Before there was a Yadkin Valley American Viticultural Area (AVA), there was West Bend Winery in Lewisville. One of the oldest wineries and vineyards in the area, it was heartbreaking to many when it closed its doors in 2014. Wine lovers can rejoice now as the new West Bend Winery and Brewery has opened.
Walt and Sonia Breathwhit, the new owners of the property, said they couldn’t be happier to be reopening this special winery in the Yadkin Valley.
“Everybody’s thanked us for reopening, everybody’s very happy,” said Walt Breathwhit.
Breathwhit had a shipyard business in Texas prior to moving to Lewisville.
“I wanted to semi-retire and my wife said she wanted a winery so she found this one and here we are,” he explained.
A soft opening took place in October 2016 at the winery’s new event center, located in a 166-year-old farmhouse. The brand new tasting room and winery, located at 5394 Williams Road, celebrated its grand opening on Dec. 17, 2016.
Though West Bend has a brand new tasting room and production facility, much of the vineyard will remain the same. The vines were first planted by the original owners, Jack and Lillian Kroustalis, in the early 1970s and West Bend became a bonded winery in 1988.
Winemaker Ethan Brown said they will continue to use some of the original vines and in the future they may look at planting some different varieties.
Since their soft opening in October, Brown said the Chardonnay and Chambourcin had been the most popular of their wines. Brown said they will be adding additional wines to the tasting menu soon.
West Bend also will feature craft beer. Brown said they are starting with some of the basics, including a wheat, blonde, IPA and a brown ale. He said he plans to get more creative with the beers, including creating some beers which will be aged in wine barrels. A stout will be the next release.
Brown has grown up in the wine industry and is proud to be a part of West Bend.
“My family planted a vineyard when I was 10 years old, so I grew up working in the vineyard,” he said. He also remembers watching his grandfather make wine at home.
His family opened Olde Mill Winery in Surry County in 2010. Brown began his educational career in the wine making field while still in high school, beginning courses in a dual enrollment program at Surry Community College in the viticulture and enology department. He completed his degree from SCC in 2012 and went on to obtain a degree in chemistry fermentation from Appalachian State University.
With a loyal fan base that has eagerly awaited the reopening of this jewel of the Yadkin Valley Wine Region, the new West Bend Winery and Brewery is sure to be a success.
Breathwhit said he is thrilled to begin welcoming folks back to this winery. He said that most of all, he wanted everyone to feel welcome.
“We’re family oriented, kids are welcome, dogs are welcome. We’re family people and we welcome everybody to come and enjoy some wine and craft beer,” he said.
For more information, visit www.westbendwineryandbrewery.com, find West Bend Winery and Brewery on Facebook or call 336-945-9999.
Kitsey Burns Harrison may be reached at 336-679-2341 or on Twitter and Instagram @onthevinemag.