Coming Back Home to Roost
Although his family arrived in the Greenbrier Valley in the mid 1700s, Frank Tuckwiller was one of those kids raised on a farm that believed there was another/better/easier way to live. He served in the Marine Corps for over 20 years and then ran a business in the area, transitioning it to his son successfully when he decided to retire. It was only then, upon retirement, that Frank and Barbara bought some land across from the family farm in 1997 and established Watts Roost Vineyard.
Building a vineyard and a winery from the ground up takes a series of trial and error to find grapes that will flourish in the climate and produce wine that is marketable in this region. Frank found that French-American hybrids grow well and several varietals developed by Cornell University, Noriet and Traminette, are proving to be highly successful at Watts Roost. Having leaves analyzed to determine what is needed for nutrients for best growth and to prevent disease has permitted them to eliminate all chemicals of concern from their cultivation. Last year they produced 2252 bottles from the harvest.
Watts Roost wines are found in stores and restaurants in Greenbrier, Raleigh and Sumers County, in the Capitol Market in Charleston, in the Eastern Panhandle, Inwood, Shepherdstown and Provence Market in Bridgeport. They hope to expand marketing to other areas of West Virginia soon.
The Tuckwillers find that attending festivals is a busy but enjoyable way to introduce their wine to people as well as enter and win many competition. In June, we met up with Frank at Wine and All that Jazz in Charleston. Watts Roosts will be found August 25 at the Wheeling Wine & Jazz, September 8 and 9 at the WV Wine & Jazz at Camp Muffly near Morgantown, September 28-30 at the Mountain Heritage Festival in Harper’s Ferry and October 5-7 at the Ogelbay Festival in Wheeling. Preparing for a festival takes some effort: all the wine must be chilled and nine people are needed to help handle the demand for tastings and sales. Frank reported he sold 25 cases of wine in 8 hours in Charleston in June and over 100 cases in Morgantown which he attributes to a large college-age population.
The Tuckwillers also raise about 100 head of sheep on their farm. They are able to sell wool from the Cotswolds breed on the internet but the wool from the crossbreeds they also raise currently has little to no market value. Meat is processed at a USDA facility in the area and is served at the Greenbrier as well as other restaurants throughout the Northeast.
Frank and Barbara Tuckwiller
2245 Blue Sulphur Pike Lewisburg, WV 24901
304-645-5308 or 304-667-8843