Gabrielle Rausse

There are a bunch so close to home. Now that I have relocated I live so close to so many wineries that are producing good wine. It’s just awesome. And when I set my Waze app to take us to Gabrielle Rausse, it told me it was only 6.7 miles away. Perfect..

It is always wonderful to be the first ones at a winery a mere 20 minutes after opening. We arrived and were greeted and told that all tastings were conducted outside and provided a menu. We chose a table and chairs near the door into the facility and scoured the menu. We chose to do a white wine flight and red wine flight. Sadly, the rosé of malbec (grown at Turks Mountain, site of the incredible summer 2021 rose from Mt Ida!) was out of stock. Alas, we made it work.

Along with our flights, we got a baguette and chevre. This was a pro move of the most important order, since the chevre was from Caromont and amazing. It also made us feel intensely European, sitting in the woods with our wine flights and goat cheese and bread. Why is every day of my life not like this?

Let’s pause for a moment and note the importance of Gabrielle Rausse to Virginia Wine. He is one of the early pioneers, planting and cultivating wine grapes in the early 80s in Virginia, starting with Barboursville and moving on to help establish a number of other wineries, including his own. His contributions have earned him accolades, and maybe set the stage for the awesome collaborative nature of winemakers in Virginia.

OK, back to the tasting experience.

We started with the white flight, splitting each tasting bottle. First was the bianco. It featured approximately 80% of Chasselas Doré, 10% Viognier and 10% Gruner Veltliner. We did not love this one. Chasselas was a new to me grape, and I felt it and the viognier really dominated this blend. The flavors that came through were not at all to my style. We moved on to the Gruner Veltliner, which was amazing. It had the feel of Pinot Grigio that I adore and a pleasant crisp-ness. I liked this example of the grape. Third was a Roussanne – I was fascinated since I see so little of this grape in Virginia. To top it off, they let the grapes ferment in three ways – about a third was in stainless steel, a quarter in a new French Oak barrel, and the remainder went into a terra cotta amphora (of course I had to rush and message my friends at Arterra!). This gave it a nice mineral quality and I really didn’t notice oakiness at all in the wine. I like this one.

The fourth white wine was a sweet one, and we held off on that. We moved to the 2022 Rosso (I figure this has to be a beaujolais nouveau style, being so young). The Rosso went so amazingly with the bread and cheese that we were immediately transported to nirvana. If you go here, this is my #1 recommendation – Baguette, chevre and Rosso. You will not regret.

The Rosso is really a young, light table wine. It’s very drinkable and doesn’t really need a food pairing, and we decided that this is the wine you probably switch to when you’ve had enough coffee but it’s too early in the day for a big bold red wine. That seems like what the French do, no?

On to the 2021 Merlot. I didn’t get to ask, but I was shocked to see so many 2021s and 2022s on their menu – I assume they got hit had by the 2020 mother’s day frost that caused so much turmoil for so many in Virginia. While this is a very young merlot, it’s was drinkable. I think with another six months it will be drinking absolutely lovely. It had the sharpness in it that sort of felt tannic and sort of felt like it just wasn’t fully ready for me to drink it.

Similarly the 2021 Malbec was absolutely lovely and will become just more so given time. It was soft and lush and I think given six more months it’s going to show simply amazingly. Worth coming back for, this one is.

Finally the 2021 Cabernet Sauvignon – young but also coming in soft and showing that it’s going to be a lovely wine.

We then dove into the Monbazillac. This was totally not my style – very sweet – the notes indicated it was made with “noble rot,” and we really did not care for this wine. Again, we don’t do sweet wine and this one simply didn’t align with our style.

We actually wound up very curious about the Vino dal Basco wines on their menu and went for a flight, along with more baguette and some hummus.

The first wine was the sparkling version of the Chasselas Doré. It had a very yeasty feel to it. There was very nice fizz in it, and I could see it being very refreshing. However, this was not the one we got excited about. Just wait for that one.

Interestingly, this set of wines, made largely without sulfites and using the amphora, were really not to our style. The two examples of Malvasia Bianca were in more of an amber style, with more skin contact imparting a richer color. The 2021 was a bit darker than the 2022, but also had more flavor. They both carried that mineral undertone from the amphora. We liked the 2021 better and wondered how much of that was vintage versus aging process. Finally we had a 2022 Cabernet Franc done in this same style. It bore a similarity to the Rosso in my mind, with that young simple feel with hints or echoes of all that we know about Cab Franc to it. I rather liked this one.

Our server brought our hummus and bread and also a sample of the muscat ottonel. I was a little worried because I always think “dessert” when I hear muscat. However, this was simple and had only the faintest hint of sweet to it. We didn’t love it, but she then offered us a taste of the sparkling rosé of pinot noir. I got very excited because I just don’t know many wineries growing pinot noir in Virginia. This was amazing with the hummus and back to nirvana we went. I ended up bringing a bottle home afterwards. The server said that Rausse had planted the pinot at Blenheim Vineyards nearby.

All in all, it was an amazing day in a new spot. We sampled some great stuff, and there is no question that I will come back here soon to see what is evolving. The setting is so tranquil, and it’s so close to home, this is a can’t lose place to stop and sip!

2 thoughts on “Gabrielle Rausse

  1. We moved to Charlottesville from Midlothian about 10 months ago ourselves, in large part because of the proximity to the wineries, breweries, and UVA sports. I agree completely with your comment that it’s so lovely to be close. Whereas before it was a major thing to drive an hour and a half each way to some of our favorite wineries, now we can go on the spur of the moment, and be at any number of them in half an hour. I have not tried Rausse’s wines since having them at the Poplar Forest wine festival several years ago, at which time I didn’t care for them. But we’ll have to make it a point to get out there and try it. Thanks for this write-up!


    1. While I miss being closer to the NoVa wineries, they really aren’t all that far, and it’s so much quieter and calmer here.
      The setting at Rausse is very peaceful- go for an afternoon snack and wine- as spring continues and trees fill in its just going to be gorgeous! And I bet really pleasant in the summer since there will be a lot of shade. Let me know what you think when you go!


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