Autumn 2018 Newsletter
What could be a better way to start the Autumn Newsletter than by showing a water-color rendering of our very own vineyard painted by my truly beautiful and talented wife, Patricia? Or should it be by my, truly talented and beautiful wife? Either way… it sounds good. And if you have been following our newsletters, Autumn is the season I love to indulge in the most.
Well it’s here again… Autumn, Fall… whatever you want to call it… the beginning of the end. That season of mist and mellow fruitfulness, when fruit is full with ripeness to the core.
Autumn is now, summer is behind, and winter is ahead – a time to think. It is that very awareness of finality that I think makes us all stop consciously or unconsciously to consider our relevance to the world. It is as if by changing the seasons, Mother Nature holds up a mirror to make us look at ourselves to think about our own mortality.
Now I don’t want to get maudlin or overly sentimental, but I do believe that there is some psychological or perhaps physiological change in all of us at this time of year. Maybe it is something like the expectation of winter – similar to the preparation for hibernation that bears have to go through – or may be it is the angle of the sun? There some of us who feel this effect so deeply that we become depressed to the point that we become SADD – and of course I am referring to Seasonal Affective Depressive Disorder. Nor do I want to get too nostalgic that feeling of yearning for the past when times and places were happier. You know the old saying of “Nostalgia ain’t what it used to be!”
Yes, at last it is fall. It seems that what was fall in October is now fall in November. Those blazing yellow leaves embellished with crispy orange corn flakes that smell as sweet as Malmsey Madeira have finally arrived. And yes, it seems that this year that autumnal glory has faded almost as quickly as it arrived fading into the forest dim of clouds and rain. Where are those gorgeous Indian Summers of yesteryear?
This is the season when the vines are going through involutional melancholia as they witness the losing of their leaves to from this:
If you have followed the newsletters this year, you know that 2018 has been a challenging year but it is years like this that make us appreciate the good years. I that know sounds a bit sappy but it is actually true.
Our fearless Field Marshall, Bill Tonkins, and his right hand man, Alvino, (the two of them are always outstanding in the field) have done a great job of bringing in the harvest in about half the usual time. The thing is: the rain, in addition to obscuring the sun and slowing down our ripening time, also leads to all sorts of fungal infections like sour rot. So rather than let our precious fruit rot, we pick the it a little bit early – this year in half the time. We will be doing a few sprays post-harvest to prep the vines for winter, then it is off to winterizing the equipment before the crew start pruning for the next circle of life.
At the end of it all we brought in a total of 240 tons, which is roughly down by 30%, from our record in 2016 of 360 tons. We finished harvest by the first week of October, which is almost four weeks earlier than we usually do.
Our cellar team did a great job to make the best of what was essentially a wet harvest, or as we euphemistically a “challenging” harvest. This is the time that Emily and Elliott truly come into their own creating the team to work together despite the adverse conditions.
Our thanks go to our two harvest interns: William Koenig and Gwendolyn Miller who together worked like troopers to sort the good from the bad fruit. Given the aforementioned “challenging harvest,” Will and Gwen kept smiling for which we will be forever grateful. And then there is Lucas who continues to be equally hardworking. He is now in his fourth year with us, and we are so grateful that he is a great role model for our interns.
As I mentioned above, when life gives you lemons you make sparkling wine or you make Rose. So I thought I would delve a bit into how we make our Rose. Actually the Thinking Pink movement has lasted remarkably well at least for the last ten years. In France, the only two commodities that continue to gain both in volume and in value are Champagne and Rose!
In Virginia as a whole and at Veritas in particular, there is little doubt that the demand and the sales of Rose have been on a steady upward trend. Rose is perhaps the Cinderella of all our wines, at no point have I ever given it more than just a passing mention of Rose. There was a time when doing a tasting I would hear customers say condescendingly, “I’ll pass on the Rose” as in, “don’t even bother to pour me that garbage!”
Times have changed, and despite increasing our production we sell out every year with our distributor howling for more. If I had to guess, the current popularity is probably related to the time when most peoples’ first experience of wine was either Mateus Rose or Lancers – I am talking here of my generation, the baby boomers. Ah those were the days when with Mateus Rose we might order a bottle on Blue Nun!
Were the good old days really good days or am I becoming nostalgic again?
Well Mateus and Lancers came from Portugal and became so over commercialized like Blue Nun that no one would drink the stuff. It has probably taken a whole generation for the memories of those wines (and their respective hangovers) to eventually fade and now Rose is bouncing back as a millennial favorite.
There are few extra twists when it comes to making Rose. Now you all know that the pulp of a red grape is colorless and that the color of red wine comes from the pigment in the grape skins. The color only gets into the wine when the grapes are allowed to “sit on the skins” i.e. the skins stay in contact with the juice. This happens pretty quickly within four to six hours. The color of the Rose will depend on how long the skins are allowed to sit in contact with the juice; typically we allow 12 -24 hours before we take off the juice to make the Rose. We are in effect bleeding the color from what is to be red wine a traditional process the French call the saignee method, and as with everything French enforced by law.
In less scrupulous regions of the world like the USA, pink wine can be made by simply adding red wine to white wine. This is also known as a “Blush” as in White Zinfandel. Provence is the traditional home of dry Rose in France where Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre are the staple ingredient grapes. Saumur a region in the Loire Valley comes a close second in pink production both still and sparkling – it is where the original Mousseux that we named our pink bubbly is made using grapes we have in common Cabernet Franc and Merlot. In France, much of the drive in the consumption of Rose has come from the tourist industry. You can imagine everyone having a ball on vacation in St Tropez – the Rose flowing like the laughter. The very ambiance in which the wine is drunk is a guarantee of future sales. You only have to look at bottle shapes to realize how much marketing has catalyzed the Rose trend.
Probably the reason our Rose sells so fast is the great ambiance at Veritas… or could it be that the wine is just that good.
You know how I like to recognize individuals who work diligently at Veritas and do not get all the appreciation they deserve. Well, in this season’s newsletter I want to recognize three of our staff who work in our upstairs administrative offices – hence why we call them “Upper Management.” Kayla has been with us four years this December and is way overdue for recognition. She has nurtured the Wine Club for most of her time with us and has done a fantastic job with almost 3,500 customers to look after. She and her husband, Bobby, are Mom and Dad to their two nephews with Kayla expecting a daughter, Austyn Harper, in April 2019.
Tara joined the team in May of 2017, and like Kayla and Shannon, lives in Waynesboro where she moved to bring up her two children from the corporate world in DC. Tara has a bachelor’s in business administration from William and Mary. She works closely with Shannon keeps our books in pristine condition as well as specializing in payroll. Shannon is the newbie and like Kayla and Tara is native to Virginia and lives in Waynesboro with her husband Corey and their two children. She has a Bachelors degree in accounting and an associates in Business from Liberty University. We are truly thankful to have such a great business team.
Supper series and New Year’s Masked ball
We celebrated the end of harvest with a super-duper, grand, five-course, wine-paired dinner as part of our on-going Supper Series. Chef Joel and I worked together to perfect the food and wine pairings and though I say it myself and for the other fifty-seven guests, it was about as good as it gets:
I’m posting the menu so that the next time Supper Series rolls around you will know what to expect. Everyone had a ball. Speaking of Balls… the Veritas New Years’ Masked Ball will be here before you know it. If you have ever been then you know that you really do not want to miss it. Reservations are going fast in so make yours now!
All is well in the family. Our only real news is that our youngest daughter Chloe (of Santosha fame) and her husband Elliott are having another baby, and from what the tea leaves are telling us (read: ultrasound), we have another grand daughter on the way in the Spring.
Here’s number one – Isla– now almost 2 years old:
The four grand daughters who have grown up as the main feature of all the newsletters also celebrated Halloween as usual this year. I don’t know if their costumes portend the future but Lydia dressed up as a Progressive Insurance agent matched by Hailey who went for the more traditional State Farm Insurance agent. Charlotte as you can see was a Voodoo doll and Mimi a deer.
Well folks, you have wasted a perfectly good time reading this newsletter, and what I hope you can see is that all of us here at Veritas really cannot believe our luck. In this season of gratitude, we are ever more thankful for the abundance of love and joy that we have, and we all need to think how we can share our bounty with others who are not so lucky as us.
From all of us at Veritas, have a family filled Thanksgiving,
Patriarch and Raconteur.