This is the spring that we dared to hope for. What a difference a year makes! Last spring, we experienced the shutdown from COVID-19 and then the shutdown from frost. Not just one frost but two brutal events, two weeks apart that very nearly shut us down.
This year is the reverse and we can actually rejoice in spring.
We can rejoice in the verdant blossoming of life as leaves assail us with every hue of green, as the air is sweetened by flowers with honey and lilac; as your senses are blinded by the colors and the fragrances the gentle bleating of the lambs completes the symphony of spring.
It was Patricia who started it all in 2014 when she agreed to take some ewes from our ”good” friends Christine and Dennis Vrooman 🙂.
Our lambs, all 31 of them, have added to the harmony of the farm. We lost a few and four were orphaned but the family stepped up, led by Bill and Di and backed whenever possible by Charlotte and the grand girls. Charlotte named our first orphan April because she was born on April 1.
We dodged one freeze threat and everything at the moment is on schedule. I couldn’t help witnessing both the flowering and the fruit set as I walked through the vineyard today. If you missed it, I recently wrote a blog about vine flowering, also known as efflorescence. To our delight we have the blessing of warmth and sunlight, all of which will make for a good fruit set and a good crop.
Bill’s task from now until veraison – that’s the time in mid- to late-July when the green grapes change color and start to ripen – is canopy management. This will maximise the the sun-catching capacity of the vine leaves and expose the fruit as early as possible to avoid sunburn.
Yes, grapes like human beings get sunburnt if exposed to too much sun too early.
Someone recently asked me why it is so important to age wine and especially red wines like our flagship reds, Petit Verdot and Reserve Red. The best of each varietal is selected and blended to make the best of the best. We know that by aging those wines they will develop the best of the qualities and flavors that only come from the process of aging.
Flavors as well as textures only result when a good wine, a wine with balance, intensity, and complexity is allowed to age.
For a wine to age say over 5-10 years the wine must be kept stable at a temperature of 55-60℉. Not only stable in terms of temperature but also in physical stability. Marcel Guigal, the architect of the success of northern Rhone wines, had to move his cellar in the village of Ampuis because it was too close to the main road; the trucks created too much vibrations for the wine to settle.
Aging brings out the very best of the flavors from the grapes themselves, from the winemaking process and finally from the peace and quiet of the aging process.
Three major components of the wine change as a wine ages, the flavors, the textures, and the color. Most importantly for textures the tannins soften and as the dead yeasts (the lees) dissolve into the wine. The texture of the wine becomes richer and more mouth filling. And when it comes to flavors, the oak gives its own nuances of toast, coconut, and vanilla that add complexity.
Aging by definition is a slow process and the major determining factor is the ingress of oxygen that actually perfuses through the wood of the barrel to produce exotic flavors like forest floor, truffle, spices of all sorts and, if aged long, notes of caramel, coffee and chocolate.
One of the good things amongst many is that red wine changes color as it ages. A young red wine, like say a Nouveau Beaujolais, is almost purple in color. As red wine ages it turns to ruby, probably the most commonly red descriptor used in describing the color of red wine. Truth to tell, as a wine turns from ruby to garnet, garnet is the best color for a red wine as that is when the wine is at its best.
Barolo is the one exception. It is an Italian red wine made from the nebbiolo grape that loves to age. The older it gets the more orange red it looks. You should never open a Barolo until it is at least ten years old!
The Farmhouse is going gang-busters for good reason; the restaurant reservation platform, OpenTable rated the Farmhouse as one of the top ten restaurants in the Charlottesville area; and the readers of USA Today voted the Farmhouse at Veritas THE best winery-associated restaurant on the east coast of the USA.
I bring that up now – the vote occurred last September because I don’t think enough people are aware of it.
Not only is it a great place to fine dine but also if you have been there recently you would have noticed that we are enlarging the dining room space, upgrading the kitchen, and putting on a 12-foot deck around the whole kaboodle. All very exciting. The front of the Farmhouse – the real front – is being reconfigured so that instead of walking into the kitchen to check in guests will actually enter through the front door.
Talking of the Farmhouse Gabriella who has been working as the Farmhouse manager for the last year is our MVP for the spring newsletter.
Gabriella, who is as beautiful as her name suggests, started with us umpteen years ago. She has a natural charm and an extraordinary work ethic that has gotten her where she deserves to be as the Guest Manager at The Farmhouse at Veritas.
I don’t usually talk much about Patricia and myself in the newsletter but this time is an exception. I spent five years studying Medicine at Bristol University in the UK from 1965 -1970.
I studied with Shapour Mobasser; he was at that time from Persia, now Iran. During the five years of studying together we pretty much kept in our own “bubbles.” Well to make a long story short, Shapour moved to Atlanta around the same time I moved to Philadelphia almost fifty years ago, and after that interminable length of time he and Berthe came to visit Patricia and me.
I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed their visit; must be something to do with studying Medicine together for five years.
Lydia Pelton is rowing her heart out. She and her BFF Laney came sixth in the double skull event at the USRowing regatta in Sarasota last week.
Hailey is as intent on running as Lydia is on rowing. Here she is after winning the State Championship for the Cross Country Relay.
Charlotte – here she is on her 13th Birthday as the “Emerald Princess”.
Here is Amelia on her 12th Birthday as Mimi.
The Weenies – they are as beautiful as ever.
Well folks we at Veritas are cautiously optimistic as a new dawn opens up for the United States of America.
The virus may have brought us to our knees but I really think we are getting back up. It is hard to make any sense of what chaos, grief and suffering the world has had to endure from this scourge, but the greatest thing about the human race is its resilience in the face of adversity.
Enjoy the optimism of spring as we look forward to what will turn out to be truly a memorable Fourth of July.
From all of us at Veritas have a Happy Fourth, the celebration of our Democracy and our Independence.
Chief Bottle Washer (Ret’d)
Raconteur and Dilettante (Ret’d)