Frank and Elizabeth Dix are new to the wine and whiskey business, and proud of it.
Kirkwood Winery planted its roots in Summersville back in the 1980s when Rodney Facemire started the vineyard with his two sons, literally from the ground up. Facemire started out making the wine himself, entering county fairs with it before turning his setup into the well-known winery that went on to operate for the following 15 years. His half-brother joined in 2002, expanding the business to include what would become the Isaiah Morgan Distillery, and he ran the business until 2017.
That’s when it fell into the Dixes’ laps. At the time, they were in the residential rental business and heard some rental property owned by Kirkwood was going up for sale. “We were interested in the rental property, but they wanted to sell Kirkwood with it,” says Frank Dix. “We weren’t too sure about that but decided that we would just take a leap of faith.” That grand leap threw them into the world of fermenting and distilling around 30 unique wines and three types of whiskey. “It’s hard work, but we’re used to that. It’s a 24/7 job for the both of us,” says Elizabeth Dix.
The Dixes didn’t stop at the wine and whiskey business—they’ve broken into the wedding business, too. “We had a building out front that we renovated and turned into a meeting and event space,” says Elizabeth Dix. The pavilion overlooks the broad expanse of vineyards and countryside, a stunning backdrop for newlyweds looking for the perfect outdoor space to say “I do.” “It stays booked up quite a bit! It’s made things a lot busier here.”
The Dixes bring an unmistakable pride of place to their operations. Three of their most unique and popular fermentations include ramp wine—a distinctive regional flavor for some of your favorite dishes—as well as dandelion wine and rhubarb wine, two options you’re unlikely to find in your supermarket.
“We are definitely an Appalachian winery, and we love being from West Virginia,” Frank Dix says with satisfaction. “We love being in mom and pop stores around the state and in local restaurants and selling other local West Virginia–made products in our stores.”