In 1976, Gianni Zonin, owner of the largest private wine producer in Italy, purchased a historic estate about 20 miles northwest of Charlottesville. The founding of Barboursville Vineyards on this property is one of the most important milestones on the Virginia wine timeline and is widely considered the beginning of the modern day Virginia wine industry.

The historic centerpiece of the 900-acre Barboursville property is the ruins of the home—designed by Thomas Jefferson—that once belonged to James Barbour, 18th governor of Virginia (1812–1814).

Zonin recruited fellow Italian Gabriele Rausse to serve as the first winemaker and help establish the initial vineyards at Barboursville. In 1990, Luca Paschina moved to Virginia from his home in Alba, Italy and became the winemaker at Barboursville.

Barboursville was just the fifth winery in the state when it was established in 1976. Much has changed in the 40 years since Zonin started Barboursville Vineyards. Today there are 275 farm wineries in Virginia, and Barboursville is one of the most renowned and largest (producing 40,000 cases annually) wineries in the commonwealth.

To commemorate the 40th anniversary of the founding of Barboursville, the Zonin family and Luca Paschina hosted dinners at the winery the last weekend of October. Paschina also bottled a limited edition 40th anniversary version of their flagship red blend, Octagon.

Visitors can experience Barboursville history by enjoying back vintages of Octagon and other wines available at the 1821 Library, adjacent to the main tasting room.

—Frank Morgan

Written By

Frank Morgan