Summer 2020 Retrospective
It’s the autumn equinox time to think back on the summer of 2020.
Remember at the beginning of 2020 we came out with quips like I hope the year 2020 will bring us 2020 vision, a clear insight into what lies ahead.
Well we all know that what we have seen thus far has been as unforeseeable as any year could possibly get.
I bet the word “unprecedented” is one of the most used words looked up on Merriam Webster we are living in unprecedented times.
For example we have never had a summer like this just as I wrote in my spring retrospective we had never had a spring like that.
Sure the vines have grown as usual and night follows day but that is about all that has been business as usual.
I am not going to bemoan the weather except to mention that we had the wettest August in living memory, normally 2-3 inches of rain in August, this year 12 inches of rain- unprecedented!
Despite the constant awareness of our current plight from climate change, the Covid pandemic, financial and racial inequity, I am determined to be upbeat, to be the eternal optimist following that line from Monty Python “Always look on the Bright Side of Life.”
Harvest started August 7th when we typically bring in the Chardonnay for sparkling wine. The vines for the white grapes were disproportionately hit by the frost because they are the ones that are first to break bud, so our production for 2020 is down by around 85%. This time of year the vines start to senesce giving up their fruit as the prelude to autumn. There is very little to be done in the vineyard other than clear up from harvest and bring in the bird netting.
What has been good?
Well for one, we are still in business, with new beginnings.
phase ii started as a “Pop Up,” the idea was to help us through the drought in wine sales initiated by Phase1. A temporary adaptation because we were sure that we would be back to normal by now.
It was more of an idea that has proved itself by flourishing – the proof of the pudding is in the eating of it. Having “popped up” it looks like it is here to stay, we’ve gone from wine tasting in the tasting room to food and wine experiences in phase ii.
From what has happened so far everyone seems happy with the change, you could almost say that Covid forced us to adapt, and adapt is what we have done. Joel Walding together with Ash Porter have beefed up the culinary team (pun intended) to accommodate phase ii which incidentally was one of Joel’s hopes for the future, giving him much greater scope to develop his and his team’s culinary skills.
The Virginia Sparkling Company
It’s been a long time coming – The Virginia Sparkling Wine Company.
Our first Sparkling wine goes back, believe or not, as far as 2003. That was the year that was almost as wet as 2020, the Cabernet Franc would not ripen so when life gives you lemons, if you are a winemaker, you make sparkling wine.
At that time we did not have the equipment to make sparkling wine so Rich Evans ( Owner of Flying Fox at the time) and I decided to drive to Long Island New York with 300 gallons of Cabernet Franc where there was a custom crush facility that could make our Cab Franc into a sparkling Cab Franc. A few weeks ago Elliott Watkins and I did a virtual wine tasting on sparkling wine and actually tasted that 2003 sparkling Cabernet Franc that I named “Mousseux” after the red French bubbly made in the Saumur region in the Loire Valley in France. Incidentally the only country consistently making red sparkling wine is Australia where they use Syrah or what they Shiraz to make usually a sweet or semi-sweet red sparkling wine. I couldn’t resist this opportunity to show you this label of an Australian red sparkling wine that wonderfully illustrates how the Aussies make fun of French terminology by naming the wine “Uncle Dick- The Red Brute”
We started our own production of sparkling wine in 2007 in concert with Claude Thibaut and after years of trying we failed to set up a working relationship with Claude so we decided to go on our own. Elliott came to Veritas as an intern in 2011 he graduated with a degree in Enology from Plumpton College in the UK and to our great delight and Chloe’s his been with us ever since.
Elliott has taken on the responsibility of heading up VSC working with Emily and our valiant cellar crew to perfect our sparkling wine production.
VSC is to be based at what we call “The Mill” the property that houses Flying Fox on what is called Critzers Shop Road on Route 250.
With the help of a grant from Nelson County and a lot financial wizardry from George we have been able to buy the machinery and with the determination of Elliott and Euro Machines from we have got the machinery up and running within a couple of weeks delivery. We can disgorge as many as a thousand bottles an hour using state of the art equipment in a state of the art facility.
There are so many reasons that make the production of sparkling wine in Virginia such a good prospect that we are hoping, with fingers crossed and with the support of our incredible customer base, not to mention our wine club, we are entering the next chapter in the continued success of not only Veritas Winery, Flying Fox, the Farmhouse at Veritas but also The Virginia Sparkling Wine company here in Nelson County – it makes a nice story.
It may have come to your notice or on the other hand you might be one of our faithful supporters who voted for The Farmhouse at Veritas which was nominated by the readers of USA Today in two categories one as best of the top ten Winery restaurants and the other as one of the best of the top ten Winery Hotels. Admittedly the farmhouse is not a hotel but it qualifies as “bijou” hotel. Now, guys we are talking about one of the top ten of the best restaurants/ hotels in the entire US of A. Just to be nominated was a blast and there was a time when we were leading in the restaurant category as it turns out, in the end we were ranked fourth in the restaurant and third in the hotel category. The Farmhouse is run by a team and it did so well because the team works so well together. Dan Ziebigen the Farmhouse chef gets a huge shout out along with Angel Cruz who is our Maitre’D and service manager.
The person who pretty much has single handedly developed the Farmhouse since its inception is my dear wife Patricia, she deserves the most credit because she is the one and only leader of the team. Congratulations Patricia! She also takes our award for best person of the season.
Placings from USA Today are below.
We all went to the beach -this time to Sandbridge we had the usual mix of sun, sea and lots of blond haired blue eyed girls.
We have the big girls.
And we’ve got the intermediate girls.
And we’ve got the little girls.
12 Memory Lane
As we go through another wrench in modern history I want to keep on the bright side. I posted this on my last spring post and to me it resonates so much more at the end of summer as the plague continues to divide us against one another.
Note of Optimism
Stay safe and become the change.
Raconteur and Diletante