The European influence on Virginia winemaking is evident when enjoying wines from Barboursville - and most appropriately so. Throughout the world there are a handful of wine producing families who own and operate successful vineyard and winery operations in more than one country. The Zonin family is unique in this small group. Beginning as vintners in Italy in the 1820s, they are now producing medal-winning wines in both Italy and Virginia.
In the 1970s Dr. Gianni Zonin and his wife first visited the Monticello region. They were aware of the area’s viticulture history, but had not realized the strong similarities of climate and soil conditions to those in northern Italy. Dr. Zonin was attracted to Barboursville for its ideal grape growing terrain and its history. Upon learning the property was for sale, they purchased the estate and promptly sent an Italian winegrower to establish a vineyard designed to produce top quality wines.
In the 1700s Thomas Jefferson was also determined to grow grapes and produce wine at nearby Monticello. To achieve his dream, he negotiated with Dr. Filippo Mazzei who brought vines from his native Italy, to establish vineyards at Monticello and the surrounding area. They faced impossible odds against a combination of nature and politics. Jefferson’s dream and Zonin’s dream of winegrowing in Virginia are very similar in the challenges that each had to meet. Fortunately for us, the twentieth century effort, with the advantage of advances in agricultural technology, was able to overcome obstacles of climate, insects, and even advice from government agencies and doubting neighbors.
The first small vintage in 1978, from Virginia grown European Vinifera grape varieties, was a major landmark in Virginia’s modern wine industry. It opened the eyes of winemakers to the potential of Vinifera production, and was a turning point in Virginia’s vineyard selections.
Luca Paschina is the winemaker and general manager of Barboursville. Born into a family of Italian winemakers, he was involved in winemaking and knowledge of fine wines from his early teens. After several years of experience in all aspects of wine production, he became an independent winery consultant. Planning to spend only a couple of months in 1990 consulting at Barboursville, he accepted the management of their successful wine production program and is still with Barboursville. His reputation for working with Virginia climate, soils and winemaking is well earned. Not only have judges in world-wide competitions recognized his talent, but world-renowned wine writers praise Barboursville’s wines on a regular basis.
The winery’s building facility is state-of-the-art, producing wines from over 100 acres of Vinifera varietals. Clonal research has been conducted at the Zonin estate in Italy since 1985. Virginia research is also on-going, and several improved varietal clones have been introduced into the vineyard, some in new expansion areas, and others to replace older plantings.
In the late 1990s, they opened their in-house restaurant, Palladio, named for the Italian architect who inspired Jefferson. Their labels also reflect a bit of Virginia history. The ruins are the site of a residence that was designed by Thomas Jefferson for his friend Virginia Governor James Barbour. After a fire destroyed the home on Christmas Day 1884, the family renovated a couple of brick dependencies near the mansion. These brick residences are still in use today by Barboursville.
- Sharon Bradshaw
2001 Cabernet Sauvignon
Tasting Notes Coming Soon!