Keswick Vineyards began its 2012 wedding season on April 28th with the marriage of Sarah & Joyee. What a way to start off our wedding season. Sarah & Joyee had 2 ceremonies; one American & one Hindu. Sarah wore a beautiful lace wedding dress for their first ceremony. Joyee and the groomsmen wore dark suits. Guest enjoyed the backdrop of the Southwestern Mountains and the vineyard as they gathered on the front lawn of the estate. Sarah was escorted down the flower lined aisle by her father. After the first ceremony guests enjoyed cocktails & hors d'oeuvres while the wedding party changed to get ready for the Hindu ceremony. Sarah was carried in like Cleopatra by four groomsmen. She kept her face covered with 2 leaves as she circled 7 times around Joyee before revealing her face to him. I was fascinated with this ceremony. I have never seen a Hindu wedding and was just amazed by the beauty and culture. Even though I couldn't understand a word of the ceremony, it was easy to understand by the hand gestures and props that were used throughout the ceremony. The colors were just amazing with all the red and gold. I'll never forget this ceremony; simply breathtaking! Once all the ceremonies were completed the guest were escorted to the Sperry Tent for the reception. After dinner the dancing began and again, what a treat that was with the Indian music and dances. I can't say enough to how sweet of a couple Sarah & Joyee and their entire family were. I really appreciate you choosing Keswick Vineyards for your wedding and wish you a lifetime (times 7) of love and happiness. Congratulations!
Special thanks to the following vendors for such a wonderful job: C&O Catering, Jen Fariello Photgraphy, BeeHive Floral & Decor, DJ Pauly Madison, Barb Wired Wedding Planner, Albemarle Limousine.
Click here to see this wedding featured in The Knot.
Have you ever wondered how a winery and winemaker confidently predicts how a wine should be tasting it's best in 8-10 years? When you have a few years of wine making behind you, have a style that has been consistent and grow grapes in a conducive environment; then guessing the age ability of wine is really not that hard. That being said, we assume the wine is not being kept above the kitchen stove where temperature fluctuations happen on a daily basis, instead they are being stored in pristine cellars where temperature and humidity levels are perfect.
So why are storage conditions so important? There are three storage conditions of concern to collectors and consumers of fine wine: light, humidity and temperature. The storage area for wine must be dark because ultraviolet (UV) light will damage wine by causing the degradation of otherwise stable organic compounds found in wine. Since these organic compounds contribute to the aroma, flavor and structure of the wine, the changes caused by UV light result in the deterioration of the essence of wine. Have you ever wondered why clear glass is not often used anymore, with darker green bottles being preferred for red and white wine? Well now you know.
The only reason humidity is an issue in wine storage is because of the use of the traditional cork seal. The relative humidity of the storage area (i.e., the amount of gaseous water in the air) can exacerbate the rate of evaporation of wine from the bottle if the cork is defective. Since corks are far from perfect in their ability to seal a bottle of wine, ullage (the space between the bottom of the cork and the wine level in the bottle) develops in almost all bottles stored for extended periods due to evaporation. If the cork (seal) is defective, low humidity in the storage area will result in wine moving out of the bottle faster over time and significant ullage will develop in less time under these conditions. Thus, the more important issue is the quality of the cork seal and not the relative humidity in the storage area. Of course, very low humidity can dry out the cork leading to sealing problems. The advent of technical closures and screw caps though sort of takes the humidity issue out of the equation, but the conundrum is. Are wines bottled under screw caps, really destined for long-term aging? There are some trials being done on wines bottled under screw caps and the results are quite astonishing but that is for another blog I think.
Assuming one has good cork seals, and a non-drying (i.e., moderately humid) and dark storage area, the most important factor in the storage and aging of wine is temperature. If you ask most anyone associated with wine, from collector to so-called expert, they will most likely tell you that the ideal storage temperature is 55° to 60°F. According to conventional wisdom, wine develops most harmoniously if stored in this temperature range with little or no fluctuation. So, for example, an excellent storage temperature would be 55°F with a fluctuation of plus or minus one degree.
Lets assume that storage is perfect and that all variables associated with atypical aging have been taken care of, all that leaves is the quality of the wine. Hang on a moment, what determines the quality of a wine, what if it was a good wine that was designed to be consumed in one to two years? The plot thickens. Hah, a great wine can certainly be something that needs to be consumed young, think Sauvignon or Chenin Blanc for example. Their charm lies in their accessibility and their lack of over complicated terms and descriptors. I would just love to read a label where it says the following.
Enjoy me, for I am delicious Case closed, drink it how you like, when you like and with whom you like and if you love it, have another. With all the food pairings, temperatures you have to serve it at, don't we sometimes just have to remember to enjoy the wine, is it not the reason we make it? Before I digress too much further, as a winemaker I am asked to write back labels for wines that I have made prior to them being bottled. The information we provide includes the blend, some flavors and aromas the customer might perceive and the age ability of the wine.
For our 2007 Heritage, I said the wine should age 8-10 years and drink beautifully. The question is, can I confidently say that the wine will actually taste that good if someone laid it down for that period of time? Honest answer, I think so but do I know for certain, NO! I thus thought I needed to develop a tasting guide for all the wines that we have made here at Keswick Vineyards, advising the consumers who have these wine in their cellar, if they needed to be drinking or holding onto them.
My research project thus consists of opening up 115 wines over the next few weeks and developing new tasting notes with the suggestions of drink now; not yet ready or past its prime. It should be a very informative period of "tasting", one that will be hugely beneficial to me as a winemaker to re-visit wines that I have not tasted for a while. I should also able to go back to my original notes and see how these wines have aged, as I have them stored in a Eurocave where the temperature has been constant and any atypical aging can be directly attributed to wine making instead of environmental conditions. I shall take into account vintage variation, wine making methodologies and wax lyrical about non-interventionist wine-making. I shall present a very honest opinion [for this will be from my point of view] about how the wines are tasting at that very moment.
I am therefore asking if you taste an older vintage of our wines, please let me know what you think about it. Could the wine age longer or was it past its prime and how long would you still leave it for if you have another bottle. I hope to have this tasting guide up in about a month. HMM, 4 weeks and 115 bottles of wine as a rate of 28.7 bottles per week. You have got to love doing some research! Stay tuned for the results.
I love wine, I drink my weight in wine and if you have seen me lately you will know that I am saying I drink a fair bit. One of the most fascinating about this elixir is that it transports you a to another world, in that the wine you drink reflects the area or place in which it was grown. Why is a Chardonnay from California so remarkably different to one from Burgundy? The concept of Terroir speaks to this notion, that due to a variety of influences [soil, elevation, row direction, planting density, cropping levels etc] a wine from distinctly different areas will always taste unique. No matter the influence of the winemaker, a Chardonnay grown in the Cote d Or of Burgundy will taste remarkably different to one grown in the Russian River AVA of California. You could argue that there are stylistic similarities [full malo-lactic fermentation or the use of French oak], but that the inherent differences in the wine will always take you back to the place where it all starts, the vineyard. Thai food was on the menu last night, and I thought it the perfect opportunity to break open a few bottles of wine. I am beginning to see a trend between Asian inspired dishes and my need to open up really good wine.
- Last nights trip of choice, was to South Africa with a gorgeous Springfield Estate 2008 Wild Yeast Chardonnay and France, with a 2005 Chateau Haut Bergeron from Sauternes. The Chardonnay is made by winemaker Abrie Bruwer, and the estate is located in Robertson, South Africa. I have always been an admirer of this producer and if you get the chance, look for the "Life from Stone" Sauvignon Blanc and the "Methode Ancienne" Cabernet Sauvignon, you will not be disappointed. With many tools at a winemakers disposal nowadays, this winemaker tends to go back to basics and focus on the vineyard, producing world-class wines that reflect the sense of place. His wine making philosophy is one of minimal interference, fermenting wines with natural yeast, avoiding filtration unless absolutely needed and as the website quotes "let the wine make itself". The 2008 harvest was by all means a fairly tricky one, with cooler than average temperatures and higher than average rainfall. Many producers talk about the fight against fungal disease and the importance of picking at the right time. The biggest positive is that cooler temperatures lead to retention of acid in the fruit and better phenolic ripeness. [Information taken from Angela Lloyds 2008 harvest report]. The Springfield Chardonnay is fermented entirely in stainless steel tank but is allowed to undergo 100% malo-lactic fermentation, and is furthermore aged on the lees for over a year prior to bottling. The wine displayed gorgeous tropical aromas that followed through onto the palate, marked by vibrant acidity which ensured this Chardonnay was lively and focused. I have been pretty down on Chardonnay wines recently, but this wine will certainly change a few opinions and is a champion that Chardonnay still has plenty to offer the consumer. You owe it to yourself to seek this bottle out and give it a try; not withstanding it is from my home country, I really loved this wine! From New World to Old World, a dessert wine from Sauternes finished the evening off.
- This particular Sauternes is made up of 60% Semillion and 40% Sauvignon Blanc. Many experts believe the Haut-Bergeron to be the best of the Non-Classified Sauternes. Part of their vineyards are in Barsac, with the remaining vineyards in Preignac [right next to the world-famous Chateau D Yquem]. The first thing you notice is the gorgeous color which is brilliantly gold, with amber tinges. The aromas are rich and luscious with apricots, honey and caramel tones. This wine is wonderfully textured, rich and lengthy and I suspect there is a fair amount of new oak in this wine [although I cannot confirm]. For all my praises; my wife Kathy did not enjoy this wine at all, alluding to a smell that just did not agree with her. The beauty of wine is that we each have our own opinions. I thought this wine to be showing beautifully though and may still have a few years left in the bottle, although I would probably drink it in the next 2-3 years. What a way to spend an evening, eating Thai food, drinking South African and French wine will sitting in Charlottesville US. Life is good especially when you can share it with people you love. This was one trip worth taking, and that for me is the ultimate beauty of wine. Tonight I think I might visit Australia.
Here's to wonderful wines
On Saturday, November 12th, Samantha & Jake were married at Keswick Vineyards. Thankfully the weather was about 10 degrees warmer then the day before and what a difference that made outside. Samantha, Jake and their entire wedding party are performers so this wedding was very animated. It was a challenge to get some traditional wedding photo's from this group. Guest had a wonderful evening enjoying cigars by a fire pit they brought. It was a beautiful evening still lit by the full moon. Guest got an extra treat that evening with a singing/dance performance from the guest who are the "Celtic 5" that perform at Busch Gardens. They were incredible and the crowd loved it! All of us at Keswick Vineyards wish Samantha & Jake all the best and a special thank you to the following vendors who participated in their special day: Photographer Ashley Whitlow, DJ Gregory Vinson Jr., The Early Katering Company, flowers by Hedge Fine Blooms, officiant Danni Burnette and wedding cake by Buttercream Dreams.
Congratulations to Leah & David who were married at Keswick Vineyards on one of the most popular wedding days for this year. This wedding was extra special to Keswick Vineyards since Leah's parents, Debbie & Gregg, have been part of the "Keswick family" for several years. They are both wine club members and barrel owners. Debbie & Gregg purchased their wine barrel as a gift to each other for their 30th wedding anniversary. Gregg made sure that his love for Keswick Vineyards was obvious to all the guest by having their barrel with plaque under the reception tent and then wearing a tuxedo shirt that appeared to be just that until he took off his jacket to reveal this wine theme tuxedo shirt. (see photo's below) I have to get one of these for my husband Al! It was an honor to be chosen as the venue to host their daughters wedding and we sincerely thank them for that. Now, onto Leah & David. What a delightful couple they are. David & Leah were such good sports, along with their photographers, to brave the chill in the air and ride around in the golf cart to capture all the different backdrops for photo's. I think they will see that it was well worth it. Leah & David chose to do a "1st look" before their ceremony which I think is a great idea. It allows the photographer more time to take all those wonderful portrait photo's of the couple before the ceremony which allows them more time with their guests. Leah & David got married at 4:15 pm. It struck me kind of strange that they would choose that time versus 4:00 or 4:30 but then Leah's father explained to me the significants of that time. Apparently on April 15th (4-15) Leah & David realized that they had found their soul mate and knew they would be getting married so they used that date as their ceremony time. How sweet is that? This entire wedding was full of special meanings. Every time I walked around I would notice something cute that I hadn't seen earlier. Leah and some of her family and friends had made Monster Cookies and Pumpkin Bread from old family recipes. Her Grandmother in California couldn't make the trip so her presence was felt by having these goodies for everyone to take home with them. I got to sample both and they were delicious! Guest enjoyed themselves by dancing the night away under a full moon. Thanks to the following vendors who made Leah & David's wedding so special for them: catering by 20 South, Katie Jett Walls of Red Turtle Photography, musicians The Madison Trio, Pastor Renee Teague, make-up artist Karen Lanquette, DJ Mark Allen of Class Productions DJ Services and Pastry Chef Porter's. Below are some of my photo's capturing the beauty of their wedding. Click here to view the professional photo's by Katie Jett Walls.
Congratulations to Virginia & Jack who were married at Keswick Vineyards by Pastor Larry Farnen on Saturday, October 15th, 2011. Virginia & Jack met when they both attended the University of Virginia. They currently live in Richmond along with their families and wanted to come back to the Charlottesville area to be married. Virginia was such a stunning bride and Jack looked very handsome in his dark grey suit. The yellow colors in her bouquet provided by Sugar Magnolias complimented the golden colors in the vineyard. The weather was beautiful for this all outdoor ceremony/reception wedding. Virginia & Jack surprised their guest with a taco trailer during cocktail hour. Guest couldn't get enough of Boka Tako Truck. After cocktail hour the guest enjoyed the evening under the Sperry Tent that was beautifully decorated by Skyline Tent. Guest enjoyed a family style dinner catered by C&O of Charlottesville. Jean-Jacques Bakery provided the delicious wedding cakes. Virginia and Jack also had a popcorn buffet served along with some Coke in the original small glass bottles. At the end of the evening instead of doing a sparkler send off, Virginia & Jack gathered on the dance floor with their remaining guest and arm to arm sang the UVA fight song, "That Good Ole' Song". Jay Johnson of Astro Entertainment from Virginia Beach was the DJ providing music for the evening. All the fun and excitement was captured by Studio Saldana Photography from New York. To view their vimeo trailer video click here. Below are some of my photo's from the day.