This spring newsletter may seem late but I’m sorry it is still spring until the first day of summer June 21st, so rather like my winter newsletter this is a retrospective look at the spring of 2020.
It is hard to imagine that so much has happened to so many people at a local, state wide, national and international level, if it was not real you would think it was fiction. I cannot think of any spring that matches 2020 from weather conditions to Covid-19. We have had to witness a virus that has taken well over 100,000 lives at the same time as shutting down millions of people’s livelihoods, brought to us in stark reality by the technological phenomenon of “Social Media.”
Then there were the worst two weather events we have experienced in two decades. We got panned, everything I spoke about in the winter newsletter materialized not once but twice. We lost two thirds of our crop, roughly 200 tons of fruit, with an average price of $2,000.00 per ton, you do the math. Add that to the Covid mess and the economic downturn and you can appreciate our feelings about the 2020 vision we had about 2020. Of course, it could have been worse and indeed it could have been. We as a family are healthy and like all challenges it is not the strong who survive it is the ones who can adapt and so we have. In the Vineyard -warning the following pictures may cause sensitive people to feel uncomfortable.
Quick primer on vine buds -the bud is that part of the vine that is the precursor to shoot growth.Typically in our region the shoot comes out of the bud on April 15th, this is the time of “bud break.” Each bud has three parts to it, what is the primary bud, a smaller secondary bud and an even smaller tertiary bud. Mother Nature put these secondary and tertiary buds in place to deal with exactly what happened to us this spring.
Bud break is when the primary shoot emerges and it was the primary shoots that were destroyed. The back-up is the secondary shoot and if that gets hit the last chance for the plant to survive is the tertiary bud – in this game three strikes and you are out.
This year because of the warm winter bud break occurred early rendering us more vulnerable to frost. However, because the shoots were two weeks ahead of time they were that more vulnerable when the frost hit, and hit it did. The first blow on April 18th hit us hard but the second hit on May 2nd was the final twist of the dagger, the already injured shoots were doubly injured.
In the Winery in response to close down and partial close down Survival is not about strength it is about adaptability
We were shut down from March 12th to April 16th in that time we developed curbside wine sales and set up take out farm to table meals from the Farmhouse. BTW our internet sales went through the roof, many thanks to our wonderful patrons and community.
With Phase One reopening we saw the opportunity to use our outdoor space to create “Pods” in which our customers are able to reserve a space with the mandated social distancing, a picnic table and a tent covering from which they can be served with zero contact zero risk, the ultimate concern being safety to our customers and our staff.
We’ve done all sorts of things to try and keep us afloat – virtual wine tastings with our winemaker Emily and her Dad (me), special offers of case discounts, we’ve done videos of wine pairings so that when you sit down to do a TIP -tasting in place you can click on a QR code and have Emily taste along with you as you enjoy your wine.
We have done videos of the wine pairings with the food we have been serving at the Farmhouse. Never before has social media played such a big part in our lives and all of a sudden, Zoom is allowing our kids to be educated and conferences to be held at the drop of a hat.
Continuing to adapt is just what we are planning on doing. As of this weekend June 12th we are trying a new concept, in light of “social distancing” and the Phase 2 requirements we are shifting our emphasis from wine, to food and wine. Make sense? When you consider, we have been providing high- class cuisine through our culinary team led by Executive Chef Joel Walding for years now. Just think of the meals he has provided from The Masked Ball to Mother’s Day Brunch not to mention our Supper Series, Starry Nights and Oh by the way – countless high -end weddings all here at Veritas. Combine that with the consistent high- quality wines across the board that Emily has perfected in the last 20 years and you have a Winner! We are calling the experience “Phase 2” (pun intended) a whole new dimension of experiencing how food is improved by wine and how wine is improved by food ,a magical relationship that opens up a whole new dynamic of Veritas enjoyment.
There is only one way to experience it and that is to experience it – so come along to Veritas and experience the wine and food experience.
Employee of the year so far…
George, our son and CEO of Veritas in his capacity as the president of the Virginia Wineries Association and of the Monticello Wine Trail, was appointed to the Governor’s Task Force to reopen business – in particular the wine business in Virginia, an honor he thoroughly deserves. George gets employee of the season award.
You have probably realized by now that there has been no Starry Nights announcements and as long as we are in Phase 2 of the lockdown it is more likely than not that will hold for June and July – We are working on rescheduling based on emerging guidelines. That’s the unfortunate position we are all in -”It all depends”
I like to think that with Covid-19 we have come closer together as a family the grand girls are getting grander by the year – Lydia, Emily’s eldest daughter continues to excel at crew as does Hailey George and Tralyn’s daughter excels at track. Charlotte and Amelia are growing up beautifully and of course Chloe’s youngest two Isla and Elsie are spoiled by their elder cousins.
They all got together on Memorial Day weekend for a ride on Ashton Bebe’s horses for a ride around our home territory.
It is hard to think what the rest of 2020 holds in store for us but if it is anything like the first half it is going to be a bumpy ride. To end on a note of optimism from Christine Vrooman.
From all of us at Veritas -hang in there.
Happy July 4th and see you in the fall (fingers crossed)
Optimist and raconteur
Your optimism is refreshing.
Thanks for your reply , for me optimism is the only choice.
Dear Mr. Hodson,
Thank you for heart grabbing letter ! Our family had to cancel our yearly trip to the Outer Banks this year. This is the time we would stop and visit Veritas and enjoy some fine wine on site. I just received my quarterly wine order. I will keep the family and the vineyards in my prayers. Please continue my auto wine mailings if and when able, along with your enjoyable updates. When we are able to find a rental for our family group, rest assured we will stop for some food and drink. Good luck and God Bless !
Thanks for your reply Judy – we look forward to seeing you as soon as you can.
Thank you for a fabulous luncheon dining experience on your shaded porch overlooking a beautiful vineyard and mountain view. The crab appetizer was so tasty and delicious paired with your wine. My shrimp dish was perfect with a nice contrast between the chilled cucumber/ apple and the kale/quinoa combos. My husband enjoyed the mushroom ravioli. Loved our perfect afternoon at Veritas. The Caseys
It was great seeing you both and especially because you enjoyed the wine the food and the ambience.
Great letter, great metaphor for life…”it is not the strong who survive; it is those who can adapt.” We can live without grapes , but we can’t live without each other. May you all be blessed with increasing closeness of your family.
We look forward to seeing you and Mary as soon as you can get out of that kayak!
Love to you and the family,
Beautiful newsletter. So grateful to have you, your family and the vineyard in our community. Take care of yourselves, stay safe and stay with us
Thank you for you comment Lynn.
I visited your winery several years ago when my husband and I were nearby training donkeys! Loved your wine, which even impressed our Sonoma County snob neighbors! I just want you to know how I felt your heart and honesty in what you wrote. Good luck; I will make an effort to mail order!
Thank you K’lyn,
I was pleased to hear that your friends were impressed – Sonoma is my favorite CA location and tough competition for Virginia.
Hope to see you back soon.
Andrew and Patricia, so good to hear that you’re avoiding Covid and all that goes with it. Being in Jacksonville now we get to evacuate in August. All is going well hope the family is good and the wine recovers! Cheers! Bert
Thanks for your kind wishes – I hope you and your family are well.
Nice website article about how Veritas is doing. Would love to come for wine and dinner one night. I was wondering if you still offer horseback riding at your winery?
Hello Laura, We would love to see you, we are still doing the horse rides with Ashton Bebe- best way to book is through the Farmhouse- http://www.veritasfarmhouse.com
The Leslie Dwight poem that you ended your Comments on is a thoughtful and inspiring statement on these times. Thanks for sending it out into the world.
Great to hear from you last time we saw each other was at the gym – the poem was perfect is perfect for all the craziness we are facing at the moment.
This was a very encouraging, uplifting newsletter. It shows us how sticking together and being creative makes us stronger. looking forward to spending some time in a POD in October when we come for our annual trip to Virginia Wine Country. Best wishes to all of you.
Thank you so much for keeping us informed on all that is going on at Veritas in 2020. We were so sorry to hear about how the unexpected spring weather had affected the vines. My husband and I have missed our visits and wine tasting at Veritas in the last months, but we were so thankful that we were able to come and pick up our wine club wine during Covid. You and your employees were so organized and so helpful. Stay safe and we
hope the latter part of 2020 will be a more positive time for Veritas.
We are so happy you created the vineyard pods, the view and relaxation at Veritas were just what we needed to celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary! After finishing up a school year teaching our 5 and 8 year olds, my husband working from home, and myself working as a nurse at the hospital, it has been challenging. Our first outing was there to celebrate, and we had such a great lunch! Keep adapting, we appreciate it!!
Thank you for your comments – we look forward to seeing you – let us know when you come and we stop by and say Hello.
Well said! We just returned from a short stint at the Vineyard. Introduced some friends to one of our very favorite places ( they were celebrating their 40th anniversary). As expected, they ❤️ it as much as we do. In spite of what is happening in the environment today, everything was great (as usual).