Owner(s): Jim Law
Winemaker: Jim Law
Open to Public
Fri-Mon 11 to 5
3708 Harrels Corner Road; Linden, VA 22642
Linden Vineyards Profile
Written by Brian—May 22, 2014
During a recent visit to Virginia, some British wine expert identified several wineries as producers of world-class wine. I read this type of news all the time. I’m always dubious of such pronouncements, because it assumes the wine celebrity has visited every winery of note. Nevertheless, Linden Vineyards is typically on that short list and that restores at least some of my confidence. Curiously, you won’t find Linden on the Virginia wine map, nor will you see them advertising. They neither encourage, nor discourage visitors. They do not sponsor events and they keep very strict hours on the days they are open. Linden is dedicated to production of the best possible wine that reflects the local terroir and a visit to Linden is simply an opportunity for them to tell that story.
Jim Law grew up in Ohio. Wine was a regular feature during meals, so he learned to appreciate it at an early age. After graduating for Miami University (Miami of Ohio that is), he spent time in the Peace Corps teaching agriculture in Zaire. I’m not entirely sure of the timeline, but Jim also spent a period of his life working in the wine industry in Indiana and Ohio. This was part of the trajectory that led him to purchase the abandoned farm just outside Linden, Virginia. What he brought with him was a work ethic, some knowledge of viticulture, and a love of wine. These things are reflected in the tasting room.
The full Linden experience includes the standard tasting, which is conducted at one of the tasting bars on the main floor. There are regular tours that take visitors into the vineyard and through the winery. The final component is the a cellar tasting that includes elements of a small vertical tasting and is organized to demonstrate the impact of vintage or terroir. I wanted to learn everything I could about Linden, so I participated in all three.
If you only went for the basic tasting, you would never know what you were missing and might likely walk away from Linden quite satisfied. The wines in that lineup are crafted using grapes from two or more of the Linden vineyards. On the day of my visit, the five wines on the menu included a Chardonnay, two Riesling/Vidal blends and two red Bordeaux blends. They are all excellent wines and, as I said, you’d be none the wiser, if you stopped here.
For my part, I think the guided tour is an essential educational leg of the visit. I learned that Linden has now been producing wine for thirty years. Today there are twenty-five acres under vine at three different vineyards. The majority of acreage is located on Hardscrabble Farm, which is the original Linden property. About a mile further down the ridge line is Avenius. Boisseau is a little further still and, at 600 feet, it’s the lowest and warmest of the vineyards. The fruit from the three vineyards contributes to the 5500 cases that are produced annually.
For anyone intent on increasing their wine knowledge, the cellar tasting is a must. It is conducted in small groups and the tasting lineup changes periodically, but the general theme remains. There are total of six wines tasted in groups of two. So you will taste a pair of single-varietal wines from different years or different vineyards. This is really an opportunity to experience the difference between growing seasons or terroir. It’s a brilliantly constructed tasting and extremely insightful.
The Linden staff will tell you that the purpose of the tastings and tour is to educate visitors about their winery, but I think it really goes much further. The full visit is an introduction to wine and specifically Virginia wine. It’s a learning opportunity and it’s completely worthwhile for anyone wishing to expand their wine knowledge. I simply can’t say enough good things about it. If you want to have a unique winery experience and come away just a little better for the time spent, take a trip to Linden. If you want to hang out somewhere and just drink wine, there are any number of other venues in the Commonwealth that will meet that need.