2013 Hardscrabble Red


Fresh, elegant entry with a slow evolution to precise fine-grained tannins and a cleansing acidity.


Red currant, dark cherry compote, forest floor, tandoor smoke, and dried herbs.

Food Pairings

Spring lamb, steak on the grill, summer sausages.


Hardscrabble Vineyard (100%), Fauquier Co. on top of the Blue Ridge at 1,200 to 1,400 feet with an eastern to southern slope. Moderately shallow, well-drained rocky, mineral soils give depth, structure and length. Vines planted from 1985 to 2011. Older vines planted at a density of 600 to 800 vines per acre. Younger vineyards at 1,500 to 2,500 vines per acre.


2013 was a difficult growing season that metamorphosed into a fabulous fall harvest. Bud break was very late. Most of the summer was wet, resulting in unruly vegetative growth and extra vineyard work. August continued this pattern until the last week when the weather broke.

September defines the quality and style of the wine. The bad behavior of the previous six months can be easily forgiven and forgotten if September is bright and sunny. September 2013 rewarded us for all our diligence during the growing season. The wild child of summer finally found a niche and thrived into early adulthood. With the exception of one very brief rain shower, we had no rain in September. This is quite remarkable in the mid Atlantic. Days were warm and sunny; nights were very cool.

Merlot and Cabernet Franc were able to take full advantage of September’s gift, ripening fully before the rains that began on October 10. Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot had to be rushed in before the rains did too much damage. The resulting red wines have fresh acidity and a good core. They will be good candidates for aging. Harvest was from September 27 (Merlot) until October 14 (Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot).


This is a selection of the best vineyard blocks at Hardscrabble.  Straightforward, minimalist winemaking, especially when oak was involved, seemed to be appropriate. The reds had good, fresh material, but were only barely phenolically ripe. Saignée was used judiciously, usually in the 10 to 15% range for fear of over emphasizing tannins. Extractions were moderate with more focus on early timing of pump overs or punch downs. Fermentation temperatures were kept cooler than normal, rarely peaking above 27C (80F). Post fermentation maceration temperatures and lengths were cautious for fear of over extracting as the wines were fairly high in acidity.

Fermentation began spontaneously (no added yeast) in small one-ton fermenters. Punched down and pumped over averaging two times per day. Malo in barrels. The wine was aged in new (30%) and slightly used French oak barrels for 21 months. Bottled August of 2015. 57% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Merlot, and 11% Cabernet Franc. 13.7% alc. Drink 2017 through 2023. 365 cases produced.

Red WinesJim Law