“Tastemaker” is a term typically used to describe a person — either a sommelier or writer in the wine world — who decides what is good, cool or otherwise interesting. With our new #Tastemaker profiles, I’ve decided to usurp the term to mean someone who actually makes the wines, ciders, spirits, etc. that we love. A “tastemaker” should make something, after all.
I’m always wary of labeling any single person or thing the “best” or “most” anything — but Jim Law, winegrower and owner of Linden Vineyards, is at least among the most influential figures in Virginia wine. Winemakers and grape growers all over the mid-Atlantic region count him as an influence.
Of all of the Vinginia winemakers I’ve been lucky enough to spend time with, no one is more focused on his vineyard and his terroir than Jim Law. It’s a passion that crossed over into obsession. There are great wines being made all over Virginia, but when someone asks me where they should start with Virginia wine, I point them to Jim and his wines.
It’s only fitting then that he be my first Virginia #tastemaker. And I love his response to what he likes least about the Virginia wine industry. Get to know one of the true geniuses in the Virginia wine country.
Location: Linden, VA on top of the Blue Ridge Mountains, 60 miles west of Washington DC
Current Job: Winegrower/owner, Linden Vineyards
Wine of the moment: Linden’s Avenius Sauvignon Blanc 2015. Just off the bottling line, it was totally closed down, but after 2 weeks of being open, it promises to be the best SB we have ever made.
My winemaking style in 1-5 words: Personality, terroir driven, mineral, Old World
First bottle of wine I remember drinking: Meursault, producer and vintage unknown because I was only a young teenager. Shared with my family at the dinner table in the 1960s.
How I got here: My first winemaking job in Virginia was in 1981. My quest for reproducing that 1960s Meusault led me to the cool high elevation mountains of Northern VA where I started planting Linden Vineyards in 1985.
My winemaking style — in more words: Terroir winemaking = no additives, no funny business, and extremely conservative. It’s about the site, not the person.
Mentors: My biggest regret is to have not apprenticed. I could have shaved a couple of decades off of my learning curve. However, Jacques Lardiere (of Jadot in Burgundy), Andre Ostertag of Alsace, Eric Boissenot of Bordeaux have all influenced my philosophies and practices.
Music playing in the cellar right now: Background music is like cocktail wines: social lubrication. Great wine and music should be treated with respect and attention. If one doesn’t pay attention, it is noise or alcohol, but not art. We don’t have any music in the tasting room. I respect it too much. Puccini, Dylan, or the Stones depending on my mood.
Favorite thing about Virginia wine industry: Controlled chaos.
Least favorite thing about Virginia wine industry: Entertainment wineries with no vineyards.
One surprising thing that I’m really good at: I’m a grease monkey extraordinaire.
What I drink: Burgundy, Bordeaux, Alsace, Rhone, and Barolo, but not at the same time.
My “Desert Island Meal” — wine included: Roast chicken and Volnay.