Andrew Hodson’s Newsletter
This season of mellow fruitfulness seems like and is like no other, as you may well say is true of everything about 2020.
Autumn is always my most favorite season of the year. The time when autumn leaves start to fall almost as declarative of a change in season as spring is when we emerge from winter slumbers. In spring there is a rush of new life, of hope, of optimism. In autumn the opposite is true, autumn is filled with the prospect not of life – but of the opposite; just as spring is hope, autumn is regret. In spring we prepare for life and in the autumn we prepare for death, on the one hand sanguine on the other melancholy…but this autumn has a unique melancholy, I have never had such a foreboding for the coming winter as in the year of 2020.
We have become numb to the daily tally of deaths by the sheer weight of those numbers, a 911, or a Pearl Harbor happening every day!
My second cause to pause looking back on this autumn is the assault truth.
Veritas is the latin for truth. Veritas is the word Patricia and I stumbled upon back in 1999. Partly due the fact that the now deceased John Baker from whom we bought the property was a Harvard graduate exposing us to the Harvard motto “In Christo Veritas” and partly due to the fact that we always told our kids to tell the truth – echoing the words of the doddery old Polonius from Shakespear’s Hamlet.
Truth has always been to us a word to live by, a word that evokes goodness, and above all morality that gives us trust in our fellow human beings.
And as Pliny the Elder said in one his thirty seven volumes of Natural History “as the saying goes in vino veritas.”
The Actual News-
There is good news and as always there is bad news,
Good news – we are still in business.
Bad news – the crop was down by 60%.
Good news -internet sales this year are as good as tasting room sales were last year.
We are ramping up e-commerce along with the rest of the world as people become more comfortable ordering and receiving wine online.
In the Vineyard –
One of the most significant things we have learned this year is the importance of elevation.
Bill Tonkins, our vineyard manager has clearly shown us that the lower vineyard at 800 feet elevation was laid waste, whereas the vines at 1000- 1200 feet were spared. At our end of season wrap up we were able to confirm all predictions about crop loss and we are now looking at planting as much vineyard as is available in our upper reaches.
In the Cellar –
Yeast fermentations are finished and most of the red wines are now going through malo-lactic fermentation before they settle down for long time barrel aging. Emily and the crew are preparing to bottle our best wines from 2019, our Reserve Red and Petit Verdot in early 2021.
Now there is such a thing as a spoilage yeast that goes by the name of Brettanomyces commonly referred to as Brett. (regular happy yeasts are called Saccharomyces). Brett in a wine in the US is considered a flaw or defect, not so in Europe where many wines are appreciated because of the very presence of Brett, for example Chateau Beaucastel from France and particularly Chateau Musar from Lebanon.
Brett gives wine a combination of at least one or maybe three of the following principal characteristics, leather, barnyard, or band aid characters that depending on your cultural background are either good or bad. Brett is also known to affect beer as well as wine and just as in wine beer consumers either love it or hate it. There is even a flavor wheel for Brett and as you can see most of the aromas and flavors you would rather do without.
So when we bottled our gorgeous Petit Verdot back in 2008 we were able to detect a slight whiff of Brett enough to add complexity but not enough to spoil the wine so we went ahead and bottled the wine without sterile filtering.
Well to make a long story short the Brett carried on growing in the bottle so what was a whiff at bottling was rank one year later. The irony here is we took this wine to London two years later with Emily almost apologizing for the wine and Hugh Johnson a world known wine critic chose Veritas Petit Verdot over the other Virginia Petit Verdots because it had the most complexity! After that we sterile filtered all our wines not because of the increased complexity but because in the US most people consider Brett in their wine unacceptable.
Winter Plans to beat the Virus.
As anyone who has visited Veritas knows, safety from Covid is our absolute primary concern. We are following CDC recommendations to the letter.
We expect everyone to wear a mask whenever they move in and around the winer. The masks can be removed when you have sat down and established your boundaries.
We have eliminated face to face tasting by instituting “taste in place.” Rather than us pouring you the wine to taste we give your four wines in sealed bottles and a glass so you can pour your own wine. With the rack of four wines you are given a glass and a sheet on which there is a QR code. Using your cell phone with the QR code enables you access your very own private tasting with our winemaker Emily Hodson who describes everything that you would want to know and probably about each of the wines in the flight.
And if you want, you can order without touching everything else we have to offer in the same way by using your cell phone and a QR code that we give you on arrival.
As far as social distancing is concerned, we have that down pat in all the outside and indoor areas.
As winter draws near we are erecting nine outside “igloos” to protect you from the elements.
These will be available by reservation as will be clearly described on our website. If you still feel cool (pun intended) sitting outside, each pod is equipped with a propane driven smoke free fire pit that helps keep out the cold.
Obviously, when winter really bites, we will all have to come inside. To facilitate that, we plan to have designated seating areas in the ballroom that are only available by reservation.
phase ii restaurant introduced a special Sunday Brunch menu. The food is special and you can pair everything from savory to sweet with our bounteous Mimosas.
If you haven’t tasted the beignets you really should.
The threat of Covid for our family and most of the families we know has actually brought us closer together and has made us count our blessings everyday.
Here are my six granddaughters just after Thanksgiving.
And then of course there are the weeinies, they always get special attention.
And then again I like to look back down Memory Lane …
Sometimes I see something quite simple in nature that brings out a truth in our lives of the inherent human dilemma.
”Why can’t we all just get along.”
In these incredibly sad days it is hard to be optimistic, but optimistic we must be.
That’s all the news from Veritas where we all wear masks and there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
Please have as Merry Christmas as you can, and do your very best to make those around you safe.
Blessings and Peace to all.