Forks of Cheat Winery
Summary: Forks of Cheat is definitely a winery to visit while traveling in West Virginia. The vineyards are located on slopes allowing cold air to slip past into the valley and save the vineyards from frost damage. A large pavilion is available for special events. The winery also has a label making business and can quickly produce personal wine labels. When visiting Forks of Cheat, check out the intriguing gift selection in The Hobbit’s Attic just up the stairs!
Jerry and Susan Deal are the owners of Forks of Cheat Winery, located near the Cheat River. After years of work as a realtor and now a commercial appraiser, Jerry has discovered his true passion of growing wine grapes in West Virginia.
This wine passion was discovered after a neighbor berated Jerry for eating a few of her grapes on his side of the fence. The following year, 1985, Jerry made the decision and followed through with planting 500 vines on a piece of 50 acres of pasture he already owned. This has now expanded into the current vineyard of 15 acres and winery that is also the site of weddings and other events. The 15-acre vineyard includes Seyval Blanc, Vidal Blanc, Baco Noir, Chambourcin, DeChaunac, Marechal Foch, Leon Millot and Villard. American grapes include Niagara, Catawba, and Van Buren. The winery also produces many fruit wines. Currently the most popular wine is the Catawba. Forks of Cheat is the only West Virginia winery to produce a pomegranate wine.
The climate of West Virginia can be difficult to work with but the issues are surmountable. Jerry believes that vineyards are best placed on slopes as cold air generally settles into low areas. Jerry has never lost a crop of grapes to frost. With the state’s many hillsides, it has a great environment for growing wine grapes.
A children’s vineyard was added close to the pavilion. Jerry lets children go into this vineyard and pick the seedless grapes and eat them. He added, “I am the biggest child, I like eating those grapes!”
Jerry has a passion for the outdoors. He is usually the first one at the winery and vineyards each morning. He prefers working with the vines to being the winemaker and therefore leaves the winemaking to his son. Besides maintaining the vineyards, Jerry also landscapes the tasting room facility, balcony and pavilion.
We began our tasting with the Van Buren, a native American grape in the labrusca family. It had an 8 percent residual sugar. This wine had a Welch’s Concord aroma and taste. The Kool-Aid generation would love this wine. Seyval Blanc with 0 percent residual sugar offered a citrus aroma and taste. The finish was crisp. This wine would pair well with a variety of white cheeses. Vidal Blanc offered a floral aroma with an accent of roses. The taste had citrus nuances with hints of grass. The wine dries on the aftertaste. Burgundy was a blend of Marechal Foch and Leon Millot. This wine had a red/orange color. The aroma and taste had notes of grass and tobacco. There were nuances of tobacco on the finish.
Tasting Room and The Hobbit's Attic
The Forks of Cheat tasting room offers a variety of food items to browse while visiting. Check out the chili mix, garlic, relish, pickled beets, olives and dips. A stairway leads to The Hobbit’s Attic. This second floor area offers an array of unique and unusual gift items that may appeal to someone on your gift list. Some of the items you may find include model wood ships, clocks, globes, stained glass, night-lights, ceramics, stuffed animals and jewelry. Be sure to take time to browse this delightful collection during your visit.
Forks of Cheat Winery
2811 Stewartstown Road
Morgantown, WV 26508
GPS: N39º 42.470’ W79º 53.285’
Visit this winery that partners with Wine Trail Traveler.