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Veritas Vineyard and Winery
by
K.L. Sullivan

The Veritas tasting room and winery is a large and relaxing winery to visit. The large veranda is very welcoming as one approaches the main entrance. It was a very windy day as we entered the tasting room and Patricia Hodson greeted us. Not until later did we learn she and her husband own Veritas. The name Veritas is from a Roman historian, Pliny who observed: “In Vino Veritas” meaning “In Wine There Is Truth.” Andrew and Patricia believe that “the truth in our wine is in our grapes.”

Andrew and Patricia Hodson opened Veritas Vineyard and Winery in 1992. This is truly a family vineyard and winery. As the vineyard manager, Patricia takes care of the cultivation and care of the grapevines. Andrew and his oldest daughter, Emily, share the duties of winemaker. Their son-in-law, Edward Pelton, is in charge of the tasting room and special events. Edward is also a talented artisan as can be seen by the large ceiling lights, which he created and the sculpture at the entrance of the winery.

The tasting room is large and planning has definitely gone into the tasting room design and decorating. Wood floors accent the numerous leather sofas and chairs. Conversation areas are created by various groupings of chairs and sofas. Along one wall is a large fireplace. One can easily imagine sharing a bottle of wine with friends in front of a flaming fire. High above the floor of the tasting room is a small balcony, which holds four round tables with six chairs. This area is perfect for small casual meetings.

The winemaker and proprietor met us and took us on a tour of the facility. As we talked with Andrew we learned about many different aspects of winemaking including ice wine. “The more the pain the better the wine.” To be a “true” ice wine the grapes must be picked while frozen and rushed to the winery and crushed while frozen. If you like cold weather, there might be a special job for you at a winery that produces “true” ice wine. We also discussed corked wine. According to Andrew, there is a zero zone, where the wine is not quite right but only the winemaker will notice. However, this level will continue to increase to the point where the consumer will notice. Veritas is moving towards using screw tops, which eliminate corked wine.

According to Andrew, the climate in Virginia is not kind to vineyards. Due to the cold snap last week, Veritas lost 75% of their Chardonnay grapes for this year. Andrew quoted an English saying, “Prove you can do something even when everyone is against you.” “We persevere. You are lucky to get a new year,” he said. By experimenting at Veritas, they were able to determine that Petit Verdot grows well in this area of Virginia.

The vineyards consist of 25 acres and with additional purchasing of grapes from surrounding vineyards Veritas is able to produce approximately 8,000 cases. The tasting room sells approximately 90% of the wine produced at Veritas.

 

As the tour continued downstairs we had the opportunity to see a truck bottling system in action. Do not be deceived by automatic bottling and labeling systems. There is an incredible amount of hard labor in dealing with this process. Once filled the cases are picked up and rolled down the conveyor and need to be picked up and put on a pallet. Each box weighs 40 pounds. Six people were working on or next to the bottling truck. There are advantages for wineries to hire bottling trucks rather than purchasing bottling equipment. A winery may only use the bottling truck three or four times a year. If something goes wrong with the equipment the owner of the truck can fix it so the winemaker doesn’t need to worry about mechanical failure.

Andrew continued the tour showing us stainless steel tanks and wood barrels. Traveling up two flights of stairs we entered a loft that can be used by small groups. The loft overlooks the tasting room.

 

 

Above the storage area a beautiful room is set up for wedding receptions and other large group functions. Sixty weddings are already booked for this room. The room can hold 250 people and has amazing views of the vineyards and mountains in the distance.

 

 

We tasted several wines at the long copper tasting bar in the tasting room. We were interested in the Petit Verdot 2005 and the Kenmar 2005. These two wines were selected to go to England in the spring of 2007 to be tasted at Vinopolis in London. Both of these wines were very good and should impress the Mother Country. We also tasted the Petit Manseng 2005. The wine was slightly sweet. The Petit Manseng grape is becoming popular in the Monticello area of Virginia. It does quite well in this environment and develops a high level of brix. The grape can be picked early to produce a dry or semi-dry wine.

Andrew’s daughter, Emily, has joined the family business as another winemaker. More female winemakers are making wine in the United States than in previous times. Emily recently produced a wine, and won an award for it. The 2005 Kenmar, a dessert wine, produced with the Traminette grape, is made in an Ice Wine-like process. Emily was the Overall Winner of the Red, White, Sparkling and Dessert wine categories in the Women Winemakers Challenge portion of the 2007 National Women’s Wine Competition. We enjoyed the aromatic intensity and the balance of tropical fruit, crystallized citrus and honey. Unlike some dessert wines, which are syrupy sweet, this was sweet and had a nice acidic balance. Congratulations Emily!

You will enjoy a visit to Veritas. The natural beauty of the area can provide lingering memories as you enjoy your favorite Veritas wine.

Veritas Vineyards and Winery
Afton, Virginia    

For more information: Veritas Vineyards and Winery

GPS: N38° 00.977’ W078° 50.213’


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