Three Sisters of Shiney Rock
Summary: Three Sisters of Shiney Rock is located in Southern Virginia near the North Carolina border. In a successful attempt to keep the family farm in the family, three sisters gathered together and with the help of a resourceful brother-in-law created the Three Sisters of Shiney Rock Winery. According to Ed Graham, who planted the vineyards and is the winemaker, “You’ll have fun here. People like to come and just talk. It’s a fun place. You get to meet and learn about people who get to learn about you.”
On a cool and windy winter day in early February, we traveled to a small winery located on a 77-acre farm owned by three sisters. When their parents passed away, the sisters decided to continue the legacy of their parents by keeping the family farm in the family. The three sisters Beth Graham, Susan Coates and Kay Candelora needed to find a way to pay for the upkeep and taxes on the farm.The sisters turned to Ed who is married to Beth Graham and he suggested that the best way would be to “make alcohol.” Eventually they decided to plant a vineyard and make wine. Ed planted the vineyards with Muscadine, a grape he was familiar with. He planted enough Muscadine grapevines and blackberries to keep the farm afloat.
Ed noted that the farm has been in the three sisters' family since 1911. Ed’s wife remembers living in a small farm house close to the road, which at different times was used as a barn and as a bar. When the farm passed to the sisters, they needed to find a way to make it profitable.
We learned the story of Three Sisters of Shiney Rock from Ed who walked with us to the three-acre vineyard that is home to the vibrant Muscadine grapevines - Noble and Magnolia. He talked about how the Muscadine grapevines can grow 100 feet and do not need pruning. Later in the winery/office we tasted four wines. The sitting area was complete with comfortable chairs and the winemaking area was adjacent. On one wall of the tasting area there is a creative adaptation of a Renoir. To the painting, Ed creatively added vineyards. We quickly learned that in addition to all of Ed’s other talents he also paints for enjoyment.
Ed grew up in Georgia and recalls eating Muscadine grapes from the grape arbor. He and his sister enjoyed eating the sweet juicy grapes. Ed explained to us how his interest in wine began at the early age of 14 when his mother purchased a wine kit. Together they crafted the wine. With a smile Ed recalls trying to sell the wine from his high school locker. When the wine leaked out of its container, the odor of the wine was noticed and ended his early days of selling wine. Early on Ed noticed that he liked Muscadine wine.
Ed wants the winery to be fun. When in need of help, Ed will call the second generation of families and they are happy to bring their families to the winery to harvest the grapes and help make the wine. With the help of extended family they are producing about 165 cases of wine. When family comes to help, Ed sets up a type of assembly line for a smooth operation. He likes to involve everyone in the winemaking process. The next generation has already suggested adding more vineyards to the farm property. Ed has no desire to have the winery grow large. He believes that increasing the grape varieties in the vineyard is for the next generation.
The wines at Three Sisters of Shiney Rock include four non-traditional style wines. We tasted all four wines. Our tasting began with the Bodacious Blackberry wine which was a translucent red color. The aroma and taste were of blackberries. The residual sugar was 50 g/l and the wine dried on the finish. The Shiney Rock Gold Apple Wine was a light yellow color. The wine offered notes of apples. It was crisp with a tartness and sweetness at the same time. The wine was full-bodied.
Two muscadine grape wines were tasted. Voluptuous Maid 2015 was produced with the Magnolia grape. This light yellow wine was sweet with grapy notes. The mouthfeel was smooth. Sweet Nannie 2014 was produced with the Noble grape. The wine was a translucent reddish pink color. It was sweet and grapy.
Wine travelers who like sweet wines and muscadine wines will want to stop by Three Sisters of Shiney Rock. Visitors are likely to meet Ed Grahm who provides an interesting dialogue about the farm and its development into a vineyard and winery. Do call ahead for their special open hours or for an appointment.
Three Sisters of Shiney Rock
5484 Shiney Rock Road
Clarksville, Virginia 23927
GPS: N36 33.099 78 35.966
Article written February 2017.
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