Hardscrabble Vineyard

hardscrabbleThe estate vineyard surrounding the winery building. “Hardscrabble” is a term referring to this area on the Blue Ridge, appropriately named for steep, poor, rocky slopes that were difficult to farm. These soils have been wonderful for vines. The soils are very diverse. Excessively well-drained granite based soils grow our best quality red grapes, while the white varieties do well in the heavier greenstone silt/clay soils. Elevation is 1,100 to 1,400 feet (370 to 470 meters). Slope aspect is primarily east, with some south and northeastern exposures. We are in the middle of a 10 year plan of removing unerpreforming blocks and replanting them in a way that makes better sense to us after nearly 30 years of experience.

Training systems:
All vines are cane pruned (single or double Guyot depending on vine spacing) with the exception of some Merlot that is cordon pruned. Most of the vineyard is on VSP. Some plantings from the 1980’s and 1990’s are on Lyre, but these are slowly being removed or converted to VSP.

Vine spacing and density:
We continue to experiment with vine density in new plantings. Vines per acre range from 605 to 2,074 (1,500 to 5,000 per hectare). Distance between vines range from 28″ to 6 feet with the narrower spacing being more appropriate for less fertile soils. We now have only narrow vineyard tractors, which has allowed us to plant our rows much tighter. New plantings on VSP are at 6 or 7 feet between rows.

Clones and rootstocks:
Most of the older plantings at Hardscrabble occurred before clones became trendy, on the standard clones then available. Beginning in 2001 we have been doing several experimental clonal plantings, especially with Cabernet Sauvignon. It will take many years before we have any feel for the best performers.
Beginning with our first plantings in 1985 we have done much experimentation with rootstocks, starting with seven different rootstocks in both Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. We were looking primarily for devigorating characteristics. The conclusion has been that rootstocks do not contribute significantly to vigor in vines on our site. We will continue to try newly available rootstocks such as Riperia Gloire and 101-14 which seem to show promise.

Harvest and yields:
Harvest usually begins in early September with Sauvignon Blanc. All the whites are picked by early October (with the exception of Late Harvest). Most of the reds are harvested in October. Late Harvest Vidal is picked well into November. Yields for the reds average around 3 tons per acre (40 to 45 hectoliters per hectare) and slightly higher for the whites.

Site influence on style and flavor:
Hardscrabble’s signature is firmly structured wines that develop slowly and take on more depth with time. Because of the older vines and diversity of soils, wines from the Hardscrabble site have a great deal of complexity. Reds can be somewhat tight and closed for the first 3 years, and then slowly they take on flesh and become more supple and aromatic. They can be reminiscent of a Medoc or Pessac-Leognan. The Chardonnays are Burgundian (emulating Puligny) in style and require 3 or 4 years aging before they evolve.

Most of the older plantings at Hardscrabble occurred before clones became trendy, on the standard clones then available. Beginning in 2001 we have been doing several experimental clonal plantings, especially with Cabernet Sauvignon. It will take many years before we have any feel for the best performers.
Beginning with our first plantings in 1985 we have done much experimentation with rootstocks, starting with seven different rootstocks in both Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. We were looking primarily for devigorating characteristics. The conclusion has been that rootstocks do not contribute significantly to vigor in vines on our site. We will continue to try newly available rootstocks such as Riperia Gloire and 101-14 which seem to show promise.

Harvest and yields:
Harvest usually begins in early September with Sauvignon Blanc. All the whites are picked by early October (with the exception of Late Harvest). Most of the reds are harvested in October. Late Harvest Vidal is picked well into November. Yields for the reds average around 3 tons per acre (40 to 45 hectoliters per hectare) and slightly higher for the whites.

Site influence on style and flavor:
Hardscrabble’s signature is firmly structured wines that develop slowly and take on more depth with time. Because of the older vines and diversity of soils, wines from the Hardscrabble site have a great deal of complexity. Reds can be somewhat tight and closed for the first 3 years, and then slowly they take on flesh and become more supple and aromatic. They can be reminiscent of a Medoc or Pessac-Leognan. The Chardonnays are Burgundian (emulating Puligny) in style and require 3 or 4 years aging before they evolve.

Avenius Vineyard

AveniusLocated one half-mile north of Hardscrabble, the eponymous Avenius vineyard was planted in 1996 by Shari Avenius, Linden’s manager. Elevation is 1,300 feet with east to eastnortheast exposures. Soils are varied with shale, granite and greenstone.

Training systems:
Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon are all trained on the Lyre system allowing for good sun exposure. Petit Verdot and Merlot are on VSP.

Vine spacing and density:
Lyre vines are spaced 11 or 12 feet between rows and 6 feet between vines. Vine density ranges from 605 to 660 vines per acre or 1,452 to 1,584 vines per hectare. Merlot is planted at 9’x4′ (1,210 vines per acre) and 7’x4′ (1515 vines per acre)

Harvest and yields:
Avenius is our coolest site, often making it the last to harvest. Typically the whites are harvested from mid to late September and the reds in October. Yields are low due to small cluster size and sometimes severe crop thinning in the reds to ensure full ripeness.

Site influence on style and flavor:
Avenius Vineyard is about minerality and verve. Whites tend to be focused on stony, flint/chalk flavors with citrus and green apple notes. Chardonnay is Chablis-like in style. Great seafood wines. Reds tend to be quite structured, very Italian-like with earthy aromas and firm acidity and tannins.

Boisseau Vineyard

BoisseauThe eponymous vineyard is located in the town of Front Royal onBoisseau a western facing bluff above the Shenandoah Valley at an elevation of 600 feet. It was planted in 2000 by Richard Boisseau on his ancestral farm.

Training systems:
The entire vineyard is cordon trained on VSP.

Vine spacing and density:
Older vines are planted at 10×7 or 622 vines per acre. New plantings are at 10×3.5 or 1,244 vines per acre.

Harvest and yields:
Boisseau is our warmest site and is therefore the first to ripen, Chardonnay usually picked in early September. The red harvest starts in late September. Yields at Boisseau are usually higher than the other sites due to the warmer temperatures, younger vines and more vigorous soils.

Site influence on style and flavor:
Boisseau wines tend to be very fruit forward with lots of mid-palate fat. They show very well when young and are especially appealing in blind tastings. The Chardonnay is Mâcon-like with tropical fruit and richness. The Boisseau Red has an almost Southern Rhone texture.