West Virginia, with its twenty wineries is an up and coming state for wine grape growing and winemaking. Now as travelers pass over roads in this beautiful state, they can stop at wineries and taste some of the wines produced in West Virginia. Less than 100 acres of wine grapes are grown in this state. Winemakers need to source some fruit from outside the state.
Grapes do well on the mountain hillsides. If planted high enough, there is little risk of spring frosts. Native American grapes including Niagara, Fredonia, Delaware and Concord do well in West Virginia vineyards. French hybrids including Seyval Blanc, Vidal Blanc, Aurore and Marechal Foch also have a foothold in many vineyards. Research is being conducted on cold weather varieties such as Frontenac and St. Croix. Many of the wineries also produce wine from fruits such as apple, peach, blueberries, blackberries and strawberries.
Shenandoah Valley also in Virginia
Kanawha River Valley
Ohio River Valley also in Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio
The wine industry began prior to the Civil War. The first winery was established in the 1850’s in Dunbar near Charleston. The Dutch Hollow Wine Cellars constructed three cellars of stone to cool and age the wine. Wine would be carted to Charleston where it would then be shipped to Cincinnati. Production continued until 1861 when labor became too expensive due to the Civil War. Today the cellars are listed on the National Register of Historic Places although wine has not been made there for over a century.
On the hillside above the cellars, it is believed that Catawba grapes were planted, but replaced with Concord and Niagara.