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Doug Fabbioli, Co-Founder, Winemaker
It is said that the passion that Doug Fabbioli has for making quality wines has been passed down from his paternal grandfather, Leone Fabbioli. When Leone made his wine in the basement of his Elmira home in the 1940’s and 50’s he would take special care to sort the fruit, keep the lots of wine separate and get to know the growers of the fruit before deciding to buy. Doug employs time honored traditions of constant care and evaluation of quality along with the modern scientific techniques to both grow the grapes and make the wine at his winery.
Doug was attending Syracuse University for Production Management when he took a part-time job helping a friend plant and run a vineyard. “This was a very exciting time for me but I knew that we all needed to learn a lot” Doug says. This realization sent Doug and his wife to be Colleen to Sonoma Valley in Northern California for their next chapter.
Doug was employed in the wine cellar at Buena Vista Winery in the Carneros district. Over the ten years of his employment, Doug had a chance to work with many fine winemakers including the legendary Andre Tchelicheff. He continued his education in both enology and viticulture at U.C. Davis and Santa Rosa Junior College. Doug was becoming an accomplished home winemaker while he continued to work and learn as a professional. He had been the assistant Winemaker for 3 years when he heard the calling to return to the East Coast.
Doug accepted the winemaker position at Tarara in Lucketts, VA in 1997 and brought his wife Colleen and sons Matthew and Sam to start a new chapter in the fledgling Virginia wine industry. “My time at Tarara gave me a chance to find out just what my capabilities are. As much as I knew, I found out how much more there was to learn. Even though I get recognition of success through gold medals and awards, I am humbled by the thought that the best wine is not achievable, but a journey of constant effort and learning.”
In 2000, Doug was giving some guidance to Windham to improve quality and productivity in both the vineyard and cellar. This effort increased greatly when in 2001, Doug left Tarara and became the Vintner for Windham. The goal of balance in the vineyards has led to changing some trellising systems causing both quality and quantity increases. In 2002, Doug’s efforts were rewarded as Windham won its first gold medal along with numerous other honors of gold, silver and bronze. Not long after, Doug’s passion for wine brought him to his latest endeavor of owning his own winery and operating Fabbioli Cellars with his wife Colleen. They own a 6 acre vineyard and are strongly known for their red wines and have numerous awards across the board.
Melanie Natoli, Assistant Winemaker
Melanie joined the Fabbioli Cellars team during the 2009 harvest. Originally from New Jersey, she traveled around a bit before landing here in Virginia. She has followed her heart through many adventures from the Navajo reservation to west Africa until it brought her to wine. Melanie has found her true passion in the world of wine. From the winter pruning to getting a final blend in the bottle, she is truly honored to be a part of this amazing process. Melanie's favorite wines to drink are Zinfandel, Rose, and Champagne. When she's not busy making wine, tasting wine, or reading about wine, you can find her in the kitchen. Although usually messy and often clumsy, Melanie creates many tasty creations, both savory and sweet. Just as in wine, she loves exploring different flavors in foods.
James F. Koennicke, AC, Wine Educator
After a 20 year love affair with wine, James has now turned his hobby into a career. Using the time honored tradition of starting at the bottom, he used what he learned in his travels over the years to develop a unique and highly regarded tasting experience for winery visitors. In addition to the practical side of things James now is certified by the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET) holding the Advanced Certificate with Distinction and is a member of the Society of Wine Educators. In his free time James, using the nom de plume of Jimmy Cocktail, is the author of At Least I’m Enjoying the Ride, a blog dedicated to food, wine and fun.