I just love it when couples with two different ethnic backgrounds get married at Keswick Vineyards. It is such an experience to see wedding ceremonies of another culture. For Mary Beth & Sameer, it was a combination of American and Indian traditions. The day started with the Hindu ceremony. MS Events did a beautiful job building a staged wrapped with fabric and garland with flowers by Verde Natural Florals. Mary Beth and Sameer looked beautiful in their traditional Indian attire. I find this ceremony so fascinating to watch with all the symbolism they use through out the ceremony. It starts with a cloth separating the couple from seeing one another. Once they have seen each other Sameer applies a red powder to Mary Beth's parting hair as a symbol of her married status. Sameer then adorns her with a sacred black beaded necklace symbolizing his love for her. A fire is then lit with prayers being offered. They then walk around the fire 4 times to symbolize the four goals of human existence. Towards the end, they both step on a stone and offer a prayer for their mutual love to be firm and steadfast like a stone. Finally, they take seven steps together which represents the Hindu belief that they will remain lifelong friends. Isn't that a beautiful ceremony??? After that ceremony, guests enjoyed some refreshments prepared by Harvest Moon Catering while the wedding party did a quick change for the American ceremony. Pastor Brian Purcell lead the American ceremony. I love how Mary Beth & Sameer wrote love letters to each other that were placed in a box, along with a bottle of Keswick Vineyards wine, that is locked until their 1st anniversary. Those letters will always remind them of the reasons why they love one another so much and why they chose to get married. After that ceremony guests enjoyed a few more refreshments while pictures were taken. I just love Photographer William Walker. He really gets into his work. He needed to show Mary Beth & Sameer a look he wanted for a photo so he quickly grabbed his wife who is also his second shooter, Jessica, to give a quick demo (see my photo below). So glad I was able to capture that fun moment. Dinner was then served buffet style by Harvest Moon Catering. Guests were then treated by one of those spectacular Virginia sunsets that are just amazing to witness. How special was that????? Once under the Sperry tent for the evening, DJ TD Layman kept the dance floor packed while guests danced the night away. Mary Beth & Sameer's entire day was flawless under the direction of Barbara Lundgren and her Barb Wired team.
None of this would be possible without the teamwork of the following vendors: Harvest Moon Catering, Barb Wired Event Planning, DJ TD Layman of Sound Enforcement, Photographer William Walker and his wife Jessica, Verde Natural Florals, Favorite Cakes, MS Events, Pastor Brian Purcell, Hair & Make-up Artist Marci Corle with A More Beautiful You and UTS Buses.
Not sure the weather could get any better than it was for Katie & Will's vineyard wedding last Saturday. The sun was out which provided the warmth yet there was a slight breeze to keep you comfortable. Simply perfect! The beautiful Virginia weather matched the beauty of this wedding. Cody Grannis, Owner of Amore Events in Charlottesville, did an AMAZING job as the event planner. Her attention to every detail was obvious from the chandelier hanging from the oak tree for the ceremony to gold stripes on the macaroons to match the gold details throughout the Sperry tent for the reception. And what about the grooms cake! What an amazing job Katie's friend did in replicating Will's military uniform. Katie, Will and their entire family and friends were such a delight. What a great time everyone had dancing the night away. Their special day would not of been possible without the hard work from all of the following Charlottesville wedding vendors: Event Planner Amore Events, Caterer Beggar's Banquet, DJ Derek Tobler, Photographer Laura Gordon, Videographer Adam & Mandy of MPA Productions, Make-up Artist Anne Kibler from Charlottesville Make-up, Pastry Chef Sweethaus, Hair Artist Erica from Top Knot Studio, Officiant Phillip Gates, Charlottesville Photo booth, Musician Peter Richardson, late night treats from Carpe Donut and Buses by Easy Riders. Click here to view a short video by MPA Productions. Click here to read their story on Style Me Pretty with photos by Laura Gordon.
Saturday, April 5th, started Keswick Vineyards 2014 Charlottesville wedding season with the marriage of Brooke & Matt. It was hard to believe that just a week earlier we were still getting snow! Thankfully, Mother Nature welcomed this wedding day with a beautiful Virginia Spring day. Brooke and her family made sure the day was filled with plenty of personal DIY details that were just perfect for a winery wedding. Everyone loved Brooke's centerpieces; she glued together 3 wine bottles, wrapped some ribbons around them and put a card holder down the center to hold the table numbers. Verde Natural Florals added a few flowers into each wine bottle and that was it. She set them on top of a piece of wood just to add a little something extra to the look. Brooke & Matt also made a cork board to display the names for the seating at each table. Her father made several wood signs to put through out the property including one that showed how many different locations people traveled from to attend this wedding and how far away each one was. The wedding party looked so sharp with the bridesmaids being in a light pink color and the groomsmen in a charcoal grey suit. Guests enjoyed cocktail hour while listening to musician Peter Richardson play his guitar. Afterwards guests were seated under the Sperry tent to enjoy a buffet dinner prepared by Southern Inn Catering. Thanks to the following Charlottesville wedding vendors for doing such a great "opening day" wedding: Caterer Southern Inn Catering, DJ Mark Allen, Photographer Jamie Kay, Florist Verde Natural Florals, Pastry Chef Albemarle Baking Company, Officiant Ryan Thompson, Hair by Kimberly and Musician Peter Richardson. Click here to see photos by Charlottesville wedding photographer, Jamie Kay.
First and Foremost, a belated Happy New Year to all! I trust and hope that 2014 will turn out to be a very special year filled with happiness and all resolutions being met and exceeded. At Keswick Vineyards, most of the work is centered on the vineyard, ensuring we get all the pruning done before bud break in early April, but the wines and the winery still need some attention. The harvest that was 2013 was challenging to say the least, with a spring frost, a cooler than normal growing season and wildlife of biblical proportions testing the growers and winemakers across the state. I started calling myself Moses since I had 2 of everything on this farm eating the grapes.
- For us, we had to be very careful with how we managed the vineyard and as such decided to bring fruit in a little earlier than hoped, choosing to be a touch more proactive in the winery than we would generally like to be. Since the fruit was not optimally ripe, sorting was critical and many hours were spent on the sorting table, eradicating anything unsatisfactory. We also stayed true to our philosophy of natural fermentation where possible and 50% of our wines were fermented without the addition of commercial yeast, normally we are in the 80-90% range. Although the intention is to ferment wines naturally, under certain conditions of poorer fruit quality, we will add a commercial yeast in order to better control the fermentation and winemaking.
- Fermentations all finished [thankfully] and managing the tannin extraction was critical in ensuring the wines remained balanced, since we were dealing with elevated acid levels and slightly greener flavors. Much is made of yeast choice, fermentation temperatures and other cellar practices but we pay special attention to a rather mundane task of extreme barrel stirring. We believe that barrel stirring really has a softening affect on the astringency of our wines, as well as creating a textural component which for us is also important. Once fermentation is completed, the yeast that converted the sugar into alcohol dies, and settles with time to the bottom of the vessel [either barrel or tank]. At this point a lot of winemakers will employ a racking, whereby most of the wine is removed from the layer of this yeast, essentially clarifying the wine to a certain extent. This process also serves the purpose of introducing oxygen into the wine, ensuring the wine does not become reductive or start smelling like rotten eggs. Others, like myself, employ a vigorous program of stirring each and every barrel of wine to ensure the yeast remains in suspension.
The practice of leaving the wine in contact with lees dates back to Roman times, the chemistry behind this phenomenon was not clearly understood, but the positive effects of this practice were noticed. When wine is left in contact with lees, enzymes start to break down the cells, producing mannoproteins and polysaccharides which are released into the wine. Through a metabolic pathway, enzyme substrates [beginning molecules] are turned into some eventual product, in this case the proteins and sugars which in turn lead to fuller bodied wines with better mouthfeel. These products also react with phenolic compounds, reducing the astringency and bitterness of tannins, which in 2013 was a concern due to slightly under ripe fruit.
There is no formula or yardstick by which we measure how often we should employ these stirrings, at the moment we are doing it once a week and then tasting the wine to see if there are any distinguishable changes, either positive or negative. Negative flavors could be the reducing conditions discussed above, resulting in smells reminiscent of rotten eggs, which could reduce further, leading to potentially greater problems in the wine. At this point, a racking would be the simplest form of treatment, discarding the yeast in the vessel. Thankfully, the wines are showing a positive change and are definitely showing a richer texture than when we started so for now we will continue to monitor the wines and keep stirring. The Chardonnays are displaying a creamier texture with an almost brioche like flavor, a great counter play to the acidity and minerality that has become a hallmark of our wines. The reds have fleshed out a little bit, the wines are not as disjointed as they were a few months ago and there is a better balance between the acidity, fruit and tannin structure of the wine. Sometimes the simplest things have the most profound effect on the wine, in this case just stirring the wine constantly.
The bright spot is that after a year with one challenge after the other, the red wines are amazing and we expect to release a Heritage [our Bordeaux estate blend] for the first time since 2007 as well as a varietal Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, both of which look superb. The whites, as always, are consistent and showcase a character that we see each and every year. Still plenty of time to let these wine evolve and develop, but I am liking where they are right now and look forward to seeing where they will end up. Stay tuned Cheers Stephen Barnard Winemaker
Laura & Christian were married on Saturday, November 2nd, and had the fortune of the peak of fall colors for their wedding day. Photographer Elizabeth Larson and myself just couldn't get enough of this couple with the beautiful colors and lighting Mother Nature was giving us. Please excuse the excessive photos I'm including but sometimes you just can't help yourself and this was one of those times. Laura & Christian incorporated into their ceremony the sealing of a wine box with love letters in it with a special bottle of wine. I love when couples do this. Another cute detail to their wedding was stacking dolls on tables to represent Christian's Russian inheritance. This couple was just full of fun and silliness which definitely came through on some of the photos with their wedding party. Instead of the traditional wedding cake, Laura & Christian opted for a dessert table with tasty pastries and Carpe Donut truck for dessert. What a wonderful wedding these two had. Thanks to the following vendors for doing such a fantastic job: 20 South Catering, Barb Wired Event Planner, Photographer Elizabeth Larson, DJ Rick Haggard, Hair & Make-up by Faces by Joy, Florist Lacy's of Orange, Carpe Donut Truck, Officiant Lisa Rogers, rentals by Festive Fare and Camryn Limousine. Click here to read Elizabeth Larson's blog.
Stephanie & Geoff were married at Keswick Vineyards on Saturday, November 9th. The sun was out on this beautiful, crisp Virginia fall day. Guests enjoyed a delicious buffet dinner prepared by Harvest Moon and danced the night away under the heated Sperry tent. Thank you to the following vendors: Caterer Harvest Moon, DJ Mark Allen, Musicians Madison Trio, Photographer Sarah Goodwin, Colonial Florist, transportation by Wahooptie, Officiant Rev. Don Bryant, Pastry Chef Rita Shippee (family friend) and Event Planner Jessica Carroll.
Rachel & Sean were married at Keswick Vineyards on Sunday, October 27th on a colorful Charlottesville fall day. I love how Rachel & Sean chose to have their wedding ceremony in what I call our "fall" location. It gives you the best of everything for a backdrop. You have the Estate, the fountain, the vineyard, the mountains and all the fall colors! Hard to capture it all in a photo since you are basically surrounded with breathtaking views. Rachel incorporated just enough orange in her color scheme to blend with the natural fall colors. Her bouquet by Verde Natural Florist was right on and the simplicity of the centerpieces were perfect! Love the idea of using old shutters to put place cards in for guests to find their table. Also, love the look of using an old door as a table top above wine barrels to create a sweet table. Thanks to the following vendors that make weddings here so effortless for our couples: Caterer Barbeque Exchange, DJ Andy Wilfong, Photographer Audra Wrisley, Verde Natural Florist, Officiant Steve Farmer, rentals by MS Events and Musician Peter Markush.