Summer 2018 Newsletter

The Blue Ridge in Summer

Summer 2018

Summer is the time we have been waiting for all winter long and can hardly wait for during the early spring, and when summer is over we will be sad that those hazy-crazy days have gone.

Vines in the Summer Sun

It is almost as hard to get things done in summer as it is during the Christmas holidays. In France, the French admit it and everyone goes on vacation. The whole country nearly shuts down, and if you want the best of Paris do not go during August – everyone’s at Cote D’Azur.

And so it is with grape growing, we are simply waiting in the sultry, sweaty sun for the grapes to ripen – the summertime blues for which, as you remember from Eddie Cochran, there is no cure. Then again, you can think of summer as a time when the living is easy, when the fish are jumping, and the cotton is high if you are Porgy from Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess.

If you were Albert Camus or Jean Paul Sartre you would be in an existentialist’s nightmare: a time when you have no control over your own existence, the only control you have is your own reaction to the nightmare – that may be blistering heat or monsoon-like rain.

Viticulture: Don’t do something. Just sit there and wait.

News: Weather is not news. If someone is writing to you and they mention the weather then you know for sure there is no news. That said, here’s news on the weather: it has not been a good summer – too cloudy, too wet, and not enough sunshine. It’s that simple, but I guess we deserve it after the great harvest we had last year.

As usual this time of year we are netting the fruit from the pesky critters that range from birds to deer to bears to racoons and groundhogs.

Harvest has started, whites first as usual.

Supper Series

Chef Joel Walding and his team are renowned for producing gourmet class food for our weddings and large-scale events like Starry Nights but deep within them there is the ever-burning creative instinct to push the limits of the joys of wine and food pairing. We’ve been working together perfecting ever elusive combinations of wine and food (perfection is not for mortals). The result: The Supper Series: where we share with you the wines we are excited about and some new flavor combinations we think are interesting. It’s like sharing a family meal together, and getting the inside scoop behind the wines and the stories behind them. We would love you to join us for our next Supper Series… date to be determined, but certainly this fall.

Joel and the Chefs

Flying Fox – The Update

The grape does not fall far from the vine, yes folks Flying Fox acquired by Emily George and Chloe almost 3 years ago is undergoing a major reboot along with rebranding and re-location that I think for anyone or any fox is a lot to go through.
The newly finished and fancy tasting room opens September 1 and will be ready to rock and roll by the time you read this newsletter.

Flying Fox’s Entrance

The hype has been building on social media and if I had to guess more people already know about the Flying Fox reboot than are likely to read this newsletter!
Flying Fox is the new trend, come and see for yourself the Fox is cool.

Angel Cruz – Dining Room Manager

Person of the Season – Angel Cruz

Angel, like so many of the of our staff, has had a long standing relationship with Veritas going back umpteen years. He first started on the wait staff when we started doing weddings he then he moved on the Boar’s Head, then onto Keswick and finally back to the Farmhouse in the position of Dining Room Manager. He recently passed his Level 1 award in wine from the WSET as part of his continued progress in providing the Farmhouse guests with the service that the Farmhouse aspires to.

The Farmhouse and the Farmhouse Retreat

One of the commonest comments that Patricia and I get (especially at Starry Nights when there are literally thousands of people at the winery) is: “Did you ever imagine that you (Veritas) would be so successful as this?”
The simple answer is an affirmative no, followed by the immediate rejoinder, “what is success?”
And as anyone who knows me, has heard me say “success is not about getting what you want. It is about wanting what you get”
We have never actually planned anything in the sense of writing a business plan and forecasting revenues it has mostly been “Let’s give it a try and see how it works out.”

The Farmhouse at Veritas

And nothing could be truer for us than what Patricia has developed at the Veritas Farmhouse and how that has evolved. It doesn’t take too much of a stretch of imagination to envision converting an old Virginia Farmhouse into a successful Bed and Breakfast as we have done. Apart from the nice décor and service the Farmhouse at Veritas is so much more than your average B&B.

I have never waxed lyrical about The Retreats at the Farmhouse in the Veritas newsletter because the descriptions and the events are so well covered on the Farmhouse website but here’s the thing… I, me, yes, Andrew Hodson, at my wife’s urging, decided to partake in one of the extended retreats. I should add here that the Retreat comes in two packages: a one-day “Mini Retreat” and a more extended full three-day Retreat. And here is the background to the “Retreat” concept all based on our own experience as we have struggled through the last eighteen years.

Our Health Trip to Vermont in 2010

It goes way back to 2010 when we were just getting into the Wedding business. We both realized that we had been overdoing it, so it was Patricia’s idea for the first time ever for us to go on a “health vacation.” This was partly to improve our well being but also to “dry out” – food and wine becoming an occupational health hazard. And so with no past experience to draw on we chose a diet-controlled hiking vacation in Vermont. It comprised total of 10 days in what was a ski lodge in the winter and a health resort in the summer. Typically waking every morning at 6.30 to Qigong – breathing exercises till about 7.00 followed by a calorie-controlled breakfast – (you could always get extra food just depended on your major goal in going). The next event of the day was a 2-3 hour hike in the gorgeous wooded landscape of Vermont. Lunch and rest back at the Lodge between 1 and 2 followed 2 afternoon sessions of anything from dance to swimming to strength training then Yoga from 5-6 pm supper from 6.30 -7.00pm after a full day there was only one option – bed. If you could handle it massages were available up to nine o’clock.

We had a ball – loved every minute of it – and that is what set Patricia thinking. hat if we offered a slightly softer more luxurious version of a health spa that incorporates the spirituality of yoga with the health benefits of hiking with high quality food and wine thrown in the concept of an escape from the hum-drum a mental and physical RETREAT was born.

Yoga at the Farmhouse Retreat

Whether you need a break from your partner or whether you need more time with your partner whether you are single or divorced widowed or newly married here was a time to replenish. The day starts with early morning – (7.00am) Yoga for about an hour that is followed by a nutritious Farmhouse breakfast (don’t forget breakfast is the specialty de la maison – no calorie restrictions). Next is the high point of the exercise program:the hike – backpack, water and packed lunch provided. A bus takes us to the trailhead of one of the countless breathtaking trails that wend their way through the beautiful wooded hills of the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.

Picnic lunch on the trail piqued by the fresh air and appetite sauce! We travel back to the Farmhouse for a variety of afternoon activities that include cooking with the Chef at the Farmhouse, winery tours with tastings, options for massage and even horse riding with Indian Summer Guide Service. The overall result is much greater than anyone of the component parts particularly the yoga that immediately creates that sense of mindfulness that fosters a sense a true camaraderie and enjoyment add to that the fresh air of the hikes and the enjoyment of learning about the two most dear things to every human on the planet – food and wine!

Family News

Emily and Joe at the beach this Summer

Nothing fills me with greater happiness than to let you all know that our daughter Emily and her beau Joe Hall are to be married at Veritas on November 24th of this year!

She said yes to the dress

The 5 Grandgirls at the Beach!

Isla the youngest of our five GrandGirls, of course spoilt to death by her four cousins is the focus of the whole family

Isla at 20 months old

Bill Tonkins, our Field Marshall of the vines and his dear wife Diane have been hosting three of their grandchildren and their Son, Guy, for the past three weeks. Needless to say, we have not seen much of Bill and Di!

The Tonkins Clan

As I mentioned at the beginning we are in a “holding- pattern” at the edge of harvest full of expectation yet still at the mercy of mother-nature: my existentialist nightmare.

Despite the fact that there is not much happening to the grapes other than ripening our family continues to grow at an alarming rate.

I hope you have enjoyed your read of the newsletter, as we all look forward to reaping the rewards of the last nine months work.

From everyone at Veritas I hope you all had a super Labor Day and see you in the fall.

Andrew Hodson
Raconteur and Dilettante.
Bottle Washer Retired