2017 WineGrower of the Year Nominee's

Winegrower of the Year: The award recipient is recognized by others for their farming of high-quality wine grapes. They are willing to adopt innovative viticultural techniques & have demonstrated leadership within the Loudoun County wine growing industry. In addition, they promote collaborative relationships between growers and wineries & are involved in raising the awareness of the Loudoun County wine industry.

Please review each nominee's biography and comments from their nominators. Each LWA member winery & LWGA vineyard can place their vote for the 2017 WineGrower of the Year award to be presented at the Loudoun Wine Awards this year on Friday, October 13th. Voting is available until Thursday, September 28th and can be completed at the bottom of this page.

Please note: If you are a member of both the LWA & the LWGA you are eligible for one vote.

Katie Desouza, owner, winegrower & winemaker at Casanel vineyards & Winery

Biography: Katie has been the Vineyard Manager and Winemaker at Casanel Vineyards and Winery since 2013. She has been a pioneer in pushing the importance of growing high quality Virginia fruit and showcasing our unique terroir providing a true Virginia palate to the world stage. Her wines are clean, fruit forward, and are a perfect balance of showing each grape varietal. She has proven if the vineyards are healthy, high quality Virginia wines can be made.

Nominator's Comments: Katie has been in the press almost monthly for the last 2 years and has been specifically cited by the Loudoun Times Mirror, Washington Post, Middleburg Life, and numerous blogs for her care in growing grapes on Casanel's property. The use of more organic means of grape growing has been reflected in her wines as they have all won numerous medals, specifically in international competitions. Her unique position at Casanel being both in the vineyards, making the wine, as well as being in the tasting room interacting with customers shows a vested interest in making Virginia wine successful on all fronts.

 Carl DiManno, President & Winemaker at 868 Vineayrds

Severino Maya garcia, Owner of Maya farm services

Biography: Severino arrived in Loudoun County in 2003 at the age of 16. He started working at Doukenie (then Windham) with Doug Fabbioli, David Carnes, and his uncle Quintin Garcia. Sevi left Loudoun for a year to do construction in South Carolina, returning with more skills, maturity and a working knowledge of English. He became the crew chief at Doukenie and also helped at a number of other vineyards. As Fabbioli Cellars developed, Sevi was involved in every step of production growth. From planting, building construction, fruit processing and bottling, Severino worked and led his crew through each process needed to be accomplished. Currently, he has 16 different clients that he cares for with 18 staff members providing numerous services on the farm. His knowledge of crops includes grapes, berries, hops, pears and apples.

Nominator's Comments: With a constant eye towards quality, Severino is the main reason that Fabbioli Cellars and his clients have achieved the status that they have. By filling the off season needs on the farm of construction, fencing, bottling and concrete, Sevi can keep his crew employed maintaining the knowledge base and standards over the years. Bluemont, Northgate, Notaviva, Dry Mill, Hiddencroft, Fabbioli, Winery 32, Quattro Goombas, Barns at Hamilton Station, La Grange and Vanish Brewery along with numerous independent growers utilize his services. Our growth as an industry in both quality and quantity has been made possible by the commitment and "can do" attitude of Severino and his team.

Doug Fabbioli.jpg

bill hatch, owner, winegrower & winemaker at zephaniah vineyards

Biography: Bill has developed a successful wine growing operation on his family farm. A farmer first, Bill has been farming in Loudoun county for over 66 years. In that time, Bill has transitioned the farm from a dairy to a pastured livestock and wine operation focusing on direct sales to consumers.

Nominator's Comments: Bill's grapes and wines have consistently won metals in the Virginia Governors Cup and Loudoun Wine Awards. Bill recently served on the board of the Loudoun Wineries Association and is now chair of the Loudoun Winegrowers Association. Bill loves to teach wine consumers about the agricultural history of Loudoun county and the farm work that goes in to each bottle of wine.

mark Malick, owner, winegrower at maggie malick wine caves 

Biography: 1982 - B.A. Business - Delaware Valley College | 1983 - 1988 - US Navy, pilot | 1988 - 2002 - pilot, USAirways | 2002 - present - vineyard manager, viticulturist, at Maggie Malick Wine Caves

Nominator's Comments: Mark started growing 5 acres of Viognier grapes in 2001 using Doug Fabbioli as a consultant. Since then he has added an additional 25 acres of vinifera grapes. Mark has a reputation as a high quality grape grower. He sells his fruit to several Loudoun vineyards as well as ones in Charlottesville, and as far away as the Northern Neck of Virginia. He has had a waiting list for several years. But Mark doesn't just sell grapes - he is also a vineyard realtor and sells properties to those looking to get into the business. but due to the particulars of our business, he doesn't sell to just anyone - he brings them out to his vineyard to see what is involved in running and operating a vineyard or winery just to make sure they don't get in over their heads. Some leave at that point, others, stay. For the ones who stay and take the plunge, he advises them as they get going in their new venture, to ensure they get off to a good start.  

Felipe Reyes, Vineyard team lead at doukenie winery

Biography: Felipe has been the Vineyard Team Lead at Doukenie Winery since 2007. He has helped manage 30 acres of estate vineyards at Doukenie another 20 acres of vineyards within the state.

Nominator's Comments: Felipe's hard work and dedication to the vineyard management is reflected in the quality of the fruit produced at Doukenie and shines through their award winning wines.

Mitch & Betsy Russ.JPG

Mitch & betsy russ, owners of russ mountain vineyards 

Biography: The idea of owning a vineyard was years in the making for Mitchell, a retired physician, and Betsy, a former nurse. Starting about 15 years ago, the Indianapolis, Indiana, couple envisioned themselves cultivating the soil and getting their hands dirty. The Russ's now own a 25-acre property in Bluemont, Virginia and have cultivated Russ Mountain Vineyards.

Nominator's Comments: Mitch and Betsy have been the glue that holds the Loudoun Winegrowers Association together. Their sense of winegrower community is immense over the past decasde. They have volunteered countless hours in support of the Loudoun Winegrower's Association. An organization that has been vital in helping Loudoun County grower's improve their fruit quality

dr. Jack Sexton, owner & winegrower at williams gap vineyard

Biography: A vet by trade, Jack is a native of Northern Virginia. He received his Bachelor of Science in Animal Science and Master of Science in Veterinary Science from the University of Maryland. In addition to his vet practices, he maintains a 30 acre vineyard on a knoll overlooking Round Hill, VA.

Nominator's Comments: Jack's beautifully sited vineyard in Round Hill is producing excellent red blends for Virginia at wineries such as Delaplane Cellars. He is also investing additional capital into his vineyard, expanding it from 30 acres to 60 acres over the next few years.


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One vote per LWA winery and LWGA Vineyard. If you are part of both associations, you only receive one vote.