Barboursville’s Wine Maker and Sportsman Luca Paschina

“We could in the United States, make as great a variety of wines as are made in Europe, not exactly of the same kind, but doubtless as good.”  – Thomas Jefferson

The local press has always taken a proud and sophisticated interest in Barboursville Vineyards. With more than four decades of success to its name, the prophetic words of Thomas Jefferson have come true in Virginia today.

In 2016, Barboursville celebrated its 40th anniversary, the success of its award-winning wine, Octagon, and its dec- orated winemaker and general manager, Luca Paschina. This isn’t the first time someone has written about Barboursville or the winemaker, but it may be the first arti- cle that also mentions Paschina’s sporting passions.Paschina’s journey can be credited to his fellow countryman Gianni Zonin, heir to an Italian wine enterprise that is nearly two centuries old. Zonin is chairman of Italy’s Casa Vinicola Zonin, the parent company of Barboursville Vineyards that also owns seven estates in Italy’s finest wine-producing regions: the Veneto, Friuli, Piedmont, Lombardy, Tuscany, Sicily and Puglia.

Zonin was determined to find suit- able land to plant a vineyard in the United States. He searched the country, including California’s Napa Valley, but found what he was looking for in central Virginia. As it happened, he purchased the property in 1976 on Jefferson’s birthday.

Jefferson designed the manor house at Barboursville for his friend, James Barbour, owner of the plantation. Construction began in 1814, while Barbour held office as Virginia’s governor, and was completed in 1821. That same year, the Zonin family founded its wine business in Veneto, Italy.

Barbour’s other legacy included sustainable agriculture in a time when most landowners focused on growing tobacco. While they depleted the land of nutrients, Barbour wisely rotated crops and main- tained sheep-grazing practices that benefit- ed his soil.The adaptation of the plantation within the viticultural traditions of the Zonin family has given Barboursville a her- itage of agricultural passion and purpose for eight generations. But true success would not have been possible without the guiding hand of Paschina.

When Paschina arrived in the United States, the winery had 42 acres of vines and produced 6,500 cases of wine each year. Today Barboursville has 190 acres of vines and produces more than 37,000 cases annually.

In June 2014, Paschina received the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic. This represents modern Italy’s recognition of the highest distinction in occupations. The induction of Paschina is an expression of respect for the international recognition he has garnered with his work at Barboursville Vineyards.

“I congratulate Luca for being awarded one of Italy’s highest civilian hon- ors,” said Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe. “We are grateful to have such a tireless champion for the Virginia wine industry in Luca, whose wines have won the Governor’s Cup competition an unprece- dented four times and distinguished them- selves in many international competitions.” Last year, his Excellency Claudio Bisogniero, the ambassador of Italy, and Gianni Zonin celebrated the induction into the order with Paschina at a ceremony at the Hay Adams in Washington, D.C. the order with Paschina at a ceremony at the Hay Adams in Washington, D.C.

“Italy and Virginia share historical and cultural connections going back to Mazzei and Jefferson in the earliest stages of the union,” said Bisogniero. “Both were interested in viticulture and Barboursville Vineyards is a new partnership model which exemplifies their visions. Italy’s cel- ebrated Zonin winemakers, devotedly curated and cultivated by Italian-Virginian Luca Paschina, whose contributions to both countries are the motivations of the honor conferred to him, produced an excellent result.”

Born in Torino, Paschina earned his degree in oenology (the study of wines) at Umberto Primo, Alba. His first job was assistant winemaker at Luigi Bosca E Figli Winery in Canelli, where his father was head winemaker.

“When I was in my late 20s, I wanted to work for a company devoted to quality from the vineyard up,” said Paschina. “When the Zonin family recruit- ed me 26 years ago, I gladly accepted and have appreciated Barboursville and my home in Virginia ever since.”

Paschina attributes much of his success to the employees. Barboursville employs 34 people full time plus an addi- tional 18 people from January to October. He especially relies on Daniele Tessaro, associate winemaker, and Fernando Franco, vineyard manager.

“I have hobbies I want to enjoy. Fly-fishing is my favorite. I go 20-25 times a year, even for a few hours. The more you fish the same rivers, the better. I love Virginia’s native brook trout. Their colors are magnificent.”

The Rapidan River near Orange County is one of his favorites, especially in the spring, when high water tends to dis- place the fish and he can find them in dif- ferent locations.

“I ship wine from our vineyard for the occasion. I love wading into the surf. I mostly blind-cast and catch stripers and sometimes bluefish. We eat some of what we catch right there and smoke them after prior curing with salt and sugar. We also vacuum-pack and freeze fish to enjoy at home.”

“I ship wine from our vineyard for the occasion. I love wading into the surf. I mostly blind-cast and catch stripers and sometimes bluefish. We eat some of what we catch right there and smoke them after prior curing with salt and sugar. We also vacuum-pack and freeze fish to enjoy at home.”

Paschina prefers fishing without a guide and is delighted by landscapes as much as he is by fishing. The same is true when he hunts. Occasionally Paschina hunts woodcock, goose and turkey, but prefers deer because he likes the meat. His family favors venison and he knows how to cook it.

Paschina prefers fishing without a guide and is delighted by landscapes as much as he is by fishing. The same is true when he hunts. Occasionally Paschina hunts woodcock, goose and turkey, but prefers deer because he likes the meat. His family favors venison and he knows how to cook it.

Paschina prefers fishing without a guide and is delighted by landscapes as much as he is by fishing. The same is true when he hunts. Occasionally Paschina hunts woodcock, goose and turkey, but prefers deer because he likes the meat. His family favors venison and he knows how to cook it.

Paschina prefers fishing without a guide and is delighted by landscapes as much as he is by fishing. The same is true when he hunts. Occasionally Paschina hunts woodcock, goose and turkey, but prefers deer because he likes the meat. His family favors venison and he knows how to cook it.

“Daniele and Fernando are terrific to work with and very good at what they do. We tour Bordeaux and other places in Europe together with others in the industry to learn, exchange ideas and discover trans- lational techniques. It is all about the histo- ry of wine, food and Old-World elegance.” But there is more to the man than winemaking. Paschina is an avid fly fisher- man and hunter.

“I enjoy catching fish in diverse conditions in times when no one else is on the river. Sometimes I even wait for high water when it is somewhat discolored. For some reason, the fish pile up in those cir- cumstances. I love to fish for them.”

In the warmer months, Paschina enjoys fishing for smallmouth bass with woolly-bugger flies. He also spends five days each year in June on Martha’s Vineyard with friends from Italy, fly-fish- ing for striped bass.

“I typically hunt deer and want to shoot and kill the ani- mal quickly. I look for a clean shot under the shoulder, right through the heart or lungs, where the animal will bleed profound- ly.”

Paschina explained wounding an animal is the worst; the animal suffers and you can taste the tainted blood once it is cooked. He typically uses a scope, so his shot is accurate and his prey dies quickly.

“Perhaps bow hunting is indeed more of a sport, but more often the meat can taste bad because deer die more slowly. If the animal is being pursued, its adrenaline kicks in, which also spoils the flavor. My children love venison, but can detect taint- ed blood and won’t eat the meat if it is gamey.”

When he is not fishing or hunting or spending time with his family, Paschina can be found at Barboursville.

“My goal is to not expand Barboursville Vineyards’ acres further. Our plans involve removing older vineyards, changing varietals and optimizing the site to the varietal that fits best. We want to increase quality, not quantity. I love what I do. It challenges me and so does hunting and fishing.”

You can taste his passions in the wine. For more information on Barboursville Vineyards, visit www.bbvwine.com.

Joe Shields has led integrated digital marketing and public rela- tions programs for consumer, biopharmaceutical and govern- ment organizations. He lives with his family near Charlottesville, Virginia.