Snowmageddon – Snowzilla – or the 2016 Veritas Winter Newsletter
Snow is friendly; it’s one of the “favorite things” from The Sound of Music.
–Snowflakes that stay on your nose and eyelashes
with silver white winters that melt into springs.
If nothing else, the kids had fun with no school for almost a whole week, which meant snowballs and snowmen followed by hot chocolate and snuggling up by the crackling, cozy fire. The snow came and went with no disasters, just good old winter fun.
Just like the kids, the vines love snow. It is actually quite comforting for vines; perhaps that’s where we get the expression ‘wrapped up in a blanket of snow.’ Snow almost feels embracing, you know – wolves and sled dogs bury themselves in snow to keep warm at night.
Snow is protective and also nurturing. According to folklore, snow actually adds small amounts of nitrogen to the soil, hence the expression ‘snow is the poor farmer’s fertilizer.’ It is true, but the amount of nitrogen is about 3-5 pounds per acre which if you are a serious farmer is not enough to matter. Interestingly, the amount of nitrogen in rainwater and snow has gone up since the atmosphere has become more polluted.
The winter thus far is off to a good start!
What news? Veritas Vintner’s Reserve 2013 won a Gold in the Virginia Governor’s Cup. We have had 7 “winter” lambs already this year (more on that later). As a result of the 2015 harvest, we are bottling almost 3,000 cases of Viognier compared with 850 last year!
Pruning started on time this year, January 22nd, which was St. Vincent’s Day (St. Vincent is the patron saint of wine growers). I really don’t know if this is true, but someone told me it was derived from Vin Sang – wine being the symbolic representation of the blood of Christ. The vines are typically hunkered down this time of year, wrapped at least for a while in their blanket of snow, reveling in their extra dose of nitrogen. We are getting ready to plant part of Bold Mountain. The soil has been ripped down to two feet using a J2 bulldozer in preparation for spring planting.
All is well in the cellar. Emily, Elliott, Paul and Jolie are working with our biggest harvest ever, taking our production for the first time to almost 20,000 cases of wine. Emily and the team have already bottled 1,700 cases of Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier is next.
We have gone back to competing in wine competitions other than local ones like the Monticello Cup and the Virginia Governor’s Cup. This year we won a gold medal with our 2013 Petit Verdot in the San Francisco International Wine Competition. And speaking of international matters, our Petit Verdot that so far has won gold and best of Category in the Atlantic Seaboard Wine Competition and a gold in San Francisco, has been chosen as one of the wines for Berry Brothers and Rudd’s private wine club selection in the United Kingdom. Now that might not mean a lot to most of the people in our wine club, but Berry Brothers and Rudd were distributing wine when Charles Dickens was writing A Christmas Carol and believe me, I have been to their main shop in St James’ Palace in London. I was expecting to see Bob Cratchet with a quill and ledger behind the counter, but instead there was a very pretty MW (Master of Wine) managing the till.
We have had a change of guard in the kitchen. Joel Walding, who previously starred as Chef de Cuisine at The Farmhouse from 2012-2014, has returned to Veritas as Executive Chef. A little background: Joel was born in Lafayette, Louisiana and grew up in Nova Scotia, Canada. Cooking was a daily ritual for his family, which ignited his interest in food. Joel took his first job at the age of fourteen working for his oldest brother in fine dining along the shores of the Mahone Bay. As he worked through the ranks of the service industry, his passion for the culinary arts deepened. Joel obtained his culinary degree from the International Culinary Academy in Houston, Texas, where he refined his technical skills and was inspired by rich, Southern flavors. He moved to Virginia in 2008 to be closer to family. He was the Executive Chef at Harvest Moon Catering from 2008-2012 before joining the Veritas family. He lives at Lake Monticello with his wife Kelly and daughter Savannah.
We are so happy for his return, and joining him is Emily Proutt as Sous Chef. Our culinary future is looking pretty darn hootin-tootin, son-of-a-gun good.
Courtney and Grace (Grace was our featured employee of the month in the summer newsletter) have taken over weddings and events, which are booking up like mad. Speaking of employees of the month, the honor this season goes to Andrew Shipman, our down-to-your-boots and roots home-grown and proud-of-it Chef at The Farmhouse. Known to his friends as “Andy,” Mr. Shipman has excelled in his role at The Farmhouse. He is a true locavore and has succeeded in putting The Farmhouse on the map for five-star fine dining. Andy was the valedictorian of his high school class and since working with us he has married his lovely wife Lisa and is the proud father of his son Charles. We owe him a debt of gratitude for stepping up during the holiday season and maintaining the standards that we hold so dear.
More on the Sheep
The gestation period (pregnancy) of most sheep is 147 days with a range of 135- 159, so that means our winter lambs were conceived in September! This means that the male lambs born in the spring of 2015 were able to sire the lambs in September of 2015, resulting in our present crop of “winter “ lambs, which only goes to show that boys will be boys.
The Masked Ball
Valentine’s Day Winemaker’s Dinner
Breaking News- Parker Exports Wine to U.K.!
At a seminal event in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in New York, The Wine Advocate along with American Express produced a wine tasting entitled “A Matter Of Taste,” that allowed participants to taste iconic wines like Chateau Pontet- Canet (Pauillac), Chateau Haut- Bailly (Pessac- Leognan), Pingus (Ribero Del Duero), Hugel (Alsace), along with the owners and winemakers. Altogether there were 150 wines all with a Parker score of 90+. Chris Parker (no relation to Robert), who exports Veritas wines to the UK, and I were seen discussing matters with THE Robert Parker who signed off on Veritas.
The grandchildren are growing like weeds.
New Website Debuts
Our newly updated, correlated, PG-rated, variegated, highly cultivated, and infinitely motivated website has launched! Check it out and let us know what you think.
And as they say at the end of Looney tunes –“That’s it folks!” Thank you for tuning in to the Veritas newsletter.
From all of us here at Veritas: See you in the spring, and can you believe it? Happy Easter!