American Wine Region of 2023, Wine Enthusiast Awards


The critics convened by Wine Enthusiast for annual rankings of wineries, wines, and wine regions have named Charlottesville, Virginia, as the Wine Region of the Year for 2023. Followers of the many fine wineries in this neighborhood will not be surprised to find their appreciation affirmed, but might not have suspected this ranking in national comparison. This impartial view truly does constitute another vivid marker, standing for the many international competitive rankings in the top class, won by wines produced in our energetic wine region.

(Above, L-R) Viticulturist Fernando Franco with Winemakers Luca Paschina and Daniele Tessaro

As an equally fortunate footnote, Barboursville Vineyards, which had been nominated for Winery of the Year in the same assessment, ceded that designation to Black Stallion Estate Winery of Napa, California. We were as honored to be nominated on our own, as we are to be victorious with our region, and are happy to have played our part in this notable accomplishment.


As is well known in the world of wine, this annual recognition is not the first which Wine Enthusiast has bestowed upon our founding owner’s pioneering work in creating this wine region. Gianni Zonin — named a Wine Star winner in his own right 10 years ago, with the Wine Enthusiast Lifetime Achievement Award of 2013, was born into a great family of now seven generations in winemaking, and was a leading wine producer in the Veneto when, in 1976, he founded Barboursville Vineyards as his sole wine estate outside of Italy. The incomparable daring represented by that great leap of viticultural faith and lifelong commitment to wine — ignoring the most sympathetic, “authoritative” advice to plant tobacco instead at this beautiful estate —  together with his proof that wines love to grow in our region, set the stage for investors from many walks of life to follow in his footsteps. 

(Above, L-R, Gianni Zonin creating his vineyard, with Gabriele Rausse and a guest from Italy, Count Cicogna, 1976).


Gianni Zonin was wonderfully fortunate in his appointment of an agricultural authority and good friend from Vicenza, Gabriele Rausse, to come to Virginia to act as his winemaker and general manager for all winery developments. Gabriele, in turn, so distinguished himself and this vineyard that he eventually chose to put his own capital at risk in creating a winegrowing career producing wines in this region under his own label. The extraordinary success these two great leaders achieved, in making Charlottesville internationally famous and respected for fine wines, has been built upon since 1991 by the career of the most honored winemaker in Virginia history, Luca Paschina of Piemonte.

(Luca Paschina and Gianni Zonin at the historic landmark Ruins, 2005).