One of our favorite Virginia wineries is also one of the smallest: Gabriele Rausse, right outside of the city of Charlottesville. It’s near some of the larger, more commercial tasting rooms. It’s also on Carter Mountain, the same site as several historic landmarks, including the homes of former United States presidents Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe.
The winery’s website contains just the barest of information, and it’s only open Thursdays, Fridays, and Sundays.
But it’s making some of the best wine in the state.
The winery is tucked into the woods like a ski chalet, with a small but cozy tasting room, a tiny outside area, and a few picnic tables. The tasting room has an almost hipster vibe, with eclectic music and mismatched stemware. The winery’s dog, Trady, is one of the most well-behaved winery dogs I’ve seen. Check out Trady’s Instagram account for more information.
The winery specializes in European style wines. On our latest visit, we opted for the full nine wine tasting (there’s also a half tasting and a food and wine pairing option). The tasting comes with sourdough bread made on the premises and an excellent Sicilian olive oil called Galardo, which the winery also sells. The owner of Galardo is a friend of Gabriele Rausse, the owner/winemaker of the winery.
The Wine and Marla’s Rating
The tasting varies based on what’s available, as with most wineries. This go-round we had:
1. Chasselas Doré Sparkling 2018, the winery’s first sparkling wine, similar to champagne 😊
2. Chardonnay 2017, in stainless steel, clean and bright, more minerally 😊
3. Pinot Grigio 2017, more full bodied, with a higher alcohol content than one usually gets from this grape 😊
4. Dry Rosé 2017, 60% Merlot and 40% Malbec 😊
5. Malbec 2017, aged in neutral oak for eight months 😊 1/2
6. Cabernet Franc 2016, aged in neutral oak for eight months
7. Cabernet Sauvignon 2016, 12 months in oak, a lighter bodied cab sav
8. Tannat 2017, richer, more robust, sometimes compared to Nebbiolo
9. Kalian Montbazillac 2015, a French dessert aperitive wine. It’s a combination of Sauvignon Blanc and Simeon. It’s made with a fungus, allowing noble rot to develop on the grape, which shrivels it. The grape is picked basically when the grape is a raisin, so there are no added sugars.
We have liked this winery so much that we’ve visited several times, in groups of two, four, and six, bringing additional family members and friends.
In past visits we’ve also had Riesling, Rosso (a combination of Petit Verdot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc), Merlot, and a fabulous Viognier I fell in love with. I was assured it will be available again in the near future.
The wines are also reasonably priced! Individual bottles range from $18 to $28. They’re discounted if you purchase three or more.
Note that Doug, Bobby and Jess drink more red wine than I do and gave the reds higher ratings. They are welcome to write their own blog posts or to add to this one. 😊
What you won’t find on the website is the backstory, which is interesting. Mr. Rausse is from Italy and has worked as the head groundskeeper at Monticello, the historic home of Thomas Jefferson. He was part of the original team at Barboursville Vineyards in nearby Gordonsville and has worked at several other wineries in the area. His son and other family members are also involved in the winery and tasting room.
The winery is worth a trip in itself. But if you’re looking to visit several wineries or some of the historic sites in Central Virginia, I suggest adding this stop to your itinerary.
Learn more about Gabriele Rouse winery by visiting its website or checking out its Facebook page. To plan your next trip to Central Virginia, check out more wineries close by on the Monticello Wine Trail.