You cannot ignore the bounty of spring, every year I marvel at seeing those tiny buds break out into beautiful leaves that carry the fruit, each bud with its unique identity.
Just looking at how nature repeats itself, every year is a miracle. It is truly awe inspiring and that repetition is our life blood, those tiny buds pay the mortgage, keep people employed, and yes pay the taxes.
In the same way as the plants renew life in spring so we witness the miraculous birth of our lambs that as they gambol in the fields they exhort the instincts of new life.
Spring is the most critical time in the life cycle of the vine with three of life’s five events, bud break, flowering and fruit set, all occurring in the space of a few weeks.
April 15th as sure as death and taxes those buds break blessing us with their presence. The buds break and the flowers flower and before we know it we have fruit set.
Bud break occurred early this year sparking fears of frost damage, but this year the gods smiled on us and despite a few chills we escaped without significant damage.
The grapes we grow that make the most popular wines are called vitis vinifera most of which originated in Europe. What is unique about vitis vinifera is that they are hermaphroditic which means the flowers have both male (pollen producing) and female (ovary) parts, so vinifera are self-pollinating.
Vine “flowers” are not like typical flowers. In fact you would be hard pushed to even call them “flowers.” There are no actual petals, instead there is a green cap called a calyptra. The calyptra falls off to reveal the reproductive elements of the flower, the ovary and the anthers. It is the anthers that give the impression of an actual flower that produces pollen that fertilizes the eggs inside the ovary that becomes the fruiting berry.
It is humbling to realize that the reason the berry has those wonderful flavors and aromas is to attract everything from birds, racoons, bears and deer to propagate the seeds, instead we humans use the grapes to make wine.
You only have to see the vines to realize the explosion of plant growth with each vine sending out tendrils to support the incredible area of leaf growth needed to ripen the fruit.
I always have to remind myself that it is the leaves that are the powerhouses of the vines.
Here’s another fascinating factoid, chlorophyll, the green pigment of the plant world, and hemoglobin, the red pigment of the animal world, share an almost identical chemical structure almost identical chemical structure called a pyrrole ring except for one thing.
Chlorophyll has magnesium in the center of the pyrrole ring and if you substitute iron for magnesium with that pyrrole you get hemoglobin! Another astounding example of the mysteries of Mother Nature.
To get back the everyday stuff, Uncle Bill, our Field Marshall, is not only in charge of the vineyard and the vine brigade but also feeding the sheep, the donkeys, and the dogs. He loves it all and it shows in how well he cares for plants and animals alike.
Emily and Elliott and our amazing cellar crew are crushing it in the cellar (pun intended.) Recently we won a gold medal in the Monticello Cup with our Veritas Reserve 2021 and our 2015 vintage Scintilla scored a whopping 94 points in a Decanter article entitled “America’s Sparkling Future.” Our 2015 Scintilla is up there with the likes of Roderer, Schramsburg, and Carneros – one of the ways of judging the quality of a wine is by the company it keeps.
Our next supper series gourmet delight will be June 23rd this time featuring Nate Sloan of Roanoke’s Bloom Restaurant & Wine Bar. The joy of our Supper Series is to let you try a new way of enjoying the old art of matching spectacular food with spectacular wine. Make a reservation for dinner HERE.
After a break of three years, by public demand we have brought Starry Nights back to life, kicked off on June 10th with Apple Butter Soul playing a splendid mix of jazz, soul R&B and Motown. The weather was perfect, the food was delicious paired with spectacular wine, everything combined to make Starry Nights what Starry Nights is. Join us in July and August for the next two evenings under the stars!
Andy Shipman (pictured right), our Executive Chef oversees pretty much everything that is cooked at Veritas and the The Farmhouse. Andy is a keeper. He has been with us on and off over the last ten years. You could say Andy is a self-made man in that he has got where he is by virtue of own calling. Having received no formal training he has forged his career by using his own inherent talent to the benefit of all of us at Veritas. On the way, he was sous chef at The Farmhouse and was appointed Executive Chef at Veritas in 2022. He is an extraordinary chef specializing in the natural elements in cooking as well as every and any thing that ferments.
Adam Bean (pictured left) has been with us for the last two years so I feel confident in introducing him as one of the Veritas family. Classically trained in French technique from The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. Adam’s career began and grew in some of the highest acclaimed, fine dining restaurants in Denver, New Orleans, and New York. His passion for cooking has taken him all around the United States and throughout Italy. He met the love of his life, a Lynchburg native, while both living in New Orleans, and they made the move east three years ago. His time now is spent between the wedding and event catering for Veritas Winery in Afton, and enjoying every minute with their 14 month old daughter.
Adam and Andy have made a really first class team setting the highest standards of cuisine for our weddings, Supper Series, New Year’s Ball , Valentine’s dinner, Starry Nights, and you name it, they cook it.
For the fist time ever, we were all able to get away for the best family holiday EVER.
Lydia is our first granddaughter to graduate high school with Honors and a full scholarship to Boston University starting this August. Lydia will be our first grandchild to leave the family nest.
Hailey is close behind looking to go to college in 2024. She finished up her Junior year track season winning a third consecutive state title in the 4 X 800 meters and is continuing onto the New Balance Nationals at UPenn on June 18th.
Mimi just moved up from middle to high school winning the school Citizenship award on the way.
Charlotte has also been bitten by the rowing bug. Here she is with Lydia, both winning bronze medals in different boats at the State Championships.
The not so weenies with little lambs.
Thank you for reading the newsletter and as you have read there is no real news, the newsletter is more of, “where we are now” commentary than anything else. I am always pleased when people tell me how much they love my newsletters but I could probably publish the spring newsletter from 2017 and apart from pictures of the kids the content would be pretty much the same. To make it interesting I like to put in some snippets of knowledge about the vines or wine making.
I think the real draw is about the family and the people we work with and how we all deal with the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. And every time I reflect on the state of our business I am left with a huge sense of gratitude for what we have and a sense of sorrow for the countless people who through no fault of their own suffer the outrages of an unspeakable and needless war.
Have a wonderful July 4th to celebrate this great nation.
Raconteur and Dilettante