Amy & Michael were married at Keswick Vineyards on Saturday, August 23rd. Mother Nature was playing with us on trying to decide if it was going to rain or not. The decision was made to move cocktail hour under the tent and to go forward with the ceremony outside. Thankfully we were able to get through the ceremony just before a light drizzle started that we couldn't even pick up on the radar. Nothing that heavy, more of a mist, which made the rest of the day/night much cooler and enjoyable. I really like how Amy & Michael had guests sign rocks with marriage advice for them to keep forever. I know when I lived in Florida I would have my guests sign a seashell which I still have in a chest. Amy Webb at Blue Ridge Florals did an amazing job with the flowers along with Pearl's Cupcake with a beautiful dessert table. Thanks to the following vendors for making this wedding a dream come true for Amy & Michael: Caterer Harvest Moon, Day of Coordinator Jennifer Terkel Taub, DJ Dennis Payne, Photographer Steven Inge of Steven & Lily Photography, Blue Ridge Florals, Pearl's Cupcakes, Makeup Artist Deanna Delgado with Bobbi Brown, Hair Stylist Molly Bush with Urban Chair Richmond, Officiant Brian Purcell, Skyline Tent Company and A&A Transportation. Click here to read Steven & Lily Photography blog.
On Saturday, August 16th, Kate & John were married at Keswick Vineyards located just outside Charlottesville, VA. These two hit the lotto when it came to the weather that day; simply perfect! What Kate & John did with their decor for their reception was one of the best I have seen. My favorite part was how they had 2 different tablecloth colors and on them they would have the contrasting napkin. Using a kiwi green color mixed with white created this soft and sophisticated look. They then added splashes of peach flowers and candlelight that just made everything pop. My pictures just don't do it justice. Love the use of farm tables for the long head table with tall candle operas to create a high and low affect with the flowers. They added just a few hints of rustic items, like the refreshment stand for the ceremony area, to give a little country feel. One other nice thing about this wedding was Kate having both her parents walk her down the aisle. I did the same thing at my wedding. Highly recommend! Thanks to the following vendors for making Kate & John's dream wedding come true: Event Planner Julianne Giuliano of Soiree, Catering by Harvest Moon, DJ T.D. Layman of Sound Enforcement, Classical Hillbillies musicians for ceremony & cocktail hour, Photogrpher Kimie James of IYQ Photography, Pat's Floral Designs, Wedding Cake by Hot Cakes, Make-up and Hair by Modern Bridal Studio, Officiant Reverend Claire Goodman, Rentals by Festive Fare, MS Events and Skyline Tent Company.
Chuoh & Benjamin were married at Keswick Vineyards in Charlottesville, VA on Saturday, August 9th. It is always a pleasure to have fellow Michiganders get married here. The skies were overcast this day which provided a very pleasant temperature for this outdoor wedding. The wedding party and guest arrived by trolleys and were immediately captivated by the lushness of the grounds. Many guest were from California and were blown away by the beauty of this vineyard in Virginia. Many wanted to return to do their wedding here! Benjamin looked so handsome in his white tuxedo. And Chuoh in her wedding dress….simply beautiful! I love how this couple chose to do the wine box to store a special bottle of wine with love letters to each other that will be opened on their 5th anniversary. BBQ Exchange provided some of the best Southern fried chicken I have ever tasted along with some hush puppies and other delicious foods. Guest were treated to a late night snack of fresh donuts while they danced the night away with DJ Stroud. Thanks to the following vendors for doing such an outstanding job: Caterer BBQ Exchange, DJ Stroud, Photographer Robert Radifera, Videographer Bradley Bennett from Shaking Hands Production, Verde Naturals Florist, Pastry Chef Sweet Fix, Officiant Reverend Bhavani Metro, Richmond Trolley, Carpe Donut Truck, MS Events, Photo booth of Charlottesville, Ambassador Limousine, Monticello Nannies, Hair & Make-up by Richelle Williams and Skyline Tent Company.
Congratulations to Sonny & Megan who celebrated their Indian wedding at Keswick Vineyards on Friday, August 1st. With the threat of rain and such an elaborate Hindu ceremony, Sonny & Megan decided to play it safe by renting a tent to house their outdoor wedding ceremony under from Skyline Tent Company. At first I wasn't sure how that would look but once in place, it looked like it always belonged here. With the clear top tent accented with white drapery and a white stage, no one would of known that it was only there because of a rain plan. As the day went on, the skies cleared and the sun came out and no rain! The weather was perfect for this colorful, rich in culture, celebration. The event started with the Barat which is when the groom (Sonny) makes his entrance on a horse while guests parade with him dancing & shouting to the beat of a drum leading to the ceremony location. Megan then joins Sonny on the stage along with both sets of parents and the priest. Many Hindu rituals are done throughout the ceremony starting with Megan putting garland around Sonny's neck to signify that she accepts him as her husband. Towards the end Sonny puts a red powder in Megan's hair indicating that she is a married woman. After the ceremony guests enjoyed cocktails on the grounds of Edgewood Estate. Once under the Sperry reception tent, guests enjoyed a delicious Indian buffet dinner by Indaroma and danced the night away under the direction of DJ Yogi. Thank you to all the vendors for making this night unforgettable to all that attended: Day of Coordinator Trisha Cranor from Working Brides Wedding Planners, Caterer Indaroma, DJ Yogi, Photographer Scott Hopkins, Videographer Artistic Wedding Films, Partyland Florist, Officiant Satyanaraya, A&A Limo for buses, TDR Artistry for hair, Make-up by Daniela, Paisley & Jade for furniture rentals, MS Events & Festive Fare for rentals, VA Tent Rental for stage rental and Skyline Tent Company.
On Saturday, July 12th, Mary & Tyler were united in marriage at Keswick Vineyards located just outside Charlottesville, Virginia. I love the colors that the wedding party wore; hues of purple and charcoal grey. Everyone looked so beautiful! Tyler had made this bench that served as a guest sign in book. What a wonderful piece of furniture that they will always have to remind them of their wedding day. Mary & her sister & friends made lots of signs that were placed throughout the property. She also used an old window shutter to hold placement cards for the guests. Mary & Tyler chose to be married in front of Edgewood Estate with the fountain, vineyard and mountains as their back drop. Doesn't get much better than that. Mother Nature provided them with a beautiful, sunny day with some clouds to help provide some relief during the day. Favorite moment for me was when Tyler's brother played his guitar and sung for Mary & Tyler's first dance. Thanks to all of the following vendors for doing such a fantastic job: Catering by Beggars Banquet, Day-of-coordinator Jennifer Hamlin of Events with Panache, DJ John Garland, Photographer Jamie Kay, Hair Artist Rayna, Make-up Artist Robinette Johnson, Florist Hedge Fine Blooms, Pastry Chef Albemarle Baking Co., Charlottesville String Quartet, Officiant Rev. Dr. Thomas Murphy and Skyline Tent Company. Click here to view photos by Jamie Kay.
Cabernet Sauvignon is arguably the worlds most recognized grape variety, grown in nearly all of the major wine-producing countries in the world. Planted in a variety of climates, the grape first came to prominence in Bordeaux and forms the backbone of some of the most sought after left bank wines, typically blended with Merlot and Cabernet Franc. From France, the grape spread across to the New World to places like Napa Valley, Australia and South Africa. Napa Valley today is probably the single most recognized place where true expressions of Cabernet are currently produced, sometimes blended with Petite Verdot or Merlot, but most often as a single stand alone varietal wine. In 1996, researchers at UC Davis California determined that Cabernet Sauvignon was the offspring of Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc, most likely a chance crossing that occurred in the 17th century. For many years the origins of Cabernet were not understood. The word Sauvignon was believed to be derived from the French word "sauvage" meaning wild, suggesting that it was a wild Vitis Vinifera native to France. Being the offspring of Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc makes sense since Cabernet wines can display the typical characteristics of both of its parents. In certain cases, the wines can show the spicy and pencil lead character of the Franc and in cooler climates, the more greener grassier side of Sauvignon Blanc. Until the 1990's, when it was surpassed by Merlot, Cabernet was the most widely planted red grape variety in the world.
Varietal wine or as part of a blend?
The answer to this question, in my opinion, is determined in large part by the climate in which the grape grows. As a late budding variety and hence later ripening than Merlot or Cabernet Franc, a warmer climate with plenty of sunshine is needed to fully ripen the fruit. In cooler climates where Cabernet might come off the vine a touch early, blending components are added to the wine to create a balanced wine. In some cases you might blend Merlot for fruit character and softening of tannins, Petite Verdot might be used for color and Cabernet Franc might be added for structure and added depth. There is definitely an art to blending and the final blend will vary based on the style of the winery or the vintage quality. Yet for many New World winemakers, there is nothing more satisfying than creating a world-class Cabernet, a stand alone that can convey everything about the vineyard, the growing season and the subtle hand of the winemaker.
Cabernet in Virginia
Of course, I am not making wine in Napa Valley. I am making wine in Virginia, where the climate is not really known for being conducive to growing and making Cabernet. Virginia averages about 48 inches of rain per year, as opposed to the 15-20 inches in Napa Valley. Tropical storms and hurricanes normally affect Virginia in August and September and account for roughly 40% of all the rainfall during that period. It also just happens to coincide with the time period where our red grapes are starting to reach full maturity. More often than not, rain dictates a premature picking of our Cabernet- which explains why most wines made in Virginia that contain the grape are blends. Very few varietal wines are made, and if they are made it is often only in exceptional years such as 2010.
Keswick Vineyards Cabernet
At Keswick Vineyards, we had three specific blocks of Cabernet planted on the estate. We now have two since we pulled one block up due to the fact that vineyard and fruit really did not perform as hoped. Even though we have been making wine since 2002, it was only in 2007 that we first made Cabernet based wines. Our 2007 Cabernet, blended with Merlot and bottled after 10 months in oak, went on to win the Virginia Governors Cup in 2009 and our 2007 Heritage, which spent a further year in bottle, won a platinum medal at the San Diego International Wine Competition. In 2008 Cabernet played a supporting role, largely in part to the growing season. What followed 2008 were, in my mind, two of the most outstanding vintages of recent years. I am in the minority when I say that I believe the 2009 vintage to be stronger than 2010. Yes, 2010 made incredible wines, richly extracted and brooding, but I think that over time the 2009 wines will age better and longer in the bottle. In both years though, we produced and bottled a single varietal Cabernet. No blending, no over manipulation on my part, just good wines that reflect the place in which they were grown, blessed by a fantastic growing season. Both wines share similarities in that they were both fermented without the addition of commercial yeast, aged for 22 months in barrel and unfiltered and unfined going into the bottle. It does give credence to the role climate plays since both wines are remarkably different from a flavor point of view. The 2010 Cabernet, which just won a gold medal at the San Francisco International wine competition and is available for purchase in limited quantities, is definitely the brute of the two, a large wine with sappy dark fruit on the nose, inky in color and tremendous power on the palate. The 2009 Cabernet is the ballet dancer, a bit more graceful and elegant, just as powerful but with a silkier feel to it. I see these wines aging well past 10-15 years. Cabernet is not supposed to do well here. I heard way back that Virginia could not make reds; whites were okay but the reds were weak. So how is it that we can make something that has gone on to win double gold and gold medals at the San Francisco International Wine Competition in California, competing against wines that have the clear advantage in what is considered the largest and most prestigious competition in America? Let me offer my take (and none of it has to do with the winemaker).
Our soils are weak and that is good.
We have done some soil mapping and have found a unique soil that makes up 50% of the Estate. Our soil on which the Cabernet is planted is alluvial based, with rock and shale deposits and very little clay. The soil is extremely well draining and hence the root system of the vine is deeper since it has to go down further to source water. The shale and rock also absorbs and radiates heat to the vine which aides ripening. Why do you think more Merlot is planted on the clay and limestone soils of the right bank and the Cabernet more planted on the gravelly soils of the left bank? The vine is also naturally a low producer of fruit since the soil does not support a lot of vegetative growth. What you get is a small crop of small berries with intense flavor that lead to richly extracted wines. The winemaker's role in that situation is to not screw it up! The other factor which is largely overlooked is the age of the vine. Planted in 2000, these vines are now 14 years old and are starting to reach their full potential. Can we make Cabernet every year? The honest answer is no, since we are at the mercy of mother nature. We have, however, produced a Cabernet wine five times in the last seven years and our 2013 vintage might just be the best one yet. That in itself is a victory for the Virginia wine industry. Ask me today if Virginia can make reds, hell yes we can- and world-class reds to boot! Many producers tend to focus on blends and many a viable argument is made why blended reds are the future for Virginia. It is hard to disagree from a philosophical standpoint. But now that have proven we can make a Cabernet that can compete with some of the big boys out west, that will always be our goal and dream- to make a world-class Cabernet that represents not only Keswick, but also the quality of Virginia.
On Sunday, June 8th, Lucy & James were married at Keswick Vineyards. Let me start off by thanking James for his military service to this great country of ours. I was especially touched when during the ceremony recognition was given to some of his military friends that were no longer with us to celebrate this special day. Lucy and James also had a table set at the reception to pay respect to all of the fallen soldiers and POWs. I've never seen that done before and was very touched by the gesture. Witnessing things like that really tells you a lot about the couple and their priorities and values in life. Lucy and James chose to hold their wedding ceremony amongst the vineyard. I love how they attached a video camera to the pergola to capture their ceremony up close. My favorite thing from this wedding was what Lucy did with her Mother's veil. She draped it on the pergola which was the focal point for the ceremony. For me it was like her Mother wrapping herself around this couple and blessing them. What a great idea! It was especially special since the Mother's girlfriend who made the veil many years ago was also attending this wedding. Special thanks to the following vendors for doing such an incredible job: Catering by BBQ Exchange, DJ T.D. Layman of Sound Enforcement, Musicians Allodolla Quartet from Charlottesville High School Orchestra, Photographer Aaron Watson, Wedding cake by Sweethaus, Hair Stylist Brianna Adams, Make-up Artist Seema Khannam, flowers by Verde Natural Florist, Officiant Rev. Carolyn Barkley, Buses by UTS Charters and Skyline Tent Company. Click here to view Part I of photos by Aaron Watson. Click here to view Part II of photos by Aaron Watson. Click here to see this wedding featured in Rustic Wedding Chic.
Well, it was a long year in waiting for me, but Saturday, June 7th was finally here which meant the beautiful outdoor wedding for Natalie and Dan and... Bananas Foster! When Natalie & Dan first came to tour at Keswick Vineyards for their Charlottesville wedding venue, we immediately hit it off. When they told me all about their vision for their wedding day, I got so excited. Natalie and Dan have done a lot of traveling and are foodies and they wanted to incorporate that into their wedding day. They wanted to make sure that their guests got to experience some of their favorite brandies and foods from the South including Bananas Foster (my favorite dessert!). They also created a New Orleans feel from the parasols to the musicians. During cocktail hour, guests enjoyed some good old New Orleans style of music performed by Millstreet Ramblers while enjoying some mint juleps. Some guests took a little time out to watch the Triple Crown with their drinks. Guests also got to enjoy a wine tasting of Keswick Vineyards Virginia wines during cocktail hour. Skyline Tent did a beautiful job hanging lanterns from the Sperry tent. Special thanks to Natalie's parents (and dog) for being such a delight to get to know and work with over the past year. I hope your daughter's wedding was all and even more than you ever imagined. Please come back to visit! Special thanks to the following vendors for doing an exceptional job: Catering by C&O (thanks for the dessert!), Event Planner Cinda Hoege of White Birch Events, DJ Derek Tobler, Musicians Millstreet Ramblers, Photographer Sarah Jane Winter, Videographer Ian's Creations, LLC., Hair & Make-up by Bristles Hair Design & Day Spa, Flowers were all done by Zoya (Mother of the bride), Officiant Van Sowerby, Transportation by A&A Limousine, LLC. and Skyline Tent Company. Click here to watch their video by Ian's Creations, LLC.
We never intended on making a Verdejo wine; the fruit was sold off to another winery because, quite frankly, we felt the wine to be uninspiring and rather bland. It so happened that when half our Viognier crop was lost due to the Easter Weekend frost in 2006, we kept the Verdejo fruit out of necessity, and so began one of our most successful and widely anticipated wines we currently produce. Such was the response to this unknown grape from Spain's Rueda region, that we have increased our acreage thereof and see it is one of our most important wines moving forward.
If Viognier and Sauvignon Blanc had a baby, it would be called Verdejo.
The wine is sharp and focused with mineral accents and vibrant flavors of stone fruits with some salty undertones, yet it has a textural quality and richness I associate with Viognier. It is versatile with a variety of dishes, but easily enjoyed on it's own during the warmer months. I have fallen in love with this grape and the wine and am very excited about the future.
In the harvest of 2012, following the rather challenging harvest that was 2011 [note the subtle sarcasm], we harvested perfectly ripe Verdejo. We also picked some Viognier intended for our entry level Les Vent d'Anges brand Viognier the same day. Harvest went well, the fruit was clean and 12 hours later the fruit was sitting in cold storage. I had a plan for processing and the press was prepped and cleaned for receiving the fruit the next morning; home time!
Do you ever get a feeling when something is not quite right, a feeling in your gut that the stars are just not aligned perfectly? Driving to the winery I had such a feeling, no reason why but just did not feel too good. I am pretty sure a refrigerated truck is supposed to cool fruit, imagine my surprise and few choice words when I discovered that our truck was actually heating the fruit and that the inside temperature was 88 degrees, LOVELY.
Previous processing plan out of the window, new plan: toss the Viognier and Verdejo fruit together into the press and then deal with it in the winery. And so ladies and gentleman, our newest addition, the V², was born. Our intention with this wine was to try and mimic the previous Verdejo versions that were more Sauvignon Blanc in character, showcasing green apple and stone fruit tones. I think what ultimately saved the day was the fact that our LVD Viognier grapes are picked a little earlier and do not exhibit the floral and tropical aromas usually associated with the grape.
The blend came out at 51% Verdejo and 49% Viognier and after fermentation and racking, started to really grow on me. The problem with wine nowadays is that consumers want what they had previously and the challenge with this wine was to re-introduce and re-brand the Verdejo grape and wine. We decided to bottle this wine early since it was 100% tank fermented, thereby giving it a few months in bottle before releasing it. The name V² represents the two varieties that make up the wine and with much trepidation was released to the public in early April.
Instant success; you loved it! It was quickly snapped up in the tasting room and then we started getting asked "When will the next one be available?". Oh No, no next one, this was a once off thing due to a mistake in the ..., who am I kidding? The next one is being released next weekend the 14th of June. How do you deny your customers? You don't. We make wine for people to enjoy and get excited about and if they loved the first V², they will love the latest version.
The blend is Viognier heavy this year, with only 19% Verdejo and as such the wine is richer and more complex. The Verdejo plays an important role in that it provides the acidity and minerality, that ultimately keeps the flashier Viognier in check. The wine was fermented in tank and saw no oak. I used a South African yeast, widely used for Sauvignon Blanc production. After minimal handling, protein stabilization and sterile filtration, the wine was bottled April 5th 2014. After 2 months in the bottle, it makes its long awaited and much anticipated appearance in our tasting room. It is a different style than the previous version and each year the blend will differ slightly, what remains the same is that this wine is just good.
I love the V², I really do and my hope is that when you taste it, you will love it too. Let me know what you think.
Congratulations to Terri & Drew who were married on Saturday, May 31st, at Keswick Vineyards. Once again Mother Nature provided us with perfect Virginia weather for this all outdoor event. Terri is a very detailed person and she had every detail of their Charlottesville wedding day specified. Her and Drew had heard a band perform at a street festival and knew they wanted them to perform for their wedding here. The Turpentiners, from Pittsburg, performed for the ceremony and cocktail hour. Terri & Drew had also hired a new caterer, L'etoile, that did an outstanding job. Their service was definitely the most memorable moment of this wedding for me. Terri & Drew decided on a plated dinner for their guests. L'etoile staff would come out circling the tent to arrive at the designated table, wait until all staff members were ready behind each guests and on cue, would present the plate to the females first and then wait a moment and present the 2nd plate to the gentlemen. The staff then would pause and then circle back out of the tent. What presentation that everyone their couldn't help but to stop and take notice of. Hats off to Vickie and the rest of the L'etoile staff for giving everyone that "WOW" moment. Terri & Drew had also brought in a cigar roller who prepared cigars on site as guests enjoyed them throughout the evening. And what better way to depart your wedding then to leave in a vintage convertible car! I think Terri & Drew thought of everything and more. Special thanks to all the vendors for doing such an awesome job: Event Coordinator Cinda Hoege of White Birch Events, Caterers L'etoile, DJ John Garland, Photographer Joe Brier from Happy Couple Wedding Photography, Musicians The Turpentiners, Hair & Make-up by Moxie Hair Salon, Florist Blue Ridge Floral, Pastry Chef Anita Gupta at Maliha Creations, Reverend Douglas Forrester, USA Bus Charter and Festive Fare for rentals.