For Doug Fabbioli of Fabbioli Cellars in Leesburg, growing his winery and his vines in a way that is environmentally and economically sustainable is a center point of his business philosophy. “Honestly,” he says, “environmental and economic sustainability really go hand in hand.”
On the business side, Doug has been careful to “grow on the gravy [he’s] making rather than spending millions on a big operation up front.” He wants his wine to earn its keep, so he has taken it slow. When Doug and his family came to Virginia in 1997, he had over a decade of winery and vineyard work under his belt. The Fabbioli’s bought their 25-acre plot and planted some vines. Yet — rather than immediately starting his own business — Doug got a job as a winemaker at a vineyard down the road and later worked as a consultant for multiple vineyards. He waited patiently until his vines were established, and then he stepped back from his other work to focus on making his own wine.
“Again, it’s sustainable growth,” Doug explains. “You start small, build a customer base, make a great quality product, and then expand as you need.” Fabbioli Cellars opened their doors for tastings in 2007, eventually expanding their hours from a few days a week to seven.
Doug also knows that to maintain his business, he has to maintain the natural resources he depends on. So, he has implemented environmentally friendly technology and practices. His fertilizer is compost from his operation and from neighboring farms, and he uses an integrated pest management system — utilizing as much hand labor as possible. “I want to make smart decisions,” Doug says. “I’d much rather throw labor at something than a big gun of chemicals.” He also uses a geothermal heating and cooling system, an earthen cave for temperature controlled storage, and is looking into getting solar panels.
Today, Fabbioli Cellars is producing about 4,000 cases of wine a year with ten acres of vines in the ground, and all of this careful planning and growth stems from Doug’s love of winemaking. “The base is the wine,” he smiles. “The base is the grapes…We have great artisan craftsmen in the cellar and the vineyard making the best product we can from the land.”