By TRINA RUNNER
News & Journal Staff Writer
For the last 25 years, mid-September has been the perfect time to take a ride through the changing leaves on Route 19 and pull off to visit Kirkwood Winery’s Grape Stomping Festival. Much like the name suggests, there are ample opportunities to roll up the jeans and get some one-on-one stomping time with the grapes in an effort to experience one part of the wine making process.
Kirkwood Winery has the distinction of being the first vineyard in the region, located just three miles north of Summersville. Like many small wineries, it took a few years of battling the harsh West Virginia winters before owner Rodney Facemire was able to perfect the process and produce 40 tons of grapes annually. Facemire also expanded his blackberry, raspberry, and blueberry fields as well as his rhubarb patch. The result is over six acres that produce over 4,000 gallons of wine annually.
As the winery grew, they wanted to share the process with visitors, which led to the creation of the Grape Stomping Festival in 1992. The festival is always held the third week of September and will take place on September 17 and 18 for the 25th anniversary of the festival.
The family-friendly atmosphere of the festival is a perfect reflection of the history of Appalachia and the culture so important to the Mountain State. The artisans and musicians featured during the two-day festival also embrace the heritage of West Virginia. Filled with bluegrass, country, and rock, the festival provides the perfect soundtrack for enjoying all the activities.
Each admission includes a free glass, and wine tasting and food vendors are on site all day. Along with covered wagon rides and grape stomping contests, the festival will also feature crafts and kids’ activities. There will also be door prize drawings all day, including the chance to win a free rafting trip. Saturday will also showcase local favorites, the Davisson Brothers Band.
The country store is full of unique gift items, including jellies, home décor, baskets, salsas and more. Distillery tours are available on every day except Sunday and the winery also has a wide selection of wine and beer making equipment. Additional information for the winery and the 2016 Grape Stomping Festival can be found at www.kirkwood-wine.com.