House of Cards

Like most of the country, ever since last Friday I’ve been binge watching “House of Cards.” The minute I started the first episode of this season, it was like welcoming a group of old friends back into my living room. Sure they’re a group of old friends that will stop at nothing in order to achieve power and influence, but they’re my friends, so I look past all that.

Much has been written over the past week about how this show just sucks you in, causing you to lose track of time as you watch episode after episode. But along with sucking you into the plot, what this show also does extremely well is suck you into the rhythm and pace of DC. I’d say no show on TV right now (even “Scandal”) depicts the city better.

DC has always been a city of intrigue for me. When I was younger I had a brief flirtation with the idea of politics, and for that reason alone, DC has always held a special allure. During that time in my life, DC was like my Oz, the place where amazing things occurred, run by committed people wanting to do good and move our country forward.

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As I said, my flirtation with politics was only brief, and I have long put the idea of DC and my place in it in my rearview mirror, but still, when I turn on “House of Cards,” I can’t help thinking back to the city’s once strong pull on me.

While DC may no longer be the city that’s my metaphorical castle on a hill, there is a place, only an hour and a half west of DC, in Linden, Virginia, that’s definitely one of my new beacons of admiration. That’s because in this town of Linden, some of the best wine in America is being made.


Linden is home to Linden Vineyards, and its winemaker Jim Law. Jim came to Virginia as a winemaker in 1981 and stayed, taking over an abandoned farm on the top of the Blue Ridge Mountains and transforming it into a premiere winery, while becoming the number one winemaker on the East Coast along the way. What makes Linden so special is Jim’s connection to not only his own vineyard, but to Virginia wine in general. Years ago Jim started an apprentice program, allowing people interested in working in wine to come and learn from him; the only catch of that apprenticeship was that the apprentice had to commit to staying and improving Virginia’s wine industry after its conclusion. I think if Thomas Jefferson were alive today, Jim would give him a run for his money concerning who was more committed to Virginia wine.

When I watch “House of Cards” now, I don’t just think of DC — I also think of Jim and his incredible wine. Last night, before turning on the next episode, I pulled out a bottle of his Red Blend ($19) that I had squirreled away from my last visit to the vineyard. This wine is a fantastic Bordeaux style blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Carménère — an incredibly quaffable wine that was perfect to sip as I watched Frank Underwood unfurl his latest plot.

As I drank the wine, my mind left the show and wandered to Virginia, settling on the porch just off the tasting room that overlooks Jim’s vineyards. I held there for a moment as I reflected on how incredible the wine was, and how lucky I was to be drinking it. This for me is what wine is all about: a drink that can take you to a different location, even when you’re sitting on your couch. More people really need to drink Jim Law’s wine.