Spring Newsletter 2016

Posted by on May 11, 2016 in Andrew's Newsletter | No Comments

1 Veritas Spring
Easter is over and spring is sprung. May is an important date, as it is when we celebrate the final emergence from the gloom of winter. The sap rises and the vines start to weep from their pruning wounds as the overture to bud break. Our spirits reawaken to the veritable joys of being alive.

2 Veritas Spring

Burgeoning bud

The Celts believed that this is a critical time when the boundaries between the human and the supernatural worlds were removed and people needed to take special precautions to protect themselves against enchantments. It was believed that on the eve of May, witches and fairies roamed free. The Beltane fire festival originated as a spring ritual in which cattle were herded between two huge bonfires to protect them from evil and disease. You may have seen a similar ritual performed by wine growers to ward off the gods of frost.

5 Frost Fires

Vineyard growers in France burning fires in an attempt to prevent frost on the vines

“Don’t just sit there, do something!“ It should really go “Don’t do something, just sit there!” After one of the warmest winters in modern day history we had bud break two weeks before tax day (April 15th) and as you can imagine we paid the price to Mother Nature who promptly frazzled all those baby leaves that had dared to appear before it was time. In the Central Virginia region, few vineyards escaped; some lit fires and some flew helicopters but to no avail.


6 Freeze

Frost-damaged leaf

But hope springs eternal and despite the freeze, in which we estimated we lost almost 40% of the primary buds that had broken, we battled on and our intrepid Field Marshall Tonkins who was heard yelling “To hell with the torpedoes,” carried on and planted 7,500 new plants on Bold Mountain. Remember I started off calling it Bald Mountain? Then we all realized what was involved so we changed it to Bold Mountain. Yes folks this is it, after fifteen years of practice we are finally hitting our stride and with all of our experience (known to most as mistakes) we are planting vines for wines in the best spot of the whole Rockfish Valley: 5,000 Cab Franc and 2,500 Petit Verdot. Yahoo!

Planting on Bold Mountain is no easy task. The soil, one of the major components of the Veritas terroir, consists of degenerate granite – granite that is so old that you can crumble it or at least parts of it in your fingers. Geologically, the Blue Ridge Mountains were as big as the Alps so you can imagine how long it has taken them to wear down to where they are now. The official name of the soil is Edneytown, a mixture of degenerate granite and loam, which characterizes most of the vineyard.

Working with Alex Blackburn, the renowned soil scientist, we dug over 25 soil pits, each at least 8 feet deep, to map the topography of the soil on Bold Mountain. Recently we discovered another clue to the extraordinary nature of our terroir when the Field Marshall, in preparation for planting, unearthed what was quite a collection of oyster shells, proving that at one time the top of the hill was once a seabed. That would take us back to Proterozoic Era almost 3 billion years ago! What ruined it all was when Chloe pointed out that the area where the shells were found was pretty close to where we had oysters to celebrate her wedding six months ago! Oh well, it sounded good at the time.

8 Terroir - Edneytown Degenerate Granite

The terroir on Bold Mountain

9 Drilling the holes

Ashley using the auger

The ground is so tough that we had to use an augur to create the hole into which we put the new plants. With a bit of luck the vines should be producing by 2019 – nothing happens quickly in wine growing.

10 Planting Bold Mountain

Reyna planting baby vines

What other news?


All the 2015 whites (except Harlequin) are in the bottle and Emily, Paul, Elliott and Jolie are gearing up to start on the reds, the first being Merlot and then Cabernet Franc. Remember last year all was well with the harvest until early October when it started to rain. We were worried the reds would be diluted by the rain, however flavors are good and the wines are as elegant as ever.

Employee of the Season

Employee of the season is one of the most photographed individuals in the entire Veritas network. He came to us in March of 2014 as a rookie recruit that we took on because of his calm nature and work ethic. Since then he has proved himself worthy of everyone’s respect and yes I’ve got to say it – love! I think I can speak for everyone, including the proud parents, Chloe and Elliott, in congratulating Goose on his seminal achievement!

12 Goose

Silly Goose, Scintilla is for humans

Yes folks, it is time for the curtain to rise on Starry Nights for 2016! The first group for the year is Jimi Smooth and HitTime, so show some R-E-S-P-E-C-T and mosey on out for the season opener on June 11th.




Patricia and I went to Trinidad to celebrate the wedding of Keris Niles, the daughter of Clyde Niles, my best buddy from the class of 1965 -1970 at Bristol University Medical School in the United Kingdom.

14 Clyde, Andrew, Judy

Andrew’s friend Clyde and his wife visit Veritas

I never realized Trinidad was so close to South America, we could actually see Venezuela in the distance. We had a ball.

17 Keris Nyles.

The beautiful bride Keris

Patricia and I are off to a two month virtual Tour de France vacation starting in Paris then visiting Chablis, Bourgogne, Epernay for dinner with The Madame Veuve Clicquot, Alsace, Jura, Northern Rhone, Avignon, Carcassone, Marmande, Chinon, joining up with the family and taking the TGV to Montpelier and doing a family week in Marseillan, coming back on July 6th. Zut Alors and Bon Voyage!

George has been chumming it up with the Governor of Virginia, Terry McAuliffe and the Secretary of Agriculture, Todd Haymore with a visit to the old country, The United Kingdom, on a trade mission.  Strengthening our ties and looking to increase our presence in one of the most competitive markets in the world second only to Hong Kong. Here he is at Berry Bros. & Rudd, probably the most prestigious wine distributor in the world. To our huge delight they chose our Petit Verdot 2013 to distribute to their private wine club.

18 George at BBRwith the Gov.

George visits London with Governor Terry McAuliffe

Grand – daughters, the major reason for the newsletter. Look at those girls grow!

19 Grand children Easter 2016

Lydia, Hailey, Charlotte and Amelia

Well, that’s all folks, from the optimists at Veritas where all the ladies do Jazzercise and all the men wear Lululemon shorts!

Hoping you had a Happy Mother’s and wishing you a Great Father’s Day,

Andrew Hodson, DWS
Retired Dilettante and Raconteur