Andrew Hodson is the patriarch of Veritas Vineyard & Winery. As a young man he dedicated his life to medicine, working in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Florida. A talented neurologist, his hands became an expression of his intellect, compassion, and skill. Medicine was his passion, shared with his wife, Patricia, who owned a medical billing service, but in the 1990s, the couple decided to leave the profession. They were looking for something new, something to bring change to each year and each season. They didn’t know then, but their choice brought a great change in which the seasons are celebrated by “each vintage.”
Andrew describes his transition to vintner as a perfect segue. A casual visit to Virginia’s wine country led to the purchase of Saddleback farm. Soon after, the family sold their homes in the South and arranged the move North. “There was just no doubt about it,” said Andrew about the decision. While practicing medicine in Philadelphia, the Hodsons often went camping in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Looking back, Andrew believes something in those family memories encouraged the decision that changed their lives.
Daughters Emily and Chloe held down the farm the first year. Andrew and Patricia spent most of that year in Florida closing down their careers in medicine. The girls, who are twelve years apart, fondly recall learning how to run a farm together as the beginning of the close bond they now share. Whether trapped on the front porch by an overbearing horse or almost taking out the house with a tractor’s front end, it was a humorously formidable year for them both. Andrew and Patricia joined their daughters in 1999, in time to see the first vines of cabernet franc, merlot, traminette, tanat, and petite verdot planted, adding viognier, sauvignon blanc, and manseng the following year. With vines firmly rooted, Veritas Vineyard & Winery, started as the family’s labor of love, began to take shape. The name seemed right. Derived from the Roman historian Pliny the Elder’s observation: “In Vino Veritas,” meaning “In Wine There is Truth,” it is a fitting name since Andrew discovered truth can indeed be found in a leap of faith.
In 2002, Veritas opened to the public. Andrew crafted the first vintages with Emily assisting. The process was one of opportunity, taking advantage of lessons learned from the soil, vines, and grapes while relying on judgment to drive the winery’s evolution. Emily took over as lead winemaker after the first few years, using her technical understanding of winemaking and Masters of Enology from Virginia Tech that proved instrumental in creating wines that are among the best in Virginia. Her skill and dedication to winemaking were recognized in 2007 when she was awarded the title of Overall Winner in the Women Winemakers Challenge at the National Women’s Wine Competition. Her Viognier – made from a grape quickly becoming the signature grape of Virginia - is one of the finest examples coming from the Monticello AVA. Although Andrew’s presence in the winery continues to be influential to the wine’s development, he and Patricia are semiretired. Undoubtedly, they rest comfortably in the knowledge that the family winery is in good hands.
Veritas was not originally intended to be an event destination. Initially, wine tastings occurred on picnic tables out on the lawn, but Patricia saw how much people enjoyed the setting and went to work designing the tasting room and grounds. Her design is open and versatile, allowing guests to experience Veritas wines in an extraordinary place with elegant décor and artwork, giving the space an Elizabethan feel. Visitors enjoy wine outside, from the porch or picnic tables and Adirondack chairs on the lawn featuring breathtaking views. Guests also relax inside on hearthside couches and chairs across from a warm fire softly glowing. No wonder people from all over flock to this special place for weddings, parties and concerts, or to relax in such a pristine setting. Because of the popularity of their wines and a reputation for being one of the best event destinations in the region, Veritas currently produces 12,000 cases of wine per year and hosts thousands of people each season for weddings and other events.
Since Andrew and Patricia are retiring, stewardship of Veritas will pass to their children. Emily hopes to continue the evolution of the varietals and wines produced. Given her track record, success seems inevitable. Their son, George, joined the family business as General Manager, helping Patricia with the finances and managing the tasting room. Chloe insisted she would leave when she grew up, but did give in to the enticement of the family vines for a time. Graduating from the University of Virginia, she worked in the field for a year before taking over event management for the winery. Determined to make good on her promise to see the world outside of Afton, she eventually moved to New York to train as a yoga instructor. Perhaps she will return to take her place in the family business, but whatever the fates have in store for Chloe, the hard work and dedication she brought during her tenure live on in many of the events and traditions she established, such as the wildly popular Starry Nights outdoor concert series.
Veritas is expanding, with a Bed and Breakfast in the Farmhouse and an additional twenty-five acres of vines planted. The family and staff happily measure their lives by “each vintage” produced and enthusiastically enjoy sharing their life’s work. Like the name denotes, there is truth to be found in the wine at Veritas, It’s an elusive yet palpable truth, the kind that can only be found in a leap of faith.