Jim’s Writings

Second Generation

My hope is that others will learn not only from my mistakes, but more importantly muster up the courage to face those mistakes and start over.

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Crop Thinning

2015 vintage presented us with the most perfect Merlot grapes I have ever experienced. Cool dry days allowed us to pick at our leisure. Skin tannins ripened synchronistically with flavors and chemistry. One could easily fantasize about the resulting wine.

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Shoot Thinning

Shoot thinning is the most satisfying of all vineyard operations. There is immediate gratification in transforming a disheveled mass of random green shoots into an orderly, balanced canopy structure.

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Merlot Don’t Get No Respect – Winter 2013

Food Shed Winter 2013 Merlot Don’t Get No Respect Jim Law Virginia’s Piedmont is home to hundreds of acres of Merlot vines, yet this globally ubiquitous variety continues to fly below the radar. Merlot is an enigma, It has a reputation of producing easy, utilitarian,...

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Finding my terroir – November/December 2012

Flavor Magazine November/December 2012 Finding my terroir Jim Law Terroir is a French term that is not accurately translatable. I define terroir as wine’s expression of the influences of climate, soil and winegrower choices. All sites have terroir, but it may not be...

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Visits

Farmers are by the nature of our work, isolated and introverted. However, the progressive ones get off the farm when possible.

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Why I Cook – a winemaker’s perspective

Experimenting with the blending of flavors and textures in the kitchen has resulted many epiphany moments related to winemaking. A winemakers gets but one harvest a year. Opportunities to learn and fine tune are endless in the kitchen.

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Zen Winegrowing

A winegrower, however, is a farmer who has an emotional attachment to the vines and to the resulting wines. Seemingly irrational management decisions produce wines with personality and a sense of place.

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Achieving Balance in Wine Country

Fauquier County has been experiencing a somewhat contentious winery zoning debate. At the most recent public hearing on the subject, I was the clear minority of one winery in speaking out in favor of a county zoning ordinance that would curb some winery events.

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Go East Young Winegrower

The following are my thoughts and advice for the next generation of young, driven, but financially challenged winegrowers. There is no single best way in approaching such a colossal lifelong undertaking. As I reflect, it seems that a healthy dose of idealistic naivete can be very useful.

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Balance

Balance should be the end result for which all the pieces of the puzzle are small contributors. In an attempt to become a bit less ambiguous, I would like to define “balance” in the various aspects of my winegrowing operating.

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Faith Based Viticulture

Faith Based Viticulture Jim Law In this stage of my winegrowing career, I have come to focus on certain viticultural ideas and practices that I am comfortable with. I have never had an original idea when it comes to viticulture. After a 2,000 + year collective effort...

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Money Well Spent

The following, in my humble opinion, is where I feel money is best spent to make world class wines in the East.

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We Have To Work Harder Than They Do

We Have To Work Harder Than They Do Jim Law Over the past two years I have visited California (Sonoma and Napa) and Bordeaux during their veraison. Although I have made several trips to these regions in the past, I felt that I could learn more by seeing the vines,...

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Cane vs. Cordon Pruning

Cane vs. Cordon Pruning Jim Law Many viticultural management decisions are based on tradition and habit. I find this to be particularly true with pruning systems. Even though we in the East are relatively new to growing grapes, most of us have quickly settled on a...

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The Next Napa Valley

The Next Napa Valley Jim Law I am an avid wine trade journal reader. I have recently been struck by the proliferation of emerging winegrowing areas that are being promoted as the next Napa Valley. Sounds good. Obviously a p.r. attention grabber, but it made me think...

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Using Cover Crops to Make Great Wines

Using Cover Crops to Make Great Wines by Jim Law My never ending quest to make great wine has led me down some unusual paths. For the past several years, I have been working with under vine cover crops with the goal of creating a more balanced vine. I have found that...

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Taste, Taste, Taste

Taste, Taste, Taste by Jim Law Imagine a chef who doesn't eat out, an athlete who doesn't train, a writer who doesn't read, or a travel agent who doesn't travel. Over the years I have interacted with hundreds of winemakers. Each has a unique approach, philosophy,...

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Raising the Bar on Reds

Raising the Bar on Reds by Jim Law For years Virginia has been thought of as primarily a white wine region. In the 1980's and most of the 1990's even our most loyal customers had often disparaging comments about the state of Virginia red wines. In recent tastings of...

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2003: A Diary

2003: A Diary by Jim Law As painful as it may be, I feel the need to revisit vintage 2003. I learn the most from my visits to winegrowers in other regions when we taste and discuss the lesser vintages. Now it's our turn. I've experienced disappointing vintages in the...

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Growing Great Wines in the East

I am convinced that we can grow great wines in the East. Viticultural knowledge has progressed dramatically. Most regions now have several decades of experience to draw on.

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On the Verge of Mediocrity – Virginia Wines

On the Verge of Mediocrity Virginia Wines Jim Law Over the years I have seen this industry evolve in fits and starts. In 1981 as a young cellar rat in Ohio I chose to come to Virginia rather than the West Coast because I knew winegrowing here would be more...

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Finding My Place

Finding My Place by Jim Law Does terroir exist in the East? Of course it does, but expressing it and understanding it takes more time than most of us will spend on this earth. Over the last 7 or 8 years I have been fairly consumed with the expression of terroir in my...

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Across the Pond

Across the Pond by Jim Law In December of 2002 a group of Virginia winegrowers traveled for two weeks through the winegrowing regions of southern France. The primary focus was to learn techniques of growing and winemaking of grape varieties that may show promise in...

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Wines and Soils

Of Wines and Soils by Jim Law As our industry expands, new growers are looking for recommendations on varieties, clones, rootstock, vine spacing and trellising systems. When I ask about their site's physical soil characteristics, most are clueless. This is because we...

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Zen Crush

Zen Crush by Jim Law In August I take off my grower's cap and put on my winemaker's hat. I've been flat out in the vineyard since March, basically ignoring the cellar. August is the time to dust off the crush equipment and make the repairs that should have been done...

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The Courage to Do Nothing

The Courage to Do Nothing by Jim Law In past articles I have focused on the vineyard, as this is my greatest passion. To be quite honest, it takes a cold wet day to get me down in the cellar. Perhaps it is for this reason that I have fully embraced the philosophy of...

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Vigor

Vigor by Jim Law The most frequent reoccurring debates in eastern viticulture all seem to have their roots in the quest to balance vine vigor. Issues concerning vine spacing, training systems, rootstocks or canopy management revolve around matching a given vineyard's...

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Fall Essay – Cooking Fresh from the Mid-Atlantic

Fall Essay 2001 Jim Law I love the Fall. 16 hour days, no time off for months, the heartbreak of losing crop to weather or predators, equipment problems just when we don't need it. I love the Fall. No meetings, no appointments, nothing but the purity of farming. The...

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Cuts

Cuts by Jim Law Over the past several years, I have been on a quest of improving Linden's wine quality. We have a good regional reputation and the wines have gotten favorable reviews, but ever since I 'forced' myself to taste the best examples of the worlds' wines, I...

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A Guide to Canopy Management

A Guide to Canopy Management by Jim Law All winemakers have made the statement "wine is made in the vineyard". This very romantic notion can only be implemented by vineyardists with great management skills, a good sense of timing, experience and most importantly, lots...

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No More Bad Years

No More Bad Years by Jim Law Over the past several years I have been attempting to learn why some winemakers are able to produce consistently good wines in every year. I grow grapes at Linden Vineyards in the mountains of Virginia where the weather extremes are much...

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