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Wine flows at W.Va. festival

May 31, 2004|By DAVE McMILLION

MARTINSBURG, W.VA.

Eric Deal was selling wine so fast at West Virginia's Wine and Arts, Food and Brews Festival in Martinsburg on Sunday he barely had time to talk.

Sweat formed on Deal's brow as he grabbed wine bottle after wine bottle from a reserve under his tent and placed them on a table for customers.

One man bought $66 worth of wine.

Another man remarked about the tastiness of the Niagara wine produced at Deal's Forks of Cheat Winery near Morgantown, W.Va.

"I'm going to sell out of that," Deal said.

The scene was the same at other tents where vintners sold wine on the grounds of the Boydville Inn on South Queen Street.

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Although final proceeds were not available Sunday afternoon, the eighth annual festival was on its way to possibly being one of the most successful, spokesman Hoy Shingleton said.

More than 1,000 people attended the festival Saturday, allowing the event to generate about as much money as it did for the entire two-day event last year, said Shingleton, president of the event's board of directors.

Festivalgoers continued to stream into the Boydville Inn grounds Saturday at 6 p.m. for wine tasting and buying, even though the event closed at 7, Shingleton said.

"I saw two guys (who) I know carried 10 cases out of here. We were kidding them because they were really rolling with it," Shingleton said.

Shingleton and vintners said the pleasant, sunny weather over the weekend probably helped bring out the crowds.

While some wine fans crowded around the vintner stands, others relaxed under the massive shade trees on the Boydville Inn property. The mood was further enhanced by sounds from bands such as Jr. Cline and the Recliners, the Cathy Ponton King Band and Scooter Scudieri.

Owners of seven wineries based in locations from Roane County, W.Va., to Keyser, W.Va., participated in this year's festival. Some of the most popular micro breweries also participated this year.

For $10 admission, festivalgoers were given a wine glass. Samples of wines from the vintners were free.

Vintner Anna-Neale Taylor and her family traveled the farthest for the festival. The Taylors' vineyard - Roane Vineyard - is near Charleston, W.Va. Among their offerings are elderberry wine, produced from elderberries that grow in abundance in the Roane County countryside.

The Taylors bought 10 acres for their winery in 1995, hoping to get into something new after retiring as schoolteachers.

"I wanted horses. He wanted grapes," Taylor said.

Niles Bernick and his wife, Rosalie, of Falling Waters, W.Va., came to the festival for the first time Sunday. Bernick said he likes wine and wanted to see what the event was like.

Ryan Murphy said he often goes to the West Virginia Wine and Jazz Festival in Morgantown, where he went to college. Murphy just had one request of festival organizers: more food.

There were four food outlets, billed as "Taste of the Town."

"I like the cicadas. They give a nice nature feel," joked Rick Current, a friend of Murphy's.

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