Our Vision for the Vintage Inn at Veritas Estate
We have so much work to do to realize our vision for the Vintage Inn at Veritas Estate!
The farmhouse and property are so beautiful. When I first set foot in the house I could feel the 100 years of history in the house and the tremendous care that was taken in renovating the original wood floors and covered porches.
Walking the entire property that day it was also obvious there was the potential to create a sustainable estate with vegetable gardens, forest foraging, and vineyards to supply incredible food and wine for the Inn. Chef Tim found over 20 pounds of the rare, choice mushroom Grifola frondosa on an ancient oak tree that very first day. We couldn’t believe how well the property and home fit perfectly with who we are and what we had envisioned for our business.
Aerial view of Veritas Estate from the north. Blueberry fields border the north side of the property, while Baseline Rd is the south border. All of the trees and open grass shown are also part of the 5.2 acre estate. An unnamed stream runs through the southeast corner of the property between the Inn and Baseline Rd.
To make the Inn our own, we started with finding the right furniture and decór for the farmhouse.
Luckily, there are some incredible antique shops right in South Haven and plenty more in Holland for us to search! We already had a small collection of original 1930s-era wine posters from France! These posters are the main inspiration for the decor of the entire Inn. Our largest piece is a 6 ft X 4.5 ft original lithograph poster by Robert Wolff. It is featured in the main sitting area on the first floor. Other pieces are smaller and are in the individual suites on the second and third floors.
Original 1937 lithograph by Robert Wolff (Robys) celebrating the eponymous aperitif, Kina Lillet – a French aromatized wine that was developed in 1887. The wine was flavored with quinine made from kina-kina tree bark and became popular in the 1920s. It is featured in Ian Fleming’s 1953 novel, “Casino Royale,” as part of a drink concocted by James Bond. The bottom text reads: “au vin blanc de la Gironde” or “with white wine from Gironde,” an area of France that surrounds Bordeaux and is world-renowned for its architecture and vineyards.
Our next priority was to establish a flock of chickens, build raised-bed gardens, and plant a vineyard so we can produce food and wine right on the estate.
I previously raised chickens and I missed having a flock of friendly hens clucking around my feet! Chickens are both entertaining and soothing, not to mention that steady supply of eggs. We modified an existing shed to create a hen house with nesting boxes and hand raised the 5 different breeds that are known for being friendly, hardy, and good egg-layers. So far our girls have been wonderful ambassadors for the Inn and have provided light-hearted entertainment for many guests. Their manure is also composted and used to enhance the soil of our young vineyard.
We also planted 360 vines that are the start of the Veritas Estate vineyard on the northwest corner of the property.
I have chosen four European grape varieties, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Gris, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Gruner Veltliner, that will do well in the Lake Michigan Shore American Viticultural Area (AVA) located in southwest Michigan—the state’s traditional fruit belt region. Cabernet Franc is more cold hardy than many red Vitis vinifera varieties and it ripens slightly earlier than Cabernet Sauvignon. It is versatile as well, and may be used to make a rich, tannic red wine or picked and pressed early to make a wonderful rosé. Pinot Gris is also a versatile grape which may be used to make dry white wines, sparkling wine, and even skin-contact pink/orange wine. I hope to experiment with all of these styles in the future!
Lastly, Chef Tim has a plan for a beautiful fenced garden and orchard on the northeast side of the property.
In the spring of 2024 we will start construction of 16 raised bed gardens, unique trellises for vining plants, and espaliered fruit trees to save space. Tim has a green thumb and has raised raspberries, strawberries, peppers, tomatoes, peas, beans, kale, and lettuces for use in his commercial kitchen for years. Peach trees, lavender, cut flowers, and plenty of herbs will fill in spaces and add to our harvest as well. It is going to be fun watching everything grow over the next few years!
We are also saving money to put towards installing solar panels and an electric car charging station to support efforts to reduce climate change.
Tim’s gardens in Wisconsin (with vineyard in the background). We hope to recreate this design on a larger scale on the Estate.