Wine Enthusiast | June 14, 2014

Virginia’s Revolutionaries

Alexander Peartree

“How many people get an opportunity to discover what the terroir is in a new region?” says Law. “Europeans have been [making wine] forever, so they can’t. But we can!”

It was this pioneering spirit that led Law to northern Virginia in the early 1980s, where he established Linden Vineyards and set out to define the region’s terroir.

When he planted Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay, Seyval and Vidal on the original six-acre Hardscrabble Vineyard plot back in 1985, Law wasn’t sure how it would all pan out.

“Most of our influence was coming from California, not Europe, at that time, and we really didn’t understand soil-vine relationships at all,” he says. “It wasn’t until about 15 years ago. All of a sudden the light bulb went off when I started traveling to Bordeaux.”

In Virginia, the annual rainfall hovers around 40 inches, making it a wet, maritime-influenced growing region, much like Bordeaux. Using the model of Right Bank chateaus that plant Merlot on water-retentive clay soils and Left Bank chateaus that cultivate Cabernet Sauvignon on well-drained gravel, Law tore up most of his original vines, expanded the vineyard and began to plant grapes.

“All of a sudden the light bulb went off when I started traveling to Bordeaux.”

Now, with 18 acres planted in his self-managed Hardscrabble Vineyard, as well as partner-growers who manage the Avenius and Boisseau vineyards, Law is finally starting to see the potential of each site.

“The vineyards are established now, and we don’t really do much to express the different aspects of each site,” Law says. “The winemaking is pretty much the same, and that’s the beauty of it.”

Law’s Hardscrabble bottlings of Chardonnay and a Cabernet Sauvignon-dominant blend have created great demand. Only released under the vineyard name in good vintages, these wines strike a balance between Old World restraint and New World fruit expression. They’ve become  the benchmark for what many Virginia winemakers strive to attain—wines that express time and place.

[Excerpted from larger article]

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