VIENNA, W.Va. — The art of winemaking spans several generations of Craig Bandy's family.
He says legend has it that his ancestors made wine in Czechoslovakia. He has spent several decades perfecting his own winemaking skills.
He and his wife, Candice, run WineTree Vineyards in Wood County where they tend the grapes and make the wine on site. They purchased the 26-acre tract of land in 2001 and opened the winery July 4, 2008.
"We are a West Virginia farm winery," said Craig, 58. "In West Virginia you must have a farm and grow your grapes. Twenty-five percent of your volume must be grown on the farm. We are not large enough to grow all the grapes. We grow 100 percent of some varieties."
They now have three acres with 800 plants and plans for doubling that next year.
"All operations are done on the farm," he said. "It gets you in tune with the grape."
Candice prunes each of the 800 plants by hand, a task she finds relaxing and rewarding as hours fly by.
"This is my therapy," she said. "I love coming here and working with the plants. When I prune, I envision what I am cutting off and what I am leaving behind. I enjoy that."
It's a tricky business protecting the vines from hungry birds and deer. A couple of mixed breed guard dogs, Beemer and Hannah, help.
Meanwhile, Craig focuses upon getting each batch of wine perfected inside the winery filled with spotless stainless steel tanks.
"I have seven varieties in here," he said one recent day. "I have 23 labels. We blend some of these."
Hummingbird is a blend of three varieties. The winery offers a selection of reds, whites and sweets with experiments ongoing for additional kinds. Noiret, a dry red wine, and Riesling, a dry white, were bronze winners in national competitions of the American Wine Society. At Wine & All That Jazz held in Charleston each year, three wines garnered awards. Black Tie, a red semi-dry, and Traminette, a dry white with a spicy aroma, were bronze winners. Their Chardonnay won a silver.
The Bandys take pride in producing the best products possible in the cleanest conditions.