A toast to winery weddings

A toast to winery weddings

In wine, there is truth, said Greek poet Alcaeus, in vino veritas. In wineries, there are weddings, said C-VILLE readers in this year’s Best Of balloting, when we asked for votes on where to have a reception. King Family was runner-up and Veritas Vineyards and Winery took the top spot.

After a lovely late morning in beatific Afton, I can tell you why.

Co-owner Patricia Hodson at Veritas Vineyards and Winery, C-VILLE readers’ choice for wedding reception. Facility rental is $5,000, with catering ranging from $80 to $120 a head.

Patricia Hodson greets me in the stately tasting room of the 160-acre farm she bought 10 years ago with her husband Andrew, as a slate grey Weimaraner by the name of Algernon lingers nearby.  The British couple came here by way of Jacksonville, Florida, to find “something that gives us more of a measure of happiness in our lives,” she says. They had had long careers in medicine, with Andrew being a neurosurgeon and she running a medical billing business. Making wine would be the answer to their quest; hosting 120 events a year—half of them weddings—came later.

And it came naturally. To call the site at Veritas exquisite is like saying Aristotle was a pretty smart guy. “Young couples would approach us and say, ‘Do you do weddings,’” she recalls. Sure, she’d respond, why not. “A lot of couples who marry here, fall in love here. Some couples have even proposed here.

“A winery lends itself to romance,” Hodson observes. “There’s a lot of romance in wine and it’s not just about intoxication.”

So for more than two years, on many Saturday nights Hodson and her crew would move out the overstuffed leather couches and other tasting room furniture and repurpose the hearth-focused space to accommodate nuptials.

Then in 2005, with the winemakers requiring an expanded cellar, Veritas made a commitment to events by building a barn-style room atop the cellar. With a capacity of 250 people, it is an elegant space, wrapped floor to ceiling in sheer white draperies by designer Candace DeLoach and appointed with a Jupiter-like disco ball-iron chandelier from blacksmith artist Edward Pelton. Doors throughout the entire winery open to storybook vistas. Outdoor spaces include a gazebo and wooded areas dotted with benches.

Oh, and there are vineyards. Did I mention the vineyards? (Truly, whether you drink wine or not, whether you plan to marry or not, do yourself a favor and check out Central Virginia’s vineyards. Then you’ll start to know the meaning of pretty.)

Hodson credits her team, Christine Hurley, Said Rhafiri and Karl Hambsch, with keeping the whole operation stress-free.

Walking along the trellised porch that wraps around Veritas’ winery, Hodson shows every sign of having realized her ambition of a decade ago. “Being here has given us a great sense of time,” she says. “Every year is different, whereas before every year was the same. Every bottle of wine tells a story for us.”

And though she didn’t foresee how many personal stories would also enter into the mix, it’s clear she loves it. “In his previous business, 50 percent of Andrew’s people walked out with a death sentence,” she says, recalling his medical practice before he turned to winemaking with their daughter Emily. “It’s not like that here. People come here in a happier situation.

“With weddings,” Hodson says, “no one is sad.”