Smoky Mountain Spring. The First Wine Fridge :)

Smoky Mountain Spring. The First Wine Fridge 🙂

Virginia has been making wine since the 1600s. Yes the 1600s. It all started in Jamestown when the settlers were actually required at one point to plant vines to help viticulture thrive giving the British an offshore wine market.

So why isn’t the Commonwealth a big name on the national wine map? Well, a couple of things got in their way. First was Phylloxera. That nasty little mite that just loves to munch on vitis vinifera roots. As the settlers tried to no avail to make decent wine with the scourge at their doorstep the population began to lose interest. Tobacco was thriving and focus turned toward this as a cash crop. Beer and whiskey became popular because it was easier to make and wine was shown to the way to the back burner.

Our boy Thomas Jefferson never stopped though and for thirty years or so he continued his experiments hoping to give his state the honor achieved by Bordeaux in France. George Washington, it seems tried as well with no dice. There was a vitis labrusca grape that began to thrive in the local fledgling wine culture called Norton that gained some temporary praise internationally and was immune to the Phylloxera. What it was not immune to was Prohibition. Just as Virginia was getting back on its feet with an “indigenous” grape The Volstead Act was put into law and everything went back to sleep.

When Prohibition ended there were few wineries across the country that survived the thirteen years and in Virginia it was downright dismal. Around the 1950’s it seems that vitis vinifera was brought back into play as a quiet experiment. Fortunately this was a success and I guess this is when we can start talking about when the Virginia wine culture really started getting on its way. Flourish is probably the word for it. I found out that today there are around 140 wineries in he Commonwealth and the industry is thriving. That is substantially more than the 46 or so in 1995.

So as we rolled out of our swanky KOA in Gettysburg and onto our next campsite I started getting very excited about Linden Vineyards in…well…Linden Virginia.

For almost over ten years now my family has been drinking Linden Vineyards Hardscrabble Chardonnay. Being from the D.C. area it was almost inevitable. One year my aunt and uncle were going to spend their anniversary at the little inn in Washington. My mother called the concierge on the DL and asked them if she could purchase a gift bottle and have them put it in their room has a surprise upon their arrival. I am not sure why champs was not discussed but it was a happy accident that it did not. My mother loves Chardonnay so she probably asked which was the best in the house. When my aunt and uncle arrived for there weekend getaway there was a bottle of Linden Vineyards Hardscrabble Chardonnay on the bedside table. When my parents asked them afterwards how the weekend went the only thing my aunt and uncle could talk about was the Chardonnay. My uncle Jim is an avid wine enthusiast and could not get the wine out of his head. This led to the re-gifting and re-re-gifting over many years of many bottles from the Linden Vineyards.

Needless to say I have been drinking this liquid gold for some years now. Every holiday when visiting my parents there has always been a bottle of it somewhere in the house. Before I had realized my wine geek the wine was neither here nor there for me. My palate was late to sprout but when it did it all happened at a rapid pace and seven years later here I am in NYC with a wine bar and a wine shop and this blog completely immersed in the wine culture of this great city. Now days when I go home to visit mom and dad I check the wine fridge for the signature circular label.

We diverted from our scenic route and took the “big” roads to Virginia in anticipation of our visit. We wanted to get there right around when they opened to avoid any crowds. I like getting to tasting rooms early so I can really talk to the people pouring and get a sense of the wines. They pour these wines day in and day out and sometimes work the vineyards or the facilities. They’ve got the inside scoop and I love picking their brains.

As we got closer to Linden Virginia the Blue Ridge country came into view. Even the big roads at a certain point couldn’t hide the beauty of Appalachia. It was so beautiful we actually missed the exit and had to turn around fifteen minutes later. When we finally got off the highway and started winding down country roads the sun was about and hour away from its daily mid point and was catching the bucolic scenery just right. Everything was still waking up when we saw the signs for Linden Vineyards. What it must have been like to come to these mountains and just figure it out. No highways or even roads. Crazy. We entered the winery and climbed the Cobalt up the long, steep, narrow, gravel driveway that wound through the Hardscrabble vineyard.

We parked the car, got out and all was quiet. It felt great; the remnants of morning dew scattered across the vines and the grass. Robins flittering around in peeking sunlight. The air was crisp and bright but not too cold. I have a deep love affair with this part of the world. It takes me back to my childhood and here we are at a winery, I’m in my thirties, married and have two businesses in NYC. Ya come a long way kid. Been a long time since I was in a playpen in Smoky Mountain National Park or a toddler running around Chattanooga with the fam.

We took a nice, big, full breath of the Appalachian air and headed around to the entrance of the tasting room to meet the man. Jim Law, owner and winemaker of Linden Vineyards and an absolute genius.


4 responses to this post.

  1. Very nice!
    Wine and camping
    what a brilliant marriage!
    And Virginia…who knew?

    Will you be in town on the 29th?
    I’d love to bring some peeps down to the shop
    for a Friday tasting.



    • Posted by evwgnyc on May 13, 2009 at 12:54 pm

      Hey Sistah-K!

      I am so there on the 29th. Not sure what the tasting is going to be on but it will be a blast as usual. Bit of a party sometimes.Hope to see you guys there.


  2. Really enjoyed the post! I’ve been a fan of Linden Vineyards from the very beginning and is the reason I fell in love with Virginia wines! Jim Law has figured out the formula for producing great wine, no matter the vintage. It’s about the wine and nothing else at Linden. Cheers!


    • Posted by evwgnyc on October 9, 2009 at 3:18 pm

      Thanks for reading! Jim Law is definitely revolutionizing and reviving the sense of place in VA. I really need to get back down there and get somemore of his good stuff.



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