Harvest 2015

Posted by on Sep 15, 2015 in Andrew's Newsletter, Harvest | No Comments

Every fall I think of autumn!

And boy has it been a fun time what with a bumper harvest, Chloe’s wedding and Molly’s baby. There is never a dull moment at Veritas.

I am a bit of a sentimentalist and I always like to set the tone with “To Autumn” by John Keats, published in 1819, two years before his death on Halloween in 1821.
It starts off:

Mist over the Mountains

“Autumn season of mist and mellow fruitfulness
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun,
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core.”

Autumn vines

I do not think there is any other time of the year when one’s senses are so scented with the season, when colors bombard the visual senses with explosions of golden yellow that fires the rustic leaves of sugar maple with the glory of autumn. Just get up before dawn and smell the air, sweets of caramel and honey whirl with damp richness of the dank forest floor. One can almost taste the air and drink the atmosphere. What is it that excites the senses so, that makes me, and I think many people so sentimental about autumn?

We are all human and as humans we are primarily visual creatures to which smell, taste and sound have helped us survive in our evolutionary “superiority” over the rest of the animal kingdom. Deep in the human brain there are circuits that link the primary senses to the fundamental centers for survival that also just happen to have major connection to emotion and memory. So autumn precedes a threat to our survival – winter, and that is why I think, “I miss you most of all my darling when autumn leaves start to fall.”


This year our grapes were full with ripeness to the core. The harvest, or what the French call “vendage,” (not to be mixed up with “cepage” which is the French term for a grape varietal) was abnormally good this year. The white grapes did the best with glorious, mellow fruitfulness. We brought in twice as much Sauvignon Blanc and almost three times the amount of Viognier than we did last year, completely and utterly destroying our confidence in predicting harvest yields (ref. 2015 Winter Newsletter). The reds, like the whites, were heading for glory and then along came Joaquin (the hurricane) with a few other depressive characters and what was going to be glory was snatched from us by a late season ten-day stretch of clouds and rain. We did what we have done in so many harvests before: we hit the emergency button and thanks to NOAA (National Oceanographic Atmospheric Administration) and our brilliant, hard-working crew, we harvested over 50 tons of fruit in two days – that is a quarter of the whole Veritas crop.

The Crew - Harvest 2015

Jolie ~ our bubble in the cellar

It struck me as I was working in the cellar over the harvest that Jolie has been working with us so long I cannot remember when she started. I used to spend almost 2 hours every morning during harvest checking on the progress of the ferments by measuring the specific gravity and the temperature of the wine. We now have “Sven,” (named by Jolie) a tricky machine that can make the measurements just by placing a probe in the wine. So dear old Sven, like Jolie, has saved me a lot of laborious work in the cellar and for that I am ever grateful. Jolie is an integral and essential part of the winemaking team and she deserves credit for her long-standing devotion to her work.

Jolie Eves Thompson

Atlantic Seaboard Wine Association (ASWA):

I am beating our own drum a bit here but, in this very prestigious wine competition Veritas won a total of three gold medals for Petit Verdot, Viognier, and Vintner’s Reserve. Our Petit Verdot won “Best of Class.” Yes folks, that means Veritas has the best tested Petit Verdot on the Atlantic seaboard, all the way from Maine to Georgia.

Veritas Petit Verdot 2013

Molly had her baby!

After a few false starts Molly delivered her beautiful, bouncing baby boy Peter on October 31st weighing 5lbs. 7ozs. All of us shared in Molly and Andrew’s happiness.

Molly, Andrew, and PeterPeter

Chloe and Elliott got married

Chloe and ElliottSuperlatives aside, their wedding was fantastic, amazing, awesome, unbelievable and out of this world! The greatest joy was how their love spread to everyone at the wedding party. Everybody was in love and we celebrated that feeling to the best of our common English custom.

From the minute Maureen, Elliott’s mum, arrived from Singapore it was party time. Ray, Elliott’s Dad, arrived a couple of days later and then the “likely lads,” Elliott’s brother Matthew, and Alejandro, John, Tom, Dan and Will. Elliott was Will’s best man when Will got married in England and just for fun Will’s parents Tim and Ellen Jolly came along for the ride.

Our son George was Elliott’s best man and to ensure Elliott had a good send off from the land of bachelorhood George arranged a whole afternoon of skeet shooting. Matthew emerged as the champ, beating the socks off everyone. An afternoon shooting was followed by a stag night worthy of any stag (Elliott) I have known. It was only after that night that I knew for certain that Elliott was the man for Chloe.

Matthew, Elliott, and George

Maureen’s sister Linda and her husband Gareth came from England bringing Elliott’s maternal grandmother Nancy.


Now Nancy is the key to the whole story. Her husband Roy (Elliott’s paternal grandfather) was best friends, and I mean best of friends with Bill Tonkins (Chloe’s maternal grandfather) and you won’t believe this – I told you it was an unbelievable wedding, we have a picture of Chloe age 5 playing with Elliott age 5!

Bill Tonkins (Chloe’s Grandad) is the man in the foreground and his best buddy Roy (Elliott’s Granddad) is sitting opposite Bill.
Bill Tonkins (Chloe’s Grandad) is the man in the foreground and his best buddy Roy (Elliott’s Granddad) is sitting opposite Bill.


Well one thing led to another and Elliott decided that he wanted to study Enology at Plumpton College in England so with the family contact he came to Veritas as our harvest intern and the rest is history.

Grandkids at the Wedding
Grandkids at the Wedding


Chloe and her nieces
Chloe and her nieces


Amy Webb - Blue Ridge Floral Design
Amy Webb – Blue Ridge Floral Design


Father of the Bride ~ and the Bride!
Father of the Bride ~ and the Bride!


Mr. and Mrs. Elliott Watkins
Mr. and Mrs. Elliott Watkins


As I stated at the beginning of the newsletter there is never a dull moment at Veritas! Every one of us has worked and shared and worked and shared in the common good; not only the soil and the grapes but also in nurturing our own wellbeing. Chloe and Elliott ‘s love has brought us even closer together as a family as we realize how important we all are to one another.

From all of us at Veritas, have a loving Thanksgiving because just looking at the rest of the world we have so much to be Thankful for.

Andrew Hodson
WSET Diploma candidate
Raconteur and Dilettante
Bottle Washer Retd.