Winter/Spring Newsletter 2019

As you know, I always like to start my newsletters with something poetic: the Bard or Keats or something of that ilk. This morning, I wanted to find a poem about winter and all I could remember were bits and pieces of a poem I vaguely recollected in which a recurring line was, “and greasy Joan doth keel the pot.” So dutifully I Googled it (realize that “Google” is used nowadays as a noun, verb and adjective) and sure enough, up it came: Shakespeare

Act V Scene 2 of Love’s Labor’s Lost. The first stanza starts. “When icicles hang by the wall” and finishes with, “and greasy Joan doth keel the pot.” The second stanza reproduced here with permission from the Bard goes:

Aloud the wind doth blow,

And coughing drowns the parson’s saw,

And birds sit brooding in the snow,

And Marian’s nose looks red and raw,

When roasted crabs hiss in the bowl,

The nighly sings the staring owl,


To-whit, to-whoo, a merry note,

While greasy Joan doth keel the pot.

It is a lovely poem and portrays all the elements of what I used to perceive as a winter scenario.

Now remember, I was brought up in the UK – a country that was considered too far north to grow and especially ripen grapes – and of course Shakespeare was referring to winter as it exists in northern Europe. The northern limit of grape production in Germany, France including Champagne and the UK is between the 49th and 50th parallel Champagne is actually 49.5 degrees north and the UK is just a bit north of that. Virginia is 11 degrees further south at the 38th parallel so relative to Europe we are on the same plane as places like Lisbon and northern Sicily, which is a fact that I don’t think many people realize. Vines grow best when the temperature is between 10- 20 degrees Celsius (50-70 F). That corresponds to latitudes 30-50 degrees both north and south.

With the world focused on climate change as a universal issue, agriculture in general and viticulture (growing grapes) specifically are completely sensitive to the slightest change in climate conditions. Countries in both the northern and southern hemisphere are reporting the same ever-increasingly early harvests, increases in weather extremes (hail and storm damage) not to mention wildfires. But I have to keep reminding myself, like Eric Idle in the Life of Brian when he is being crucified sings, “always look on the bright side of life.” From our standpoint, this is our third non-winter in a row. We’ve had a couple of snow falls that have looked very pretty for 24 hours and then they were gone. The rest of the time the temperatures have been in the mid forties interspersed with rain.

What’s new? Veritas has entered in to its first joint venture, and we are excited to bringing out this new label! In this business model the grape growers are creating economies of scale without having to invest in bricks and mortar in the form of a winery production facility. The goal is to produce premium wines at lower costs!. It’s that simple! Check out more at


Bottling this year: As usual, Sauvignon Blanc is always first in the bottle. This is a wine to drink in spring, and I recommend to drinking it straight off the bottling line! Drink it for its youth or  what the French call “jeunesse.” With the world turning pink we are quick off the mark getting our almost-most popular dry Rose into the bottle. This is a beaut. I nearly wrote “trust me” but I never trust anyone who says trust me – except when it comes to Rose!

Rose 2019

Our strong suit this year is our Cabernet Franc 2016 – buy it now while supplies last! This Cab Franc has won a gold medal in San Francisco and gold medal in the Governor’s Cup! Our 2016 VR also got a gold in the Governor’s Cup. Petit Verdot usually our strongest suit is a beautiful wine but needs more time to show well.

In the Veritas Kitchen

Our Cuisine team Joel, Ash, Brandyn and Dylan starred at New Years’ providing haute cuisine to almost 250 people, the food was as brilliant as ever.

We did not do a Valentine’s evening this year because the actual day of Valentine’s was a Thursday and nobody wants to go out on a Thursday night Valentine’s or not. Coming up on the gastronomic future calendar at Veritas is of course Easter and Mother’s Day, which will be here before we know it! I am working with Joel and the team on wine and food pairings for the events that never fail to fill (pun intended).

In the Farmhouse Kitchen


Andy Shipman and Coleman Showalter are rocking at the Farmhouse filling seats to capacity. This would be a good opportunity to tell you about Coleman who has been working with us for almost 3 years now. Coleman started working with us at the Terrace when we opened two years ago starting in the “dish-pit” and has worked his way up to Sous Chef at the Farmhouse. He got married last year after he got hit by lightning – a true tale! Chef Andy quickly appreciated Coleman’s most endearing quality: the fact that he is always keen to learn. As a team they are a now providing the very best in farm-to-table menus that wow all newcomers and regulars alike giving the Farmhouse a five star rating on Open Table. As they say in France, “pas mal”

Veritas Calendar

Easter is on Sunday April 21st this year so don your Easter bonnet and celebrate the holiday with a beautifully prepared meal matched with perfectly made wines.

Mother’s Day is May 12th. Did you know that more Mother’s Day cards are sold than at any other seasonal card in the entire year!?

The Starry Nights line up has just been posted, so mark your calendars!

Man of the season: Elliott Watkins.


I want to feature Elliott again because of his steadfastness and to emphasize the contribution he makes to our winemaking team. You probably remember how Elliott got to us in the first place: his family knew Patricia’s family and Elliott was studying Enology at Plumpton College in the UK, so we welcomed him to do an internship at Veritas as part of his college degree. Elliott completed his degree that included the WSET Advanced Certificate – Level 3. Chloe our youngest daughter and Elliott fell in love and to our huge delight got married having their first child, Isla 2 years ago with number 2 on the way. Notwithstanding Emily and Elliott have formed a very strong working relationship in which they are able to share the enormous responsibility of making our grapes into wine, each year adhering to highest standards for quality wine making. Elliott’s strength and support has at least in part enabled us to broaden our horizons in terms of staying on top of quality research and development in the wine industry.  The masterful teamwork between Elliott and Emily has not only kept the quality of our wines high, but has enabled them to work hard, and live a life with their respective families – and let’s be honest, that’s what it is all about!

The Family

The Grand Girls

Lydia and Hailey

Lydia and Hailey both spent a weekend at William and Mary where they worked on economic and sustainable strategies for different countries under the aegis of the United Nations –– Lydia represented Turkey and Hailey represented Mongolia. What a great way to invest in the future!

Whereas Amelia and Charlotte were more interested in UVA basketball.

Amelia and Charlotte with Cav Man
Left to Right: Lydia, Charlotte, Amelia, and Hailey


Simply put one picture is worth a thousand words.

Jenny Tonks is getting married!

Jenny Tonkins – Patricia’s younger brother Bob’s, daughter who spent two summers as our summer intern in 2009 and 2011. She is loved by everyone here at Veritas, and she is getting married on March 30th. Patricia and I are going to the wedding. Jenny brings back many fond memories of when we all worked together at harvest. Jenny and I loved to go to American Shakespeare to see just anything and everything they were playing.

So, there we are folks – all the news that’s fit to print from Veritas where kindness is the password.

From all the folks at Veritas, have a Wonderful (insert your favorite holiday) Easter,