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Cindy Schornberg
 
February 1, 2013 | Cindy Schornberg

Erin and Andrew's July Wedding

Okay, so it was a little warm this July day, but we all made the best of what was a wonderful new marriage and celebration of family and friends. Erin and Andrew melted for each other anyway! Derek Tobler carried the music for the entire day with first the processional of the groom Andrew escorting his Mother Chris, then Kevin, the bride’s brother escorting mother Bonnie to the ceremony location nestled against the vineyard with the blue ridge mountains in the background. Andrew’s Father Skip honored them as the officiant of marriage – how special is that? As Erin’s Father Brian took her gently and lovingly down the aisle, there was not a dry eye. Short and sweet in the heat and on to cocktails while the bride and groom took their golf cart “Limo” ride to the Keswick pond for some cool breeze photos by Jamie of JMK Photos. 20 South Catering had cold beverages for the guests as they enjoyed misting fans on the lawn during lawn games. Dinner was family style and so very beautiful and comfy under Skyline’s Sperry Tent. When everyone was ready to dance, we had a blast with icy washcloths tossed to the dance floor. Sparklers at the end of the night was the best send-off ever as Erin and Andrew rode away in the Albemarle Antique Limousine. Many happy years together Andrew and Erin!!!!
Time Posted: Feb 1, 2013 at 8:53 AM
Cindy Schornberg
 
November 28, 2012 | Cindy Schornberg

Danielle & Tom's Masquerade Wedding

Now that the wedding season (and harvest!) are both finished, we have some time to go back and share some of this years' beautiful Keswick Vineyards weddings with you! We'll start off with Dani and Tom's super fun and unique celebration!  Getting married outdoors during the beautiful fall weekend in Charlottesville before Halloween, Dani and Tom never made any “bones” about their masquerade wedding.  Everyone was in costume to celebrate this union of families and friends, and what fun!  The bridal party carried old fashioned lanterns and the guests looked on in an array of colorful masks.  Dani was stunning in her white gown adorned with black trim and crystals, with her black long train coat and beehive hairstyle setting the tone for her procession to Tom, as Harry Potter’s Hedwig’s Theme played.  The ring bearer was the most unique of all as the remote dog from Doctor Who carried the rings on his tail to the bride and groom at the appropriate time.  From farmers to nuns to Little Red Riding Hood – what a celebration! Congratulations to Danielle & Tom, this was one unique wedding that we loved!!!  Special thanks to the following Charlottesville wedding vendors:  C&O Catering, photographer Dominique Attaway, Albemarle Baking Company, DJ TD Layman, officiant Bruce Watson, transportation by B2B and Skyline Tent Company. Check out some of the beautiful photographs by Dominique Attaway Photography below!
Time Posted: Nov 28, 2012 at 8:54 AM
Stephen Barnard
 
September 7, 2012 | Stephen Barnard

Our New Cabernet Sauvignon

Make no mistake, Virginia is a pretty tough climate in which to grow grapes, at least to grow grapes that allow you to make world class wines. True, we can produce wines of that caliber in vintages such as 2007, 2009 and 2010, but in vintages such as 2003 and 2011, forget about it. Those years are more an endeavor of making cleaner wines than wines that can stand along side the very best of California and France.

So when great vintages come along and mother nature combines with all the other variables to produce fruit of that quality, the winemaker needs to take full advantage and convert that fruit potential into a fantastic wine.

This weekend marks the official release of our 2009 Keswick Vineyards Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, a wine that I think ranks in our top three ever produced here at the estate.Keswick Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve

2009 for me was a fantastic growing season. It was long and temperate and we were able to pick fruit at the optimum ripeness, which meant good sugars, developed flavors in the grapes and, more importantly for Cabernet, ripe tannins. The winemaking protocol was actually pretty simple. We cooled the fruit and sorted after de-stemming to remove any unwanted material including green grapes, jacks, stems and leaves that bypassed the destemmer. The fruit was then transferred to open top stainless steel tanks, warmed up, and allowed to undergo native fermentation without the addition of commercial yeast. BAM we had good wine.

The philosophy here at Keswick is to produce wines that reflect the season, the area, and the soil in which it was grown. The French refer to this concept and notion as Terroir. For me it means that what you taste in a glass of wine is a product of nature and not of manipulation by me the winemaker, same thing really. And so it was, after fermentation and pressing, the wine was barreled down to French oak barrels and allowed to mature for 22 months with very little manipulation (other than the occassional taste, purely for quality control purposes of course). Surely, there are a lot more decisions that go into making wine, but if you break it down- what made the 2009 Cabernet a stunner was, truthfully, the fruit quality which ultimately forged this quality wine. I just tried to stay out of the way and not mess it up.

So it is truly a joy to be able to release this wine to the public on Saturday. I hope you will like it as much as we do here. It is 100% Cabernet grown right here on the estate. It is definitely New World in style, displaying the typical aromas of plum and cassis backed by ripe integrated tannins (which is a fancy way of saying that although there is oak, it is not too dominant to suppress the fruit). The wine also has a fair bit of acid which really keeps the wine fresh and focused. As far as drinkability, you are good to go- but if you would like to lay it down, I truly think this wine has the stuffing to age for another 8-10 years. It is dark and inky, brooding yet seductive, a wine that we are very proud of.

Okay, I have to brag a bit here in order to get some hype. It was one of the wines that was selected to be in the Governors Case, following the Virginia Governors Cup Wine Competition. That meant it was rated amongst the top twelve Virginia wines for that year. It also received a double gold medal at the San Francisco International Wine Competition, the largest and arguably the most influential competition in the States [as taken from their website]. To put into perspective how well this wine did, there were only 5% of the total entries awarded the double gold, and in the Cabernet category (which was the most competitve category in the competition based on the number of entries), bested some Napa Valley wines that retail for $200 a bottle. Okay, competitions are what they are, but this is like me beating Tiger Woods at match play in golf. For an itty bitty Virginia Cabernet to wine this award says something about the quality of the wine and also the quality that Virginia has in producing world class reds.

So ladies and gentleman, come by on Saturday to taste what we think is one the best reds we have ever produced in our short wine making history. We're smack in the middle of the 2012 harvest (which I am hoping will produce more high calibur wines!), so I will be working away in the cellar racking the whites- feel free to come back and let me know what you think of the Cabernet!

Cheers

Stephen

Winemaker

Keswick Vineyards

Time Posted: Sep 7, 2012 at 8:42 AM
Cindy Schornberg
 
August 24, 2012 | Cindy Schornberg

Military Vineyard Wedding

The natural beauty of Keswick Vineyards and the Edgewood Estate has never been so happily matched as with the lovely, unassuming elegance of a Naval wedding, as was the happy occasion earlier this month. Carole and Brent, a giddily-in-love couple, had the privilege of being Keswick Vineyard's first military wedding, and the level of class, elegance, and attention to detail that they created throughout their entire event left everyone hoping it is not the last military wedding to occur on these grounds. Shindig Weddings & Events helped design and plan a lovely Southern wedding, complete with the elegant details of provided parasols for the guests (to shield from the evening sun) to peaches provided at each place setting {a nod to the origin of the bride's middle name}, to a jaw-dropping-beautifully sword-arch upon the couple's recessional. In homage to the bride's Japanese heritage, 1,001 origami paper cranes were lovingly crafted by the bride's friends and hung for display, and all of the menu and beverage choices were hand-selected from local sources. As Carole and Brent fell in love in Hawaii, several Hawaiian influences were incorporated, but none more resoundingly appreciated than the Kona coffee, served over ice, that was brought out as the dancing ensued! With a warm summer's night, Keswick Vineyard's staff helped make the evening comfortable for everyone, providing cool towels for the wedding party at the ceremony and throwing out iced towels onto the dance floor as the night kicked into high gear -- this was Southern hospitality at its finest! As the couple bid goodnight and exited into a lovely town car tied with dozens of raucously celebratory tin cans, hundreds of "Virginia is for Lovers" cookies waited for their guests upon their return. At the end of the night, a beautiful wedding had been celebrated, a fabulous party had been enjoyed, and a sweet young marriage had begun. Special thanks to the following vendors: Meghan Streit and her team from Sindig Weddings & Events, Beggars Banquet Catering, DJ Derek Tobler, wedding dress by Isis Bridal, John Cachero Photography, Citrus Ceremonies Videography, Cake by Pastry Love, Hair & make-up by Jeanne Cusick and venue & award winning wines by Keswick Vineyards.

Time Posted: Aug 24, 2012 at 8:55 AM
Cindy Schornberg
 
August 1, 2012 | Cindy Schornberg

Kathryn & Philip's May wedding

Kathryn & Philip held their wedding reception at Keswick Vineyards on May 28th, 2012.  I found it funny how some of their guest that were from Jordan found our Virginia May weather chilly for them.  Apparently in Jordan it was 120 degrees so our upper 80's, low 90's, was a bit chilly for them.  I really like how Kathryn & Philip did a really long table for the wedding party.  It really looked stunning under the Sperry Tent as you can see with the pictures below.  Special thanks to the following vendors for their help in making their wedding day extra special:  C&O Catering, Rob Garland Photographer, Kirby Martin Videographer & Sugar Magnolias Florist.
Time Posted: Aug 1, 2012 at 8:57 AM
Cindy Schornberg
 
July 5, 2012 | Cindy Schornberg

One hot rehearsal and the magic umbrellas.....

It was a dark and stormy night… no really.  The night before Meg and Larry’s wedding we experienced one of the strangest storms ever, and I have seen a lot.  No one saw it coming but it uprooted trees and knocked out power throughout the state for days.  We knew we had a lot to do the next morning  to get ready for the celebration, but we found the help we needed and got the job done.   By the time the bride and bridesmaids arrived for hair styling and make-up at lunchtime, there was barely any visible signs of a storm.  We carried the entire event with generator power, never missing a beat.  Many of the guests never even knew the power was out that day. I asked Meg, who is a very unique kinda gal (Larry is a lucky guy!), is this bizarre activity happening because you are such a daring redhead?  She just laughed and said “Perhaps so!”  She was so lovely in her layered cream gown with a tan sash.  The heat of the day did not phase her beauty and Larry could not wait as she came down the aisle.  They both had a glow about them that made the day extra special and so very worth the extra efforts to make it perfect for them.   Their families were also glowing with pride for the union they had witnessed and the anticipation of the many years of happiness they will share. Guests were escorted to the East Lawn as an alternate ceremony location for extra shade, and also had lovely parasols and fans matching Meg’s summer colors to help beat the heat.  They feasted on tender beef and rockfish dishes served family-style by 20 South Catering, with an assortment of pies from Family Ties & Pies for dessert.  The extra special touch to this wedding was the wine served.  Meg & Larry had participated in Keswick Vineyards blending party and won!  They were able to serve the blending wine they came up with called Consensus which featured their picture on the label.  How’s that for bragging rights at your wedding?  Then came the first dance – hot!  Larry in his fedora and Meg had changed her tan sash for sassy black lace.  They surely got the crowd going for the rest of the night. We also refined the plan on Keswick’s “magic umbrellas”.  There was a chance of more storms in the forecast and Keswick Vineyards provides golf umbrellas, about 4 dozen of them, as needed.  These seem to keep the rain away for the events and sure enough, Meg and Larry never got wet. Congratulations to Meg and Larry and welcome to the Keswick Vineyards family, as our newest wedding couple and winemakers! Special thanks to the following vendors:  Barb Wired LLC Event Planners, 20 South Catering, DJ Derek Tobler, Blue Ridge Floral, Family Ties & Pies, Terra Voce, Ralph Alswang photographer, Virginia Glenn hair & make-up, Camryn Limo and Skyline Tent Company.

Time Posted: Jul 5, 2012 at 8:58 AM
Stephen Barnard
 
June 28, 2012 | Stephen Barnard

Keswick Vineyards, and the year thus far.

I have been reminded by my wife that my blogging career has taken a serious turn for the worse of late, and that I have shirked my duties. My apologies. It is hard to believe that 2012 is almost half over and that we are around 60 days from starting the 2012 harvest. Where has the time gone?

After the challenging 2011 harvest, we duly set about pruning the vineyard after Christmas with the intention of building the vineyard back slowly. This was done by reducing the number of buds on the vine, and also by a new pruning method of cane pruning. In the past we have spur pruned, whereby 3-4  spurs [each having 2-3 buds] are left on each of the cordons. Cane pruning means laying down a one year old shoot, leaving 6-8 nodes, simply establishing a new cordon each and every year.  The primary reason for cane pruning, was to allow us to remove cordons and shoots that showed incidences of phomopsis. Phomopsis Viticola overwinters as Pycnidia on infected wood between one and three years old. When the Pycnidia are wet, the exude spores that are splashed onto developing shoots. These spores then germinate in warm temperatures, and under conditions of high humidity, infection can take place within a few hours. This is one of the challenges facing growers as fruit and the rachis [main axis of the inflorescence of Vitis vinifera] can become infected throughout during the growing season. When fruit starts to ripen in the latter stages of the growing season, the pathogen becomes active leading to fruit rot. Symptoms include browning and shriveling, almost resembling black rot. Pruning is done during winter while the vineyard is in a dormancy phase.

This year however, mother nature thought that 70 degree days were called for, great for pruning in shorts, not so great when it leads to an early bud break.  We started noticing some cuts starting to bleed [due to osmotic forces pushing liquid from the roots], which is one of the early signs that vines are starting to break dormancy. Our vineyard duly had bud break March 22nd, while we were still frantically trying to complete the pruning of the vineyard. One of the issues of an early bud break is the susceptibility of the vines to spring frosts, and true to form, Mother Nature duly obliged and threw seven days at us where temperatures were below freezing.

We experienced a radiation freeze, marked by beautifully clear skies and no wind. Under these conditions, air stratifies near the ground and radiant heat loss occurs from the  ground and vine tissues. 4 am is such an un-appreciated time of morning, well when you are forced to get up, you just convince yourself it is a great time. Wind machines were duly run, frost dragons were making their way through the vineyards and raging fires were tended to, all trying to raise the ambient temperature to protect our vineyard. We did lose some fruit, estimated at about 5% in the Chardonnay but for us that is a minor miracle. Flowering and fruit set duly occurred with no major issues, and I am happy to report that we have a full crop thus far.

I touched on the fact that we have been experimenting the slightly different training techniques and since last year gave us no good indication of how effective our new systems are, we are once again trying to grow in the fruit in a  slightly different way. Conventionally vines are trained vertically in a series of catch wires, aptly named the Vertical Shoot Position [V.S.P]. we however are experimenting with a split system or divided canopy, whereby only 50% of the shoots are trained vertically while the rest of the canopy is allowed to hang down. There are a couple of thought processes with regards to this system. Our primary soil is clay, which leads to pretty serious vegetative growth. In our climate  marked by warm temperatures and high humidity, we have to be mindful of diseases. By splitting the canopy we feel we can create and an environment that allows great air movement through the canopy, better sunlight exposure which ultimately suppresses the disease pressure and more importantly riper fruit with better flavors.
Our best fruit, which grow on some of our poorest soils are still trained vertically, where vigor and retention of water does not pose any serious threat to the quality of the vines and thus the fruit. At this point in the vineyard we are trying to ensure the vines and vineyard are in balance, ensuring that we leave the optimum amount of fruit that will be harvested at ideal picking parameters. We are currently pulling some leaves on the East side of the vines, exposing the fruit on the cooler side as sunburn is a serious threat with temperatures forecasted to reach the 100 degree mark in the next few days. A lot of people ask us about the attitude towards diseases and what we do to combat it. The honest answer is that we have a detailed spray schedule worked out, whereby we spray what is needed, when is needed and most importantly how little is needed. It would be fantastic to talk about organic grape growing, probably even more marketable would the term byoynamically farmed. The truth of the matter s that Virginia's climate [in my opinion] does not allow the wine grower to farm organically. We would lose our crop to everything ranging from Downy and Powdery Mildew, to Black Rot, Japanese Beetles and aphids.  We rotate sprays so that the vineyard does not build up any resistance and we ensure that our sprays are stopped well in advance, so that no residual spray materials come in when the fruit is harvested.
 
The vineyard looks in great shape right now, we have plenty of fruit, no diseases and more importantly I think we have the balance right. Unfortunately a lot can change between now and harvest, as the weather has the final say and pretty much determines if we can one day look back on 2012 and say that it was one heck of a vintage.  All we can do is chug along and look after what we can. I am cautiously optimistic about this years harvest, what will be the 11th harvest at Keswick Vineyards. I will chat with you soon about some of the exciting wines to be released in the upcoming months.
Cheers
Stephen
Winemaker
Keswick Vineyards
Time Posted: Jun 28, 2012 at 8:44 AM
Cindy Schornberg
 
May 22, 2012 | Cindy Schornberg

Megan & Jay tie the knot!

On May 6th, Megan & Jay were united in marriage at Keswick Vineyards.  This was a destination wedding with guest coming from many different states.  It was funny running into the bride, her parents and bridesmaids  while I was out in Charlottesville myself getting some ice cream with my kids.  I had just met Megan's father earlier that day so it was unexpected to run into him again later that day.  It was nice to see them getting out to explore the beautiful city of Charlottesville. The weather was incredible this day.  With the early Spring we were experiencing this year, the vineyard was exploding with growth.  What a beautiful natural backdrop it made for the ceremony.  The aisle was lined with bouquets of flowers tied to the end chairs.  After the ceremony those flowers were then hung on the center poles inside the Sperry tent used for the reception.  What a nice touch that was.   While the wedding party was busy taking photo's, guest enjoyed themselves by playing corn hole games while enjoying cocktails & hors d'oeuvres.  Inside the gazebo was the wedding cake and desserts.  This area was kept off limits to the guest by draping sheers at the entrances.  Later in the evening the drapes were pulled back to unveil the delicious desserts for their guest to enjoy.  Special thanks to the following vendors who helped make this an amazing wedding day for Megan & Jay:  20 South Catering, Amber Karson Events, T.D. Layman as DJ, florals by Kelly Green, photographer Natalie Bell and Albemarle Limousine for safely transporting all the guest from their hotels in buses.
Time Posted: May 22, 2012 at 8:59 AM
Cindy Schornberg
 
May 20, 2012 | Cindy Schornberg

Katy & Tony's Wedding Day

Congratulations to Katy & Tony who were married at Keswick Vineyards on May 11th. I remember when Katy & Tony first came to view Keswick Vineyards as a venue for their wedding, we immediately hit it off when we realized we both had Yorkie dogs. They also liked the fact that we are very animal friendly and host "Yappy Hours" every Sunday in our tasting room where people can bring their animals inside our tasting room and animal shelters are here for those who want to adopt. When Katy & Tony heard that my Yorkie went missing and was finally found after being hit by a car, I was touched that they sent me a sympathy card. When they came back for a visit they also brought me this beautiful frame that had my dog's picture in it with a place for me to put his collar. How sweet was that? This was just another example to me on what beautiful couples get married here and how we really do make that personal connection with them. Katy & Tony couldn't have picked a more beautiful day to get married. The sun was out but we had a gentle breeze with no humidity so things couldn't have been better for an outdoor wedding. With our couples having 12 hours here, Tony & his groomsmen enjoyed relaxing while playing pool in the Carriage House and croquet out on the lawn while Katy & her bridesmaids got ready. Katy was given away by her father. What a breathtaking bride she was with her beautiful white wedding dress. Her bouquet had colors of blue and yellow which accented the aqua blue dresses the bridesmaids wore. After the ceremony performed by Officiant Buddy Marston, guests proceeded to the East Lawn for cocktails and hors d'oeuvres. IK Catering provided the food for the evening which included some good old southern country cooking with such fixings as pulled BBQ, corn bread, cole slaw, mac & cheese and grits with shrimp & bacon. Yummy!!! Centerpieces were kept simple with yellow flowers & candles with pictures of them at different vacation spots to identify guest's tables. On their sweetheart table they had framed pictures of their two dogs. Guests danced the night away to music provided by DJ Pauly Madison. All these moments were captured by photographer Daniel McGarrity and videographer AJ Chavar.   To read photographer Daniel McGarrity's blog about this wedding and to see some of his photo's, please click here. To Katy & Tony; thank you so much for having your wedding here at Keswick Vineyards. It was a pleasure working with you and making your wedding day extra special. We look forward to you coming back, with your dogs, to celebrate your anniversaries here with us. May you enjoy a life time of happiness together.  Click here to view their video.
Time Posted: May 20, 2012 at 9:01 AM
Cindy Schornberg
 
May 18, 2012 | Cindy Schornberg

May 12th, Stephanie & Alastair Wed!

Every couple wants perfection for their wedding. When Stephanie and Alastair said they wanted to do it all over again from start to finish, we knew we had experienced the perfect day.  Stephanie of Hispanic descent and Al, being Scottish, made for great anticipation as we built on the varying themes and cultures.  With temperatures in the low 80’s and wonderful sunshine at Keswick Vineyards, guests strolled to the front of the Keswick Estate home for the ceremony overlooking the vineyards and the Blue Ridge Mountains. The wedding party of five bridesmaids in lovely cornflower blue cocktail dresses and seven groomsmen in a mix of dark suits and traditional Scottish kilts, awaited the arrival of flower girl, Maya, ring bearer, Alistair, and finally, the bride.  While a guitarist played, Stephanie, in a unique ivory mermaid gown, walked down the aisle with her parents to meet Alastair, proudly dressed in his kilt.  The congregation cheered as they recessed to the glorious sound of bagpipes playing! The families chose Keswick Vineyards as the venue, not only for the beautiful estate setting and personal service, but also for the wine.  Their guests were traveling from all over the world; Scotland, France, Canada, Pennsylvania, Texas and more.   They knew the wine served would be an important part of the celebration and they were right.  Catering and service by The Event Co. was impeccable. The traditional wedding cake was adorned with a custom-made bride and groom that featured Stephanie’s exact hairstyle and Alistair’s kilt. Décor was as bright and beautiful as the day; in shades of blue, yellow, orange and white.  Centerpieces featured clear glass and terra cotta containers with succulents planted in dry pinto beans along with candles and more succulents accented with white and yellow flowers. Al and Stephanie most certainly win the first dance endurance prize!  They entertained the crowd for more than 5 minutes dancing to Gloria Estefan’s Ayer.   Al denies practicing ahead of time and gives all the credit to Stephanie for being a wonderful dancer and teacher.  You kept up pretty well there, Al!  Everyone danced the night away to the tunes of Andy Wilfong and Party Masters DJ. Congratulations to Stephanie and Alastair and their families!  We wish you many years of happiness and we look forward to seeing you often at Keswick Vineyards! Special thanks to the following vendors for making this wedding extra special:  Barb Wired LLC Event Planner, Catering by The Event Co., wedding cake by Cakes Unlimited, florals by Verde Naturals, hair & make-up by Moxie, DJ Andy Wilfong of Party Masters, Guitarist Mike D'Antoni, Bagpipes by Guy Blandon and Leah & Mark Photography from Atlanta. Click here to read the  blog written by their photographer Mark and watch his video and view some of his photo's from the evening.  Thank you Mark for sharing with us!
Time Posted: May 18, 2012 at 9:01 AM