West Virginia Winery Reviews
Daniel Vineyards - Our visit to this Crab Orchard, West Virginia winery was a welcome stop as we were driving down the WV Turnpike. Living in Ohio, we had seen the sign on many occasions as we were traveling to Virginia and North Carolina, but never had to the time to stop. This time we put Daniel Vineyards on our agenda and I'm sure glad we did. It's a little piece of heaven in the middle of West Virginia.
The rolling grounds were so pristine it put me in mind of being on a golf course. I later found out that the land used to be a golf course...which explained a few things for me. As we approached the lovely stone building I could see a very large deck with plenty of seating. It also had a large tree in the middle providing shade. A large lawn spanned the front of the building and the vineyards were beyond that. I suddenly couldn't wait to get inside. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but I was wasn't expecting anything as nice as this.
Upon entering I found the tasting room to be quite elegant. It was light, open and airy...the kind of place that makes you happy as soon as you walk in the door. We approached the tasting counter and we were greeted by our hostess for the day. She introduced all the wines to us and proceeded to lead us through a very relaxed tasting. I loved the fact that she was so knowledgeable about the wines they produced (and wine in general) and had a lot of information to offer and the winery and the surrounding area. We spent quite a lot of time with her and thoroughly enjoyed the upscale tasting that was offered to us. We were told that their top selling wine is the Blackberry - likely because of its sweetness and the winery's proximity to the turnpike. Many tourists are newcomers to the world of wine and tend to go for sweeter varieties. My personal favorite was the Baco Noir. Ontario is known for its Baco...but I think it makes a better wine in West Virginia. Daniel Vineyards makes an excellent Baco Noir and I was quite disappointed to hear that they would be discontinuing this wine in the future.
We wanted to take advantage of the deck, so we each ordered a glass of wine to take outside. Being a weekday in September, we were the only visitors there and it was very peaceful where we were sitting. We did watch a few tasters come and go...but we were the only one's that opted to stay for awhile. We were told that many weddings take place on the grounds the the large, raised deck we were using is a great gathering area for the reception. I could certainly see wanting to hold an event here...and the wonderful wine they are producing on-site would be the best complement to any event.
When we went inside to purchase some wine before leaving, something special happened. The owner had shown up and was setting up a bench tasting to decide how much residual sugar should be in the next production of blackberry wine. Since we were the only visitors there at the time, we were offered seats for this special tasting. Keep in mind that they did not know we were with Winery Adventures, we just happened to be in the right place at the right time. We knew we would be late checking into our B&B if we stayed, but we couldn't pass up this opportunity to help decide the fate of the blackberry wine. A group of approximately eight people gathered and tasted and took notes, and tasted and took notes, and tasted and took notes...until finally a decision was made. It was a great honor to be a part of this decision making process and we felt very lucky to have been asked. It was a brand new experience for us.
After the bench tasting I bought some wine to take home...including a few bottle of the Baco Noir. I wasn't sure if I would ever be able to get it again. If you're traveling down the West Virginia Turnpike and see a sign for Daniel Vineyards, don't hesitate to stop by. They offer an elegant tasting experience in a beautiful and peaceful atmosphere...plus their wine are incredible.
Fisher Ridge Winery - We were unsure what to think when we first pulled in to this winery in Liberty, West Virginia...but what a pleasant surprise! When we pulled down the lane, we passed right by the tasting room and ended up driving down a long, gravel, dead-end road. We had initially passed the tasting room because some of the windows were boarded up and we thought they must have built a new one farther back the lane. We turned around and pulled up to the building we originally saw. We were greeted by Joey, who helps out at the winery. We had made an appointment to stop by Fisher Ridge and knew the owner would not be there....but he assured us someone would be there to help us.
Joey led us inside and started opening bottles of wine for us to sample. As we were sampling I stepped to the doorway to take a good look outside. The atmosphere was so charming and relaxing that I knew we would be staying awhile. There were some nice spots outdoors behind the tasting room where you could sit and take-in the country atmosphere and fresh air. Back in the tasting room....our host was setting out complimentary cheese and crackers...along with a special pepper butter that his wife Theresa makes from scratch. After our tasting he took us on a tour of the facilities and returned us to the tasting room where he invited us to fill our tasting glass with the wine of our choice. He suggested that we take our glasses of wine with us and go out and explore the vineyards...and that's exactly what we did. As we set off on our journey, he told us not to worry about wandering off the property because they had 50 acres and we could walk as far as we could see. Our walk was one of the most enjoyable aspects of the day. We wandered around the vineyards with three small dogs from the farm walking behind us.
Later we returned to the tasting room and purchased several wines to take home. I had been commenting on how much I enjoyed the homemade pepper butter and Joey told us to take the rest with us. I can't wait to take it to work and let some of my co-workers sample it. Living in Ohio, I had never tasted anything like it before.
Fisher Ridge Winery has no website and I found very little information on the internet. This is one winery that we really had to make an effort to go see. I found their phone number....made and appointment...and I'm glad I did. If you visit this charming winery...I suggest your make and appointment for a tasting...then take a blanket and a picnic lunch and plan on enjoying several hours at this relaxing country winery. Favorites: Muscato, Maiden's Kiss and Barrel Select 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon.
Forks of Cheat Winery - It was very easy to find this Morgantown, West Virginia winery. There were signs from the interstate directing us all the way. We were greeted at our car by a gentleman that was getting ready to take a couple of people on a tour. He said we might as well tag along because there was no one left in the tasting room. We agreed to go on the tour...even though I really wasn't wearing the right shoes for some of the terrain. At one point I fell far behind the group because I was afraid I was going to slide down the hill we had to descend. The tour was your usual, average winery tour. We've been on so many tours that it has become slightly boring.
After the tour, our guide took us into the tasting room for some sampling. Forks of Cheat produces a wide variety of wines and we found several that we wanted to taste. I was very impressed with the quality of their wines. It wasn't hard to find a few that I liked. This winery does an exceptional job with their Niagara. I also spent some time admiring their labels. They have some of the most interesting labels I've seen. I'm a collector and I've been known to buy a wine just for the label.
Forks of Cheat Winery had a nice deck in the back overlooking the West Virginia mountains. I wish our visit hadn't been so early in the day, or we would have purchased a bottle of wine and relaxed on the deck for awhile. The only dilemma would have been trying to decide which one of their delicious wines to purchase.
Kirkwood Winery - We had a heck of a time getting to this Summersville, West Virginia winery. Located far from any other WV winery in the midst of mountains and coal mining country, our GPS led us a bit astray. There was an easier way to get here from the other end of the road, but we drove over the mountain on a dirt road that looked like it led to nowhere. Once we descended the other side of the mountain, we felt a bit safer and finally found the winery we were looking for.
The winery is a rustic-looking building with a West Virginia mountain feel. Being a weekday morning, we were the only visitors at the winery...and I didn't realize until we arrived that there was also a new distillery on-site. I was hoping we wouldn't be offered any tastings from the distillery, because I wasn't sure I was up to spirits so early in the day. My winery adventures may seem like a dream vocation to some (and most times it is incredible), but sometimes it is very hard for me to start drinking right after breakfast. It just doesn't come natural to me.
We approached the tasting counter and our hostess introduced us to their long list of 35 wines. We knew we would need to pick and choose and this point and set out to select some wine to sample. Tiny plastic cups were placed on the counter (ugghh) and we started the tasting process. I was very excited to try the Baco Noir because I've tasted several exception Baco's in WV, but this one wasn't one of them. Actually I wasn't too impressed with any of the wines we sampled that day...but I did find two that were good enough to purchase. I did like the Concord Stomp (a slightly dry version of their regular concord) and the Red Currant (a bit of a tartness and not a bad fruit wine). No spirits were offered to us for sampling and I was quite happy about that.
Aside from wine there was a nice selection of locally made products offered for sale. I picked up some salsa for me and a small jug of maple syrup to take home to my son. I'm so glad the woman made a comment about the jug of moonshine I was purchasing...because I promptly put it back. I couldn't believe I almost bought my 11-year old son a jug of moonshine to pour on his pancakes. I did end up purchasing the two bottles of wine I mentioned - but overall I wasn't that excited about any of the wines I sampled at Kirkwood Winery.
Mountaineer Winery - When we first drove up to this Core, West Virginia winery, I have to admit that things looked a little unpromising. When we called the winemaker to schedule a visit, we were warned that a new building was under construction...but I was still a little taken back by our surroundings. It was apparent we were in the hills of West Virginia.
As promised in our phone conversation, the winemaker was waiting for us. He led us through the winemaking area and into the wine storage room. He pulled out a couple of paper cups for our tasting. (I think everyone knows how I feel about plastic cups...but I've never come across paper cups before. I've decided to let this one go since this winery does not provide regular tastings to the general public). We tried five or six of the Mountaineer wines...and I was very impressed. I especially liked the Baco Noir. He had a few bottles left, but has ceased production of this wine. We also had a barrel tasting of a very nice wine (I believe he said it was Red Fox). I would have bought this wine except he wasn't bottling it for a few days. He then took us to another area to try his peach wine, which he was in the process of bottling. It was a little drier than I normally like a fruit wine to be, but I knew I would be buying a bottle to take home to my friend Tammy. Dry peach is one of her favorites.
Mountaineer Winery is not generally open to the public for tastings. They mainly distribute their wines to local retailers. I did call ahead and schedule a tasting (not telling him we were from Winery Adventures), so I know he's available for tasting and sales with advance notice. If you you're up for a very different kind of tasting experience...with some great wines...give Mountaineer Winery a call. Favorite: Niagara.
Roane Vineyards- WOW! You'll be treated like family from the moment you walk into this winery located in Spencer, West Virginia. Roane Vineyards is situated down a lovely one-lane country road in rural West Virginia. As we drove up the drive toward the tasting room...we couldn't help but comment on what a lovely day it was for a winery adventure. It was sunny and 75 degrees...we couldn't have asked for better weather. When we arrived at the tasting room, we were greeted by one of the women that was at the winery doing some bottling. We were told that the owners has taken some customers for a walk in the vineyard and would be back shortly. She invited us to come watch the bottling process while we waited.
When we reached the bottling room...Mrs. Taylor had returned and walked us out to the lower vineyard. She took the time to show us where the different types of grapes were planted and explained some of the growing process. We then returned to the tasting room and chatted with Mrs. Taylor while she cut some apples and cheese and prepared to let us sample the wines. As we were sampling...Mr. Taylor returned from his vineyard trek with the other customers and took over as host of the tasting.
Paul Taylor is very passionate about his business. He loves what he does...and it shows. At one point he even went down to the bottling room and brought up a bottle of their blush wine that was being bottled that day. It hadn't been labeled yet, but he didn't want us to leave without trying it. After we had sampled all the wines we wanted to try...he poured a little more of our favorite into our glasses and sat down to talk with us for awhile.
We had an appointment for a tasting at another winery...and we were disappointed that we had to leave so soon. I would have liked to stay longer and spent some more time with the Taylors at their lovely winery. Roane Vineyards could make our favorites list based on hospitality alone...but add their exceptional wines and beautiful view....and you have a winery that surely receives one of our highest rankings. We hope time permits us to stop at Roane Vineyards again when we travel through West Virginia. Favorites: Country Lane and Harvest Red.