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A grape story in West Virginia

Legend has it that after Jerry Deal, co-owner of Forks of Cheat Winery and Distillery in Morgantown, W.Va., got caught stealing grapes from his neighbor’s lawn, he decided to grow his own.

“In no time, the grapevines were so productive that he couldn’t eat them all, so he had to figure out what to do with all his bounty,” said Susan Deal, Jerry’s wife and spokesperson.

Today, visitors enjoy 16 acres of vineyards amidst the Appalachian Mountains that also include fruit trees, blackberries and more. The little enterprise that started in one room at the Deals’ weekend getaway has expanded into a 5,000-square-foot facility with a tasting and sales area.

The Deals produce more than 19,000 gallons of wine a year, as well as an award-winning applejack brandy, fruit flavored liqueurs, grappa, rum and peach moonshine.

“No one should come to West Virginia and go home without moonshine,” insisted Deal.

A tour of the venue includes an up-close look at the fermenting containers where grapes are crushed, storage containers used for aging and the still where mash is boiled to produce stronger alcohol.

“Our tasting room offers distilled spirits as well as wine,” said Deal.

Deal enthusiastically invites visitors to also spend time at the Pavilion, a pastoral space offering views of flowerbeds, a koi pond, rolling hills and, of course, grapevines.

Deal added, “Groups can arrange to have a catered meal, but we’re happy to offer meats, cheeses and crackers that pair well with our beverages.”