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Annual West Virginia Wine & Arts Festival in Martinsburg, W.Va., begins Saturday

Annual West Virginia Wine & Arts Festival in Martinsburg, W.Va., begins Saturday

May 21, 2009|By CRYSTAL SCHELLE

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- Arts Centre Board President Mary Lewis says the Wine & Arts Festival is more than just wine, artisans and song. It's about a sense of community.

"People make time for it," Lewis says. "We have a lot of repeat customers."

The two-day event highlights West Virginia wineries, accompanied by some homegrown musicians and artisans, all on the lawn of Boydville near Martinsburg High School.

Lewis has been involved with the festival for about 11 years, first as a volunteer and then as board member.

As board president, she helps to coordinate what is the largest fundraising event for The Arts Centre. The money raised has helped to expand classes and after-school programs.

One new activity for this year's festival is a cooking demonstration by professional chefs from the Quad State Appalachian Valley chapter of the American Culinary Federation. The chefs will use wines available for tasting at the festival. The demonstrations will be from 2 to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

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Susan Deal, owner of Forks of Cheat Winery, of Morgantown, W.Va., says she and her husband, Jerry, have been bringing their wine to the West Virginia Wine & Arts Festival for years.

Deal says she likes these types of events for consumers because it's a chance to be educated about wines. "And it's a good way to learn what you like," she says.

Although sommeliers might have a different take on what a person should look for in a wine, Deal says it's simply about a person's palate.

"The big thing is just to look for something you enjoy and for the flavor," she says.

At Forks of Cheat Winery, one of their most popular wines is Chambourcin, which she says has a grapey taste. She tells people that the wine, which runs about $13 a bottle, is a good wine to start tasting.

Forks of Cheat buys fresh fruits, such as apples, peaches and pears, from the Martinsburg area. These are used in the winery's fruit wines. Deal says, there will be a festival special using the fruits.

The Deals opened up the small winery in 1990.

"It was sort of like 'Jurassic Park,'" she says. "It was a hobby that got out of control."

She says her husband was an amateur wine maker, eventually winning awards at the amateur level. Friends encouraged them to open their own winery. They did as a part-time business, which grew into the six-person business it is today.

This time of year, Deal says the winery is just starting to take care of the vines in preparation of the growing season. That's why, she says, she enjoys going to events such as The Arts Centre's festival.

They are able to see other vintners and take a quick peek at what they have for sale. "After a while, wine making is like a fraternity. You meet your friends and then meet for dinner afterward," she says. "There's a lot of work for it, but it's a lot of fun."




If you go ...



WHAT: West Virginia Wine & Arts Festival

WHEN: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, May 23, and 1 to 6 p.m. Sunday, May 24

WHERE: Lawn of Boydville, 601 S. Queen St., Martinsburg, W.Va.

COST: $15 (includes free glass); $10 for ages 13 to 20; and free for children 12 and younger

MORE: For more information, go to www.wvartsfestival.com . For more information about The Arts Centre, go to www.theartscentre.org .

o Click here for a complete schedule of music.

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