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alumni relations, annual giving and event planning at the School of Architecture. My fiancé and I am writing a letter of support for Keswick Vineyards and farm wineries in Albemarle, in preparation for your sound ordinance hearing tomorrow, Wednesday March 9th. My fiancé and I would be at the meeting to have our voices heard but we have a class at 7:30PM that we cannot get out of. Instead, I hope you will read our letter and take it into account when reviewing this case. My fiancé and I learned about this new wedding venue, Keswick Vineyards, soon after we got engaged in May 2010. As I plan events for the UVA School of Architecture, I stay current on the news of new venues in the area. We made an appointment to visit Keswick in June and although it was only the second venue we had visited, we knew we had found the place for our special day. We had attended a magnificent wedding in Martha's Vineyard a year earlier of two good friends and fell in love with the sperry tent they had erected on a field. It was light and airy, the white peaks looking like sails in the wind, and at night the glow from the tent was stunning. I dreamed of having a sperry tent for my wedding, but I also knew the cost of renting one and it was above our budget. Therefore when we visited Keswick and saw that we could have our reception under this tent, in a gorgeous setting of vines and the Blue Ridge off in the distance for less than the cost of renting a tent on our own - it seemed too good to be true. To top that, Keswick had paid attention to all of the right details - ample parking, a beautiful gazebo, fake grass under the tent to keep the outdoor feel without the mud, the best chairs, a renovated bridal/groom prepping area and helpful, honest people answering my questions. I have worked with a lot of venues and have planned a lot of events here in Charlottesville and in New York City - I can tell when a place, especially a new venue, know what they are doing by their attention to detail and their staffing. It was clear that Keswick wanted to provide a different venue for once-in-alifetime events. We booked the venue for our April 2011 wedding shortly after and then shortly after that with the first wedding at the venue, we started to hear news about the sound issues. As any couple who finds out that their venue is facing complaints and lawsuits, we were shocked, confused, and mostly stressed. It had never occurred to us that sound would be an issue and as a former dancer, music is not only entertainment but a vital part of any party, let alone my wedding. I contacted Keswick immediately and received an email directly from Cindy Schornberg about the details to the sound rumors and their situation. I was calmed to know that the owner of Keswick was handling the correspondences herself, so that any news would not be second-hand. We were optimistic for the complaints to cease, and for the country laws to change to allow for a reasonable decibel-level reading for amplified outdoor music. Cindy and I kept in constant touch. She would update my fiancé and I with every new idea to sound-proof the tent or a new sound system to direct the noise. We met several times with Barbara and Cindy to discuss when the County would meet on this issue and gauged their thoughts on how this would effect our wedding in April. We went back and forth, through a lot of unnecessary stress and for several months we always sided with staying with Keswick since we loved the space so much. I picked out my wedding dress because I could picture myself standing in front of the white house, getting married. Cindy always was honest and from the beginning said they would return
our full deposit and help us secure another location if we decided to leave. That too gave us comfort. In the Fall when the opposition filed an injunction on one of the weddings (but on the wrong date), that is when My fiancé and I realized that we would have to leave Keswick for another venue. We could not risk having our wedding be shut down altogether by a stranger. I could not think of a worse thing to happen. We visited the last wedding of the season to see the level of sound that would be allowed for the sound to be non-audible at the neighbor's property and decided immediately that it was not loud enough for our wedding. We canceled our contract, received our full deposit back and we are now happily having our wedding at King Family Vineyard in Crozet in April. We felt more secure knowing King Family has hundreds of weddings each year and we are happy that our ceremony and cocktail reception can still be held outdoors. We love our new location and the transition was easy, but we still support Keswick and all Farm Wineries in improving the sound ordinance to a modern-day, reasonable level. Other people, in the future should be able to have a beautiful outdoor wedding under a sperry tent with some good danceable music and heartfelt speeches that won't be looked upon as "too loud". My fiancé and I also support Farm Wineries and the event/wedding business for the great exposure they provide to this area. Our wedding of just under 200 people will be all out of town guests, except for about 10 friends who live in this area. That is 200 people who we have advised to do wine tours, visit Monticello, shop on the downtown mall, attend Fridays after Five, eat at the great restaurants - many who have never been to Charlottesville before. We are excited to share our home with our friends and family, and the thriving wedding business in the beautiful scenary that surrounds Charlottesville helps with tourism and local business. Weddings at these farm wineries are classy, upstanding events by individuals celebrating a very important day with close friends and family - the clientele and their guests are people that we should welcome in Albemarle. I know that we alone are spending thousands of dollars to have our wedding in Charlottesville, not to mention the hotels and meals consumed by our 200 guests over 3 days. This thriving business ought to be welcomed and appreciated. In closing, I just want to reiterate my support of Keswick Vineyards, the Schornbergs and Farm Wineries. As a former client, I was treated with respect and honesty and even after moving locations, I am looking forward to sharing with Cindy photos from my wedding. We hope that although we decided to leave Keswick, that other couples will be able to enjoy the hardwork, great wines and beauty of that vineyard for their wedding and special occasions. Sincerely,