I am a big fan of John Keats; it was he who wrote “To Autumn” not as many people think “The Ode to Autumn” and when it comes to Autumn I can never resist the opening lines of “Seasons of mist and mellow fruitfulness, Close bosomed friend of the maturing sun.” What is so meaningful, I have realized, is the sense of the inevitability of the seasonal nature of life that is so close to the wine grower’s heart. Keats manages to bring in with such poetic beauty the evanescent spring; the clamor of summer, then the quiet gratitude of autumn before the inevitability of winter; the death that comes with gentle acceptance and peace. I never tire of reading this piece of peacefulness as the fruit is gathered in and all is well.
I have to admit that with my summer newsletter, “the summer that never was,” I was ready to pack it all in but thanks to some quirk in climatological conditions the sun came out for most of September – just a bit late to ripen the whites but just in time to glorify the reds. What there was of the whites was good; there was just not enough fruit. Remember that “brush” we had with Jack Frost? Well, it turned out to be more of a swipe than a brush. It affected the flowering of the earlier breaking white varieties that were hit hard before the reds. So this year will be great for our red wines and just so-so for the whites which were about 30% reduced in volume.
We’ve have had lots of “stuff” going on at Veritas since my last letter of gloom. Things brightened up not only with the sunshine for the grapes but also for our last Starry Nights that lived up to its name. We could actually see the stars in September unlike the previous three events that were more “Cloudy Nights” or even “Rainy Nights.” At the Abbey Road event, it rained pretty much the whole evening on over three thousand people! But, that is all water under the bridge now.
The end of September was marked by the Virginia Wine Summit held in Richmond to herald the beginning of October which is officially “Virginia Wine Month.” This is an event in which the Virginia wineries toot their own horns by inviting an internationally recognized wine critic to come to Virginia and extoll the virtues of Virginia wine. Last year we managed to get Steven Spurrier, who in wine circles is seen as almost a superhero with his success in bringing the French in line with California. This year we had Oz Clark, again an Englishman who is probably more well known in the popular press as a wine entertainer and entertain us he did! You can imagined how chuffed we were when he decided to taste the wines from our area at Veritas after the Summit. Add to that, he stayed overnight at The Farmhouse at Veritas, having dinner with the family and our two favorite winemakers: Jake Busching and Matthieu Finot (Jake and Matthieu are the other two of the collaborative wine ’3′).
At the end of October we held the 8th annual Opportunity Ball, a fund/friend/fun-raiser that raises a ton of money for the Nelson County Community Fund. Lots of good people working very hard for the less fortunate of Nelson County. Believe it or not this was the first year that we actually got a picture of the committee as a group (not quite all the committee). Ed Stemmler would have been proud.
The Opportunity Ball is a real laugh – I mean just look at Todd Rath (Shrek)! There were so many really fabulous get ups – don’t tell me Halloween is for kids! Or perhaps that is the whole point, it gives us all a chance to be a kid again and that is not so bad and add to that having all this fun is also helping someone somewhere who just has not been so darn lucky as we all have been. Actually there are good studies to show that doing something to help someone on a daily basis is one of the ways to embrace “happiness”in your life. It certainly made Patricia and I happy to be able to use what we have created at Veritas to the benefit of Nelson County.
Autumn is that poignant time, when with the change of season there is that feeling of acceptance of all the frenetic work and worries that now dim in the prospect of the coming winter.
So it is with Patricia and I who, after forty one years of marriage, are able to accept that we have created something worthwhile in Veritas. That leads me to the perfect segue with the AP confirmed report that our youngest daughter Chloe has joined with the rest of the family and we can now truly say we are a family winery.
That’s it from the family at Veritas where all the women are good looking, all the men are strong and all the children above average.
Have a Happy Veritas filled Holiday and as Tiny Tim would say: “Happy Christmas to one and all!”
Andrew Hodson (Retired)