Polly is the inspirational leader of the Dodon team. She keeps all of us going in the right direction, gets her hands dirty when needed, and looks out for the human side of the vineyard and cellar. She brings these same qualities to her career in public health policy where she has recently been recognized as an Honorary Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing. It’s a rare honor, conferred on only a few non-nurses each year. The formal announcement can be found here.
Dodon 'til Dusk is a Club Member only recurring event at which we gather at the pavilion for a casual picnic dinner each Sunday from 5-8 pm from May - September.
Frequently asked questions about Dodon 'til Dusk
Are reservations required for this event?
- Starting in 2018, reservations will be required for Dodon ‘til Dusk to ensure that there is adequate seating, staff and service.
- Once the event is sold out, it will be posted on this page and on Facebook.
- RSVP here
Can I bring children?
- Children are welcome at Dodon ‘til Dusk if closely supervised by their parents.
- Children should always be accompanied by an adult on the north and west of the road (the winery side), including trips to the bathroom
- There should be no sports equipment, running, or other disruptive activity in the pavilion and picnic table area. Balls and bats, kites, and other sports equipment may be used in the “bowl” to the west of the pavilion.
- Parents should accompany children when visiting the lambs. Please do not allow your children to taunt them; when frightened, they will try to jump out of the electric fence.
- Please do not allow your children to walk on the flower beds or lavender, enter the vineyard or other production areas of the farm and winery, or climb on farm equipment.
Is ordering dinner from the caterer required?
- No. You are invited to pre-order dinner, or bring your own picnic. No grills or cooking areas are available. Betka Yates, owner and chef of Read Food LLC, has created a summer menu (available June – August) that will highlight local ingredients and pair well with Dodon wine.
- Orders should be reserved in advance as certain items may not be available for on-site purchase. Order here.
Can I bring alcoholic beverages?
- Due to state and federal regulations, only alcoholic beverages that are produced by Dodon may be consumed on the premises.
Are pets permitted?
- Only service animals are permitted on site.
Do I have to arrive on-time at 5pm?
- Dodon ‘til Dusk is an open-house style event so feel free to arrive at your leisure.
- Last-call for wine purchases is 7:40 pm.
What do I do when I arrive?
- You will be directed to a specific parking area. Since Dodon is a working farm, it is possible that the parking location may change to allow for certain farming activities to take place.
- If you require handicapped or more easily accessible parking, please continue to the lot behind the winery building.
- Once you park, a member of the Dodon staff will greet you, and if you have pre-ordered dinner, confirm your order.
- Wine will be available for sale by the glass or bottle at the bar under the pavilion.
- If you have ordered dinner, it will be delivered to your table as soon as it is ready.
What happens if it rains?
- If Dodon ‘til Dusk is cancelled due to weather, we will post the cancellation as soon as possible on this page and on social media, and we will send an email to those with reservations to the event with updates.
- There are no rain dates for Dodon ‘til Dusk.
- Your dinner order will be refunded in full if the event is cancelled due to weather. Dinner orders will not be refunded in any other case.
Do I need to provide my own furniture?
- No, Dodon will offer plenty of seating, but feel free to bring your own blankets, if you wish.
May I bring non-Wine Club member guests?
- Guests of Club members are invited to attend Dodon ‘til Dusk at this time. If this policy changes, or the number of guests become limited, we will announce that news via email to Club members.
Why is the winery open by appointment only?
Tom. Dodon is home to three generations of our family, a fact that shapes all activities at the farm. When visitors come to the vineyard and winery, they are visiting our home, and as in our home, the space and the events that we host reflect our tastes and preferences – simple, yet refined and textured; modern, yet pastoral and hospitable; elegant, yet warm and intimate. And, as in our home, we plan gatherings at which we can be fully present and engaged with each of our guests.
Polly. Because we are only open by appointment, we can organize our schedules to ensure that we can spend time with our guests. We want to share the Dodon story in a calm, comfortable atmosphere. The seated tasting format also emphasizes the role of the person hosting the tastings, who is not only knowledgeable about wine, but also an integral part of Dodon’s vineyard and winemaking.
People are sometimes curious about why wine tastings at Dodon are by appointment and are seated. The short answer is that during our wine journeys, the tastings we have most enjoyed are the “slow” ones, the ones at which we engage in a deep discussion of the “hows and whys” behind the wines with a member of the winery’s team.
In my last post on organic agriculture, I discussed the importance of balance in the vineyard, especially in the soil where microbes play a critical role in creating a healthy environment for plant growth. This notion of ecological balance is central to a form of organic agriculture known as biodynamics.
In what has become a metaphor for the 2017 vintage, a black widow found her way onto the sorting table in the last hours of harvest. We’ve always known that there are lots of black widows in the vineyard, but mostly they keep to themselves, quietly helping rid the vines of unwanted insects. How she got to the table is anyone’s guess. It seems unlikely that she was on a cluster when it was snipped into an unsuspecting hand, so perhaps she crawled into a picking basket that inadvertently landed on her web. In either case, we popped both the spider and her grape into the sorting bin, and off she went to the compost pile. No harm done to either party.
With the red harvest complete, and extended macerations underway, I’m starting to think more concretely about how barrel aging will affect the wine and how we can use this understanding to enhance quality. It goes without saying that barrels are not neutral vessels. Aromatic substances in oak quickly diffuse into wine, and some of these combine with or react with substances in the wine to create new flavors. It’s a bit like using spices while cooking. A little bit can enhance the natural flavor of the ingredients, adding complexity and depth. Too much can hide great ingredients, and faulty ones. Oak also contains tannins that have both beneficial and detrimental effects on wine.
The bird nets are all up, so our attention is quickly turning to preparing to bottle 800 cases of wine this Friday, August 18. I’m excited about all the wines, especially the 2015 Oronoco and Dungannon. We’re also getting ready for the harvest. The season has been shaping up nicely. Veraison came early, July 20 in Block 40 (Merlot), and went quickly, with superb uniformity across all the blocks. This means that the fruit will ripen evenly and allow us to fully extract all the flavors, always an exciting prospect for a winemaker. The modest rains have kept the wines in peak condition, allowing photosynthesis to work its magic, as have the cooler temperatures with lots of clear sunshine.
Dodon’s soils substantially differ from those in other wine growing regions. Termed Marr-Dodon complex soils, they are described as fine-loamy (meaning smallish particle size), siliceous (having high levels of silica that warms the soil), semiactive (modest cation exchange associated with low fertility), mesic (medium temperature), aquic (Dodon series) or typic (Marr series) (aquic soils retain more water than typic) hapludults (derived from sandstone).
Those who have visited know that Dodon has a rich and varied history. To celebrate this heritage, we’ve chosen historical themes when naming Dungannon, Oronoco, and Drum Point, Dodon’s Collectors wines. In this article, we share the story of the Drum Point Railroad.
Winter is pruning time, and no matter how long we think it will last when viewed from November, the season always passes too quickly. There are lots of competing demands, and sometimes, like this year, it is cut short by warm weather. But like all cultural practices in the vineyard, we don’t cut corners.
Grapevines grow just fine in water supplemented with a few nutrients, a method known as hydroponics. Growing hydroponically has lots of advantages. Because it can be done indoors, hydroponics allows perfect temperature control, and it avoids disease pressure often associated with rain, humidity, and insects. Vegetative growth can easily be regulated by adjusting the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and the amount of nitrogen in the aqueous solution. It’s little wonder that tomatoes, lettuce and other vegetables, and most commercial marijuana are grown hydroponically.
I’m often asked when leading guests on a tour in the vineyard whether Dodon is “organic,” or at least aspires to be certified as an organic vineyard. It’s a fair question. In many ways, we fit the common image of organic farmers. On a summer visit, you will find our vineyard team out with hoes, clippers, and other hand tools, carefully cultivating the soil and tending the vines. Regulations governing organic certification require practices that are standard operating procedures at Dodon, such as use of organic composts, mechanical weeding, and use of biological controls for insect pests. These methods are labor intensive and expensive, and they illustrate our commitment to sustainability, ecologically-friendly practices, and a balanced ecosystem.
Happy New Year! We just left the cellar, sniffing, tasting, listening, and stirring one last time in 2016. The ‘16 vintage is coming around nicely. The Sauvignon Blanc and Rosé are developing the flavors and weight that characterize the Dodon site. They’ll be ready for bottling March. The Chardonnay has finished themalolactic fermentation and is settling in for its year-long elévage. The primary fermentations (the conversion of sugar to alcohol) are yet to finish in the reds, but the familiar snap, crackle, pop from the bung hole prove the yeast are still working.
The red wines are now in tank, primary fermentations nearly complete, extended macerations underway, and the conversion from malic acid to lactic acid getting starting. While the next movement of the vintage is still being written, the personality of the growing season is now clear. Starting, as spring always does, with anticipation and hope, the rhythm quickly began alternating between moments of dramatic threat and pastoral idyll. Like Sibelius’ second symphony, the sense was that of an ongoing conversation between death and salvation, personified by increasing tension, fatigue, and anxiety before ending in a final heroic conclusion.
Support for genetically modified organisms or GMOs got quite a boost this summer when the National Academy of Sciences released their most recent report on GMOs, concluding that, compared to “conventionally” farmed crops, GMOs have had generally, but not uniformly, positive effects on producer income and that they are safe to eat. To be sure, the NAS committee comprehensively reviewed the literature comparing GMOs with conventionally farmed crops, so from this perspective, it fulfilled its narrow statement of task. But many winegrowers will view the scope of the report as limited, comparing two largely technologically driven agricultural methods but leaving out more ecologically-based methods that rely on diversified ecosystems to improve quality and increase yields.
The Bordelais say that the quantity of the vintage is determined in June and its quality is determined in September. That’s not quite true, but now that we’ve finished bloom and the fruit has set, we have a good sense that that the 2016 vintage will be on the small side. It started with the early bud break at the end of a very warm March, followed by two hard freezes in early April, and then cool, wet weather through the rest of April and most of May. The necessary handwork in the vineyard was unpleasant, and managing the tractors was tricky and sometimes dangerous.
Issac Newton described time in absolute terms that I find intuitive. It is the same everywhere, it has constant duration, and it flows continuously in the same direction. According to Craig Callender, Professor of Philosophy at University of California, San Diego, Newtonian time is a kind of master clock that carves our world into instants.
It was a busy year around Dodon. In February, Matthieu Finot joined the team as consulting winemaker. Matthieu’s training in Burgundy and his 23 years in Virginia bring remarkable experience and a steady hand to the cellar team. In March, we were joined by vineyard consultant Lucie Morton and geologist Bubba Beasley to map the vineyards using electromagnetic induction. Our immediate motivation was to find those areas most appropriate for each varietal for our April planting of eight acres and 16,000 vines.