There is a lot going on at Fabbioli Cellars these days. Not only are they growing a wide variety of grapes and making great wines, but they're also growing rows of garlic, asparagus, raspberry bushes, and last but not least pear trees. We even saw some hops creeping up their training lines the last time we visited the property in Leesburg! No wonder Doug Fabbioli, owner and winemaker, has been recognized as one of the main leaders of the local wine industry and was recently awarded for innovation.
Among Fabbioli's numerous innovations and constant drive to develop new products, is his famous Pear Wine. If you've had the pleasure to savor their Aperitif Pear Wine and seen the limited edition, "Pear in the Bottle," you may have asked yourself, "How did they get a real pear inside the bottle?" Well, here is a little window into how Fabbioli Cellars makes this delicious wine.
A few years ago, Doug started experimenting with making a pear wine from the Asian pear tree on the winery's Leesburg property. The process of attaching the bottles in the trees took a few tries, but success was born! Soon afterwards, he decided to expand the endeavor to make the pear wine and lease an additional three acres of Asian pear trees out in Lovettsville, VA. We recently had the privilege to visit the gorgeous pear orchard in Lovettsville. There, we met with Ben Sedlins, their vineyard manager, who kindly took the time to walk us through the orchard and talk to us about the process. He told us that they recently put the bottles on the trees and would be coming back to trim the pear trees to enhance growth. He also mentioned that he was in the process of deciphering the 4-5 varieties of Asian pears on the property. On the north side of the orchard is about 180 bottles hanging on the pear trees, each bottle carefully positioned over the immature pear buds and wrapped with a net, waiting for the fruit to mature inside the glass. Definitely an unusual sight at a pear orchard, but imagine your guests amazement as you bring out your bottle of pear port to the table with a real, full-sized ripe pear inside the bottle! That pear may very well be sitting in some of the most delicious dessert pear wine you've ever had. For even more of an impression on your guests or to celebrate a special occasion, you can also purchase one of their few ship bottles with a pear inside.
In addition to the sweeter port-style Aperitif Pear Wine, the vineyard also produces an off-dry wine, the Una Pera with the pears from the orchard. Their port-style aperitif is fortified with a pear brandy distilled at Catoctin Creek Distilling Company that is made from Fabbioli's Asian pears and aged in whiskey barrels. Each year at harvest, a portion of the pear wine is sent to Catoctin Creek Distilling Company for their pear brandy distillation. This flavorful and balanced aperitif wine won a gold medal at the 2012 Los Angeles International Wine Competition and a People's Choice Award at the 2009 Virginia Wine Showcase. It compliments perfectly desserts, fruits and cheeses. It's aging process is unique, following the Spanish Solera System, ensuring a consistent alcohol, sugar and flavor across the years. This wine aging method involves saving a specific amount of wine from previous years, stacking the oldest vintage on the bottom barrels, and the youngest on the top. Each year, a percentage of the bottom (the oldest) barrel's volume is drawn off to be bottled, leaving the headspace created to be filled with wine from the barrels above, which themselves will be filled with the level above them, while the last year's barrels on the very top level will be topped up with this year harvest's wine. This system produces wines of relatively consistent quality over the years.
The Una Pera, likewise lovely, is made with crushed Asian pears from the orchard using an apple crusher before pressing them with their wine press. The pear juice is then fermented cold in stainless steel tanks. Both the Una Pera and the sweeter port-style Aperitif Pear Wine pair very nicely with a spiced apple jelly or MC2 Confections Fabbioli Pear Port, a chocolate pear ganache infused with Fabbioli's Pear Port. The Una Pera is this month's featured wine out at Fabbioli Cellars and is included as part of the tasting and food pairing.