WHEELING - "The great thing about West Virginia wineries is that we are farm wineries," said Bryan George, owner of Vu ja de Vineyards (www.vujadevineyards.com and Facebook). "At our winery, we have farm animals and dogs; we grow vegetables. It really is farm to table. You can still be a small winery and make it."
George and his wife, Ali, moved from San Francisco to West Virginia to develop the winery, and, he added, "have been blessed ever since." They, in particular, practice sustainable farming and use organic and biodynamic methods "about 60 percent of the time." West Virginia's moist climate fosters mold, and there is no organic remedy to protect plants from that.
The Georges' style is about keeping the batches small and the quality high. They raise some select French hybrid grapes on site, but get others from trusted sources in California, Chile and along the shores of Lake Erie.
Wineries from the state of West Virginia will showcase their tastes and bottles at the sixth annual Wheeling Wine and Jazz Festival next Saturday, Aug. 24 from 4 to 10 p.m. at Heritage Port.
Vu ja de Vineyards will be one of several wineries serving up tastes and bottles at the sixth annual Wheeling Wine and Jazz Festival next Saturday, Aug. 24 from 4 to 10 p.m. at Heritage Port. Event chair Jeremy Morris says all are from West Virginia and will include Cascarelli's Old Country Wines, WineTree Vineyards, Kirkwood Winery and Lambert's Vintage Wine.
Cascarelli's Old Country Wines is a small family winery specializing in sweet wines. WineTree Vineyards is also family run and produces a range of traditional wines from dry to sweet. Kirkwood Winery and Isaiah Morgan Distillery was the first winery in the region nearly 30 years ago and creates mountain heritage wines from fruits and vegetables, as well as traditional wines from French hybrids. Lambert's Vintage Wines has something for every palate, from dry Cabernet Franc to sweet White Zinfandel and the spectrum in between. In fact, Lambert's will be both a wine and food vendor, bringing their wood-fired pizza to the festival. Morris notes that there will be barbeque, and Rolling Smoke will be selling their fish tacos.
Music for the event will be provided by the Travis Hoard Ensemble and Chris Barrick Group, both from Wheeling. The Bob Thompson Unit will be headlining, described as a "contemporary, funk jazz band" from Charleston.
Morris said at least 12 art and antique vendors will be joining the festivities, and Wheeling's Basement Brewery will bring their libations. Good Mansion Wines will present a special tasting, "Wines from Around the World." At each hour on the hour, they'll pour wine from a different country.
Last year, according to Morris, attendance grew to around 1,100. The festival began as a C City of Wheeling marketing department program to utilize the Heritage Port. It is now run by Downtown Wheeling Inc., a nonprofit, and part of the festival proceeds will help fund an improvement project for downtown next year.
Tickets are $20 per person at the gate. There are no pre-purchase tickets. Morris urges everyone to check the "Wheeling Wine and Jazz Festival" Facebook page for updates and more information.
Bryan George is looking forward to his third year at the Wheeling festival. He'll be bringing "two big reds," Vu ja de's Power of Love white - a 50/50 blend of Chardonnay and Riesling - and their "famous Sangria."
"The thing about the Wheeling festivals is that we get such devoted fans," added George. "It's always great to see everyone."