11 Years In The Making
Nicole & Steve finally had their vineyard wedding at Keswick Vineyards in Charlottesville, VA on Sunday, May 25th in front of family and friends. After an eleven year courtship, the day had finally come! Nicole is one of those brides that is into every detail. All her hard, creative work paid off for everything looked beautiful for this Virginia winery wedding. She chose Tiffany's blue to be her accent color mixed with purple. Instead of the traditional buffet dinner, Nicole and Steve had food stations for their guests. I love this idea for it prevents one long line and it gets your guests up and out of their seats and moving around and mingling with others while choosing the food station that is best for them. Groovin' Gourmet did a great job providing this service and included a delicious pastry table at the end of the night. One thing I saw at this wedding that I haven't seen done this way was Nicole created a book that had pages with envelopes glued to them. She then had cards that guest would fill out with suggestions on what makes a successful marriage. They would insert those cards into the envelopes and now Nicole and Steve had a book filled with great advice. Thanks to all the Charlottesville wedding vendors that night for doing such a great job and having fun while doing it: Groovin' Gourmet Catering, Barb Wired Event Planning, Photographer Ken Pak, DJ Stroud, Verde Natural Florist, Officiant Brian Purcell, Make-up Artist Anne Kibler of Charlottesville Makeup Artist, Pastry Chef Favorite Cakes, rentals by Festive Fare and Camryn Limousine.
Sarah & Han - That's What Movies Are Made From
Congratulations to Sarah and Han who had their Charlottesville, Virginia wedding at Keswick Vineyards on Saturday, May 24th. They chose a new location for their ceremony in front of the Edgewood Estate near the vineyard but in the middle of the main drive-way. I understand the reason for that selection was because life is a winding road and the winding drive-way represented that. Clever huh? As you can see by the photos, it is a beautiful vineyard wedding location. Han's is in the film industry so he found a way to incorporate that into their wedding. He made two helmet cams that guests wore throughout the day/evening recording every moment for them. I hope I get a chance to see the film he makes from that. Leo, their dog, was also part of their big day. This wedding had one guest that is extra special to us, the previous owners of Edgewood Estate! How neat is that to have the people you bought your home from come back 14 years later for a friends wedding? Pretty neat! Guest enjoyed an amazing dinner prepared by C&O Catering including chicken, fish, beef and many other dishes that were so flavorful. To finish off the evening after dancing, the couple drove away in our golf cart that was decorated for them. Thank you to the following Charlottesville wedding vendors to an amazing night of food & music: Catering by C&O, Wedding Coordinator Jennifer Hamlin from Events With Panache, DJ John Garland, Musicians Plum Blossom Trio, Photographer Koury Angelo, Hair & Make-up by Bristles, Florist Ted's Last Stand, Wedding Cake by Paradox Pastry, Officiant Randy Golliday and transportation by Albemarle Transportation.
Tears Were Flowing At This Virginia Wedding
OK, what a start to our triple wedding Memorial Day weekend. First off, thank you Mother Nature for providing us such a beautiful day for this Virginia wedding. Lauren & Joshua were married at Keswick Vineyards in Charlottesville, VA on Friday, May 23rd. The love shared between these two and their families could be felt by everyone attending. Let me start with Lauren's entrance. The entire wedding party and guests were waiting for the usual entrance of a bride coming from the back but not Lauren. Her and her father were driven up the vineyard drive way in a vintage 1940's Packard car! Such a classy entrance. I think everyone was taken by this. What a site to see the car slowly making its way to the wedding ceremony location, having the driver open her door, then having her father help her out to walking down the aisle. Doesn't get much better than that! Joshua's parents performed the wedding ceremony. Obviously, it doesn't get more personal and emotional than that! As Lauren and Joshua read there vows to each other, the tears were flowing. Such a touching moment to see Joshua' s father extend his hand on Joshua's shoulder to show support and then to see his Mother, her sister and even Lauren supporting each other through this very emotional moment. Was one of the moments that gives you goose bumps by witnessing such love and support. Another beautiful moment was including communion for all during the ceremony with both sets of parents and the couple serving it. This wedding was just one of those that you just couldn't help but feel the love by all. I've never seen both sets of parents being so connected to one another and so happy to be one family now. Thank you for allowing us at Keswick Vineyards to witness such a beautiful wedding and thank you to the following Charlottesville wedding vendors for their hard work: Catering by The Local, Event Coordinator Jennifer Hamlin of Events With Panache, DJ T.D. Layman of Sound Enforcement, Musician Joe Terranova, Photographer Tracey Sanders Photography, Make-up and Hair by Judy Hayward from On Location Bridal, Florist Kathy Forrest of Forrest/Sasser Floral Design, Albemarle Baking Company, Albemarle Limousine for the vintage car and MS Events for rentals. Click here to view photos by Tracey Sanders Photography. Click here to watch their video by Jeremy Michell's videos.
Rachael & Tucker FINALLY Get Married!!!!
Well, it was a LONG day coming but it finally happened. Rachael & Tucker were married at Keswick Vineyards on Saturday, May 17th. The weather was just perfect with sunny, blue skies with big, puffy clouds. Rachael & her Mother spent a great deal of time planning this wedding and all their hard work definitely showed. I think the one who was most amazed by all their work was Rachael's father. I could feel his excitement through out the day as time for the ceremony got closer and closer. He hadn't seen his daughter yet and you could just tell how excited he was for that moment to see her. Realizing his excitement as he waited for Rachael to make her appearance, I decided to create a "first look" moment for the two of them. Just before walking her down the aisle, I had her father turn away while Rachael came from behind and tapped him on his shoulder. When he turned to see her, well, lets just say he had that moment every Father dreams about. Moments like that make my job so rewarding. That was definitely my most memorable moment from this wedding. Special thanks to the following vendors for making Rachael & Tucker's long awaited Charlottesville wedding day so special: Cater 2 Events Catering, DJ Rob Jefferson, Musicians Luke Saunders, Photographer Sarah Saunders, Makeup Artist Liz Allums, Pearls Bakery, Officiant Joe Marks and MS Events for rentals.
Elaine & Jonathan's Wedding Day
What a beautiful Charlottesville winery wedding Elaine & Jonathan had at Keswick Vineyards on Saturday, May 10th. The day started off not so great with rain. It definitely looked like we were going to have to use our rain plan for this day and we did. Fortunately, with Keswick Vineyards on-site Sperry Tent, the rain just provided more opportunities for a beautiful ceremony under the tent as you can see from the photos below. Guest either sat on the dance floor or at their tables and witnessed this beautiful union. The rain did stop just before the ceremony which allowed for beautiful photos afterwards. Elaine is Korean and Jonathan is Chinese so the blend of these two cultures was so lovely to see. I really enjoyed some of Elaine's family that had flown in from Korea and wore their Korean gowns. It was such a treat to see these ladies perform a Korean folklore song and dance later in the evening. The most memorable moment for me from this wedding had to be when Jonathan and his sister performed for everyone on their violin and cello. You could have heard a pin drop while they played. Not everyday you get to witness such talent. Oh, did I mention how much dancing went on???? These guests just couldn't stop dancing and boy did they have the moves! So many incredible, memorable moments from this wedding so thank you so much for allowing Keswick Vineyards to be part of your special day. Special thanks to the following Charlottesville wedding vendors: Caterer Harvest Moon, Event Planner Jane Maples from Amore Events, Photographer Ken Pak & his assistant John, Anthomanic florist, Albemarle Baking Company, DJ Pauly Madison, Officiant Rev. Bhagavan Metro, Photobooth of Charlottesville, Make-up and hair by Moxie Salon, Agoff Limousine for buses, MS events and Skyline Tent Company. Click here to read the blog from Anthomanic Florist.
My Top 5 Keswick Wines of all time!
Customers always want to know what my favorite Keswick wines of all time are, interesting question! I have found out that Virginia is not the easiest place to grow grapes and make wine.
We have vintages that allow you to make world class wines, and you have vintages where you have to use every resource and ounce of experience to make something palatable that will sell in the tasting room. Sometimes creating such a wine is the most rewarding experience, since I can be proud of the wine, knowing the origin and state of the fruit that I had to deal with.
So allow me to give an honorable mention to the 2003 Chardonnay, the only white wine to win a Governors Cup Gold medal in the 2004 competition. The 2003 growing season could only be described in one way: WET! Summer brought sunny, warm weather with only occasional rain., but that all changed when Hurricane Irene passed over the region in late August and the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee came just two weeks later. It helped that our Chardonnays are made in more of a French style, focusing on lower sugar levels and healthy acidity, so maybe the chemistry of the fruit helped to some extent. At any rate, this was a manufactured wine that I could be proud of, having known the growing difficulties and the state of the fruit when it came to the winery. Wine quality is judged by recognition by competitions and wine writers, and, more importantly, by your customers. So here follows in my opinion the best 5 wines I have made at Keswick Vineyards.
 2007 Chardonnay Chardonnay has been the one wine that we have tinkered with over the years, trying to hone in on a style that we think best represents our site. We now focus on tank fermented Chardonnays that are matured in oak for 8-10 months prior to bottling. I was delighted when I looked back at my notes and realized the 2007 was fermented in tank and matured in oak, 50% French and 50% American. I remember loving this wine off the get go, but had the chance to re-taste the wine in February at our Open That Bottle event. The 2007 showed the best of all the Chardonnay wines in the flight and was just gorgeous. The oak was so well integrated with the fruit and the wine had developed some gorgeous baking spice aromas such as cinnamon and clove. The hallmark of this wine though was the texture. The wine was layered and complex, but bright enough due to the acidity. After 7 years in the bottle, this wine has developed and and is reaching optimal drinking age. If you have the wine you could probably hold onto it for another year or two, but drinking it now will not be a disappointment. One of my top favorite white wines of all time here. Honorable Mention: 2008 Chardonnay Reserve and 2012 Signature Series [needs more time]
 2009 Viognier It is no secret that I think 2009 was one of the great vintages of the past 10 years, producing as equally impressive wines as the 2007 and 2010 vintage. 2009 was a growers dream- a long growing season with fruit coming in perfectly ripe and clean, recipes for great wine. When you have fruit of this quality, the job of the winemaker is to represent in a glass all the good things the fruit has to offer. We made this wine as naturally as possible, the fruit was gently pressed and the juice was settled in tank for 2 days prior to being transferred to neutral French oak barrels. Fermentation took place naturally [without the addition of yeast] and was completed in 10 weeks, after which the wine got it's first sulfur addition to block the secondary fermentation. Other than filtration and protein stabilization, nothing else was done to this wine. Viognier is a gorgeous aromatic wine, and this example just exemplified all those characteristics. The oak came across in a brioche or almond manner, the acidity kept the wine bright and light on it's feet. The flavors were tropical with anise and apple undertones and it remains just as beautiful today as it did back then. Viognier wines are typically not knows as wines that you can age, but we have quite a few examples that defy that logic. This remains one of my favorite Viognier wines ever made at Keswick. http://www.winespectator.com/webfeature/show/id/43147 Honorable Mentions: 2002 and 2010 Viognier Reserve
 2007 Cabernet Franc Reserve I have never been the biggest fan of Cabernet Franc, I find many of them to be under ripe and and packed with green bell pepper flavors. Some like that style and that is quite okay, but for me it's not an attractive quality in wine. I do not get the opportunity to work with 25 brix grapes all the time and when the opportunity presented itself to me in 2007, we were not going to let it go to waste. We aged this wine for 22 months in brand new American oak barrels and bottled the wine unfined and unfiltered in August 2009. Re-visiting the tasting notes, I found notes where I just said "WOW"- enough said. Time in the bottle has only improved this wine. I recently opened the wine for my brother in law at my house, a huge fan of Cabernet Franc. When someone gets that giddy about a wine, you know you have something special. The wine is still massively huge, with sweeter oak kept in check by ripe tannins with the underlying spicy character of the grape in the background. The wine has a dominant coffee note on the palate but cracked black pepper and dark fruits are all there too. This wine is incredibly complex and can probably see another 3-5 years in the bottle, but it is hard to not open it now. Honorable Mention: 2013 Cabernet Franc from barrel [this wine will be incredible when bottled]
 2007 Heritage: 80% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Merlot Many consider 2007 to be the best vintage in Virginia, and it would be hard to argue with that considering the quality of the wines made here at Keswick Vineyards. We made a Heritage in 02, 04 and 06, so when presented with the chance to make another in 07 we jumped at the chance. Our Cabernet from that year went on to win the Virginia Governors Cup, but I always loved the Heritage. The blend was classically left bank Bordeaux, with a large portion of Cabernet dominating the blend, complimented by Merlot. We looked at Petite Verdot as a possible blender but thought less was more. Aged for 22 months in French oak barrels and then bottle aged for 15 months prior to release, this was a blockbuster of a wine. I implored customers to hang onto this wine, even though it was tasting wonderfully back then. So how about today? I have tasted this wine on a few occasions and I love it. It has developed a lot of that typical cigar box, leathery characteristics you get from aged Cabernet. The fruit of the Merlot is still lingering, although a touch more red than black. The wine is incredibly supple and dare I say it sexy, yes wines can be sexy. It was hard not to list this as my number one favorite wine of all time but it sure came close. Honorbale Mention: 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon [2009 Governors Cup Winning Wine]
 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon This is going to cause a bit of a ruckus for sure, but it wins as my favorite wine of all time for a few reasons. Firstly it is 100% Cabernet, made up entirely of Estate grown fruit. Virginia is not really known as Cabernet country, and it is used mainly as a blender or has other varietals blended into it. Matured for 22 months in New French oak barrels, this wine was always a beauty. Some wines evolve into something special, this wine always showcased it's purity of fruit and hinted at how good it would be. Coupled with the fact that this wine is a pure expression of our vineyard, it has to be my favorite of all time. It is everything Cabernet should be. It is muscular with great big tannins surrounded by a wall of drippy black fruit, with acidity keeping everything in check and ensuring the wine remains vibrant. It was one of only 22 double gold medal winning Cabernet wines at the San Francisco International Wine Competition, competing in a field of over 500, mostly produced in California. It hints at what Keswick can do in certain years and now it is up to me to ensure we do it on a more consistent basis. If you have this wine, thank your lucky stars that you do. If you have more than one bottle, lets talk because I am always int he market for more. This is not just good Virginian Cabernet, this is just good Cabernet period! Honorable Mention: 2010 Cabernet and 2013 Cabernet from barrel [might be better than the 09] Whatever your top 5, we have been fortunate to make a few that could quite easily and proudly be added, think 10 Merlot, Malbec and Syrah for example. I think we can be incredibly proud about the wines we have produced, and proud that they were produced in Virginia. The trick is now to do them consistently and showcase what Keswick and Virginia is capable of. With the 2013 wines developing in the bottle, my top 5 favorite wines of all time list is sure to change soon. I would be interested to hear what your favorite Keswick wines are! Kindly Stephen Barnard Winemaker
Maggie & Robert's Wedding Day
Congratulations to Maggie & Robert who were married at Keswick Vineyards on Saturday, May 3rd. Thank you Mother Nature for providing us such beautiful weather for this special Charlottesville wedding. Maggie's bouquet is what stands out the most for me from this wedding. Sandy, the owner of Verde Natural Florist, did an outstanding job with the flowers. The colors of the bouquet were simple magnificent! Maggie's mother had sewn wedding rings from other family marriages attached to her bouquet to represent the strength of marriages within that family. What a beautiful gesture. Maggie did most of the decorating herself including designing the arbor used for the ceremony. Thank you to all the vendors for doing such an awesome job: Catering by 20 South, DJ T.D. Layman of Sound Enforcement, Plum Blossom String Quartet, Photographer Cheryl Finnegan with Elisa B Photography, Hair & Make-up Artist Alison Harper & Co., Verde Natural Florist, Favorite Cakes, Officiant Brian Purcell, Rentals by Festive Fare, Carpe Donut, Albemarle Limousine and Real Southern Accents for making the arbor.