“But I miss you most of all my darling
When Autumn leaves start to fall.”
There is finality to Autumn; the leaves are falling and at last the earth has given up the swollen gourds and dripping cider and now the barren stubble is left to the twittering of swallows as they prepare to migrate.
But it is OK – the reassurance is that we as humans are merely a miniscule part of that inexorable life cycle of nature that is a part of the universe of life, as we know it. As you all know I love to wax prolific about this time of year when we have the satisfaction of reaping the grape harvest, the reward of the year’s work.
This year we had a favorable spring with good fruit set followed by a summer that was fairly unremarkable except for the fact that we really had no bad weather. We had roughly 2,500 growing degree-days within our usual range. So what is a growing degree day? Vines will only grow when the temperature is above 10 degrees Centigrade (base temp.) so we calculate growing degree days (GDD) by working out the average temperature during the day – viz. T min. plus the highest temperature during the day T max, dividing by two and subtracting the base temperature: for example if the high for the day is 23 C and the low is 12C: 23+12/2 =17.5- 10 = 7.5 GDDs. Growing degree days are different for different plants for example corn requires more GDDs to fully ripen than grapes. The number varies of course, for different types of grapes typically – as you would expect red grapes require more than white grapes. This year we had more growing degree days than last year.
There were no hurricanes and no infestations of locusts and their likes – so it was more the lack of negatives rather than the overwhelming number of positives in the growing conditions for 2014.
A number of pundits have heralded 2014 as a great harvest year for Virginia but the proof of the pudding will be in the eating. It is really too early to say, but we can be cautiously optimistic – the glass is always half- full as far as the optimist is concerned, half empty as the pessimist and for the engineer, the glass was not designed correctly.
We owe a debt of gratitude to our vineyard workers who every year work so hard in bringing in the harvest.
Red and white wines did equally well, more in quality rather than quantity as our yield was pretty much the same as last year but the fruit was riper. The Viognier is very promising and it is hard to believe that we are getting the Sauvignon ready for bottling in a couple of weeks – there is that life cycle again. 2013 VR and Petit Verdot will be bottled in early January.
Our cellar crew delivered as they always do with Paul Shaffer completing yet another harvest. He said his last was 2013! Paul volunteers himself selflessly, making sure that everything runs at just the right pace.
Paul was aided and abetted by Elliott, Britain’s answer to Moet Chandon. We thank Brycen, our harvest intern, who is making his career somewhere in the wine industry – in which there are so many opportunities in so many parts of the world that it makes me wish I was young again – Hang on! Well perhaps not.
Yes folks, we completed the NINTH Opportunity Ball on October 24th and as I remember Tommy Stafford of Blue Ridge Life made the comment next to a picture of me saying –“Why is this guy having a Ball?” So you could ask why are we all having a Ball? The answer of course is “to Care and Share” and in so doing everyone had a Ball. Our thanks go out to everyone who gave so generously at the Ball and particularly the chairwoman of the Ball Ika Joiner and her right hand woman Diane Tonkins.
We had awards for the best costume and there were some pretty fancy birds – but American Gothic is my pick!
With the impending slow down our Kitchen is down – regulating for winter and Jill and Jill’s intern for the year Hattie are happy to complete the 2014 wedding calendar.
Not much family news. Our grand girls continue to grow like vines reaching for the sun and just like vines they like to be stressed.
See Goose the black labrador grow!
Paul Shaffer, who by now is part of the family (you know, the guy on the Petit Verdot bottle), celebrated his 57th birthday (anyway that’s what he told us) with the cellar crew at the Farmhouse.
The Masked Ball
Don’t forget the next event at Veritas is the Masked Ball – the tickets are going fast!
Wines for Thanksgiving
There really is not any one wine that is a stand out to go with the turkey. Turkey for the most part is fairly bland, there just is not that much flavor in the meat, so typically a white wine would be best to bring out the subtle flavors of the meat. You don’t want anything too aromatic, so in the Veritas line up Harlequin Reserve Chardonnay would be the pick. However because of all the ‘fixins’ – cranberries and marshmallows, an off-dry wine like White Star would do if you have the slightest of a sweet tooth. Quite a few foodies recommend a Riesling or a Gewürztraminer on the same logic of providing an off-dry wine. For those amongst us who crave a red wine, a light to medium-bodied red such as a Cabernet Franc or a Pinot Noir is the choice – of course there is no Veritas Pinot but Ankida Ridge just down the road from us would fit the bill. If you want to go outside of Virginia for your wine, Chianti or Beaujolais would also work. Try and stay away from boxed wine.
Well folks, that’s all the news from the Veritas family, where all the men are manly and all the women are womanly and all the kids have iPads. Be thankful for so much of what we have – we are the lucky ones.