depth that are true to the estate-grown fresh fruits used to make them.

If you’re craving a more active experience than sipping in the cellar or on the patio in full view of the vineyards, wander across the grass to the gardens. In one, Mr. Fabbioli grows seasonal fruits and vegetables such as spring asparagus that complement his wines. The other is an educational “flavor garden”, home to fruits, berries and other produce that appear in the flavor and aroma profiles of Fabbioli wines.

(Note: When I was there, the gardens had not yet been “launched” as a part of the tasting experience, but be sure to ask about them before or during your visit.)

Adjacent to the gardens are raspberry bushes and a small pear orchard that provide the makings of Fabbioli’s pear and raspberry wines. If you visit at the right time of year, you might see an odd sight in the pear branches: empty bottles positioned over pear blossoms, waiting for the fruit to grow inside the glass. In a nod to the famous French “Poire Williams” eaux-de-vie, Fabbioli sells an ultra-premium pear wine with a ripe pear floating in the elixir.

Some winemakers are serious about wine quality, while others just say so. Doug Fabbioli is for real, and so his winery is a worthwhile stop.

Address & Contact Information: 15669 Limestone School Road Leesburg, Virginia 20176. Telephone: 703-771-1197, email:, website: Tasting Hours: 11:00-5:00 or by appt..

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