It was hard to believe that Saturday, August 30th, 2014 was finally here! With all the planning and visits from Randi & Justin, it was so nice to see their vision become reality. Randi is a horse loving Southern girl and wanted to add those elements to her wedding day. Justin spent days cleaning horse shoes for them to be used as seating assignments for the guests. On the back side was a saying about horse shoes and how you should hang them for good luck. Centerpieces had blue ribbons won from horse shows and on the buffet table was a horse made from greenery. Randi just loves magnolias so she had them incorporated into the centerpieces and her bouquet. I love how her florist used the magnolia leaves in her bouquet. Randi & Justin chose a little different location at Edgewood Estate for their Charlottesville wedding ceremony to take full advantage of the beautiful view of the Estate, fountain, vineyard & mountains. So many fun things that Randi & Justin did to make this wedding so special. One of the highlights from the evening was instead of a traditional wedding cake, they had an ice cream truck! Guests just loved it (so did I!). We wish Randi & Justin a life time of happiness and thanks for sharing a dance with Brian! Thanks to the following vendors for doing such a fantastic job: Caterer Harvest Moon (their short ribs were out of this world!), Day of Coordinator Whitney Abraham, DJ Andy Wilfong of Party Masters, Photographer Tyler Corvin, Verde Natural Florist, Officiant Bart Smith, Charlottesville School Board Buses, Sweet Tooth Ice Cream Truck, Skyline Tent Company, Make-up & Hair Artist Amanda Copeland & Carla Grace Semones. Click here to see photographer Tyler Corvin's blog.
Congratulations to Aylin & Bert who were married at Keswick Vineyards on Sunday, August 31st. I just love how the Sperry tent looked for this wedding. They chose to add bistro lighting to be hung inside the tent. The look that lighting creates is just spectacular! Ayline & Bert also added 2 farm tables to be used as the head table for the wedding party and brought in some lounge furniture to create a sitting area near the bar. There is something about those farm tables that I just personally love. When you add the flowers and greenery it just has such a nice warm feeling to it. Can't wait to see their photos! Special thanks to the following vendors: Caterer C&O, DJ Daryl McLean, Musician Chris Wyton, Photographer Adam Barnes, Florist Petal Flower Company, Hair Stylist Bristles Salon, Cake by Albemarle Baking Company, Officiant Patrick Rainey, Easy Rider Bus, rentals by MS Events and Skyline Tent Company.
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.
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.