A Weekend Vineyard Escape

At Veritas, there’s more than fine food and wine on the menu.

(Photography by Hannah Malloy)

We meet on yoga mats, breathless from travel. The 12 of us stretch as we gaze across rows of sleeping grapevines framed by the Blue Ridge Mountains. As our teacher invites us to sit comfortably, an invigorating breeze of pure mountain air drifts in. We inhale deeply.

We have come to the Farmhouse at Veritas Vineyards and Winery near Afton Mountain, seeking respite from everyday life. Our backgrounds differ, but we share a need to find solace for our bodies, minds, and spirits. The four-day escape is a treat for anyone who loves the finer things in life—gourmet food, luxury lodgings, world-class wine. But it’s also ideal for those who need to connect to something deeper: to nature, to tranquility, to friendship, and finally, to one’s sense of self.

Yoga, Wine, and Friends

Patricia Hodson (Photography by Hannah Malloy)

The brainchild of Patricia Hodson—who owns Veritas along with her husband, Andrew, and their daughter, Chloe—the retreat showcases the winery while also encouraging personal growth. Chloe, a yoga instructor, suggested the yoga theme. Patricia, who loves to hike, wanted guests to have the opportunity to commune with nature. The concept took off and, today, Veritas offers nine retreats each year to meet demand. Many guests return annually.

Sarah Bridges, an attorney in Richmond, says she carves out time for the retreat every January. “It’s the one thing I do all year that’s totally for myself,” she says. She often comes with her close friends to enjoy good food and wine, fellowship, pampering massages, and a replenishing, stress-free escape.

Deb and Keith Gordon, who’ve come from Norfolk, are first-timers. They’re here to celebrate their anniversary and because “we love Veritas,” says Deb. During the retreat, the couple occasionally slips out to visit other wineries. It’s all good. There are no rules here.

The Farmhouse at Veritas, built in 1839, opened as a bed and breakfast in 2012. Retreat guests stay in its beautifully appointed rooms and meet daily for wine hour in the gathering room where, on chilly evenings, a roaring fire casts a cozy glow. Serving farm-to-table fare, The Farmhouse at Veritas Restaurant is also open for dinner and Sunday brunch. Guests can either dine in its elegant rooms or on the terrace outside.

(Photography by Hannah Malloy)

Vineyard Hikes and Cooking Class

A typical day during the retreat begins with an invigorating yoga session followed by a breakfast that might include eggs Benedict with Virginia ham. It’s served with a melt-in-your-mouth croissant with le beurre du jour and a glass of Veritas’ Scintilla Sparkling Wine—orange juice optional. Next, you might participate in a cooking class led by one of the restaurant’s excellent chefs. We watch Chef John Meikeljohn prepare Bolognese sauce over homemade pasta infused with fresh basil leaves. We taste a bite, and it’s delicious.

Next up: a vineyard hiking tour with George Hodson, Patricia and Andrew’s son and Veritas’ CEO. We hike up a mountain and survey the scenery in every direction. George tells us about grape growing and how vine placement impacts success. He shows us how vines are pruned and provides an overall explanation of the work that the vineyard team does throughout the four seasons.

In one section, fluttering red flags show where new Merlot vines will soon be planted. Veritas grows Viogner, Chardonnay, Petit Verdot, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc grapes. Their award-winning wines range from single varietals to blends, made with utmost care and expertise by lead winemaker Emily Hodson and assistant winemaker Elliott Watkins, Chloe’s husband.

(Photography by Happy Finch Photography)

Grapes, Tastings, and “Saying Yes”

Following the vineyard hike, an afternoon yoga practice reminds us to be present in the moment. Then it’s time for a tour of the winery and a tasting with Elliott. Surrounded by stainless steel vats and oak barrels, we learn how the grapes are processed and sample luscious wines before heading to the tasting room, where more wine, along with a table overflowing with cheeses and charcuterie awaits. Tonight’s dinner is a casual buffet of authentic Mexican fare. Other evenings we experience exquisitely prepared four-course meals paired with Veritas wines.

Before we know it, we’re back on the mats for our last yoga session with Chloe. After leading us through a variety of poses, she reads a poem as she and her co-instructor, Mia Hamza, have done during every lesson. We settle into Savasana, or corpse pose, and rest and reflect on what the retreat has meant for us.

Brit Dufilho, an attorney from New York, sums up her reason for joining the retreat: “The pandemic has given us a chance to reevaluate what is truly important. I resolved to ‘say yes’ more when it involves spending time with people I love and care about.” VeritasWines.com

This article originally appeared in the June 2022 issue.

June 11, 2022

Star Gazing and Laser Nights

Virginia Living Museum
July 9, 2022

Star Gazing and Laser Nights

Virginia Living Museum
August 13, 2022

Star Gazing and Laser Nights

Virginia Living Museum