Our vines roots go dam deep!
The Furrows are Roanoke natives
going back generations. Roger Furrow was born on the side of Cahas Mountain,
near Boones Mill. After graduating from Virginia Tech, Roger served in
the Air Force and married Judy Weaver, the daughter of a Clover Creamery milkman
in Roanoke. His engineering degree and career eventually took them to Detroit,
and Greensboro before settling back in this area.
Roger's father, Roy Furrow,
was a WWII Army Infantry veteran of D-Day+9 to Ardennes. Roy had a talent for steel engineering. Roy's work eventually
landed him at a new dam project on the Roanoke River. He worked on the
giant crane gondolas that carried the cement over the river to build the
Smith Mountain Lake dam.
his father at the construction site one day and took these photos himself.
As the dam neared
completion, Roy and Alberta Furrow decided to sell their small vacation cabin on
distant Bugg's Island (Kerr Lake) and buy lake property here, nearer their
Roanoke home. He found 3 acres on the Radford Ford Road at the 800' level in the
planned lake zone.
Roy and Alberta built a deck-wrapped vacation cabin there as
the lake filled up to meet them.
The early lake years were
far different than today's busy shoreline.
Roger & Judy and their
children, along with the rest of the extended Furrow family, began to
weekend at his parent's cabin over the summers. They built a houseboat and would
anchor the days away in quiet coves, often never seeing another soul on the
water. Their children Wendy and Tad grew up in this environment, coming out
to the lake most every weekend in the summers.
After years of
making home-made wine and growing a few grape plants as a hobby, Roger
and Judy Furrow planted their first serious grape vineyard in 1984 on
the shores of Hickory Cove on Smith
This was a small 250 vine, experimental vineyard. Five
different varieties were planted to see how they did in the area. After
making wine from their own vines, talking with other Virginia
winemakers and taking classes from Virginia Tech and the Agricultural
Furrows decided they wanted to have a vineyard as a retirement
business. They also discovered the lake property with the first vineyard
was far too small to support a true commercial venture.
the Furrows started a second, larger vineyard on a nearby farm, and
began commercial grape production on 5 acres with three grape varieties-
Cabernet Sauvignon, Vidal Blanc and Chardonnay.
At 21 years the vines are just starting to fully mature, and it is now the
oldest producing wine vineyard in Bedford county & around the lake.
In the beginning, the vineyard was tended on weekends and the grapes
sold to nearby Stonewall Vineyards.
The Furrows enjoyed wine-making from
it and decided to renovate the old farmhouse into a full-fledged
winery, a task that took far longer than they expected. Roger retired in
1996 and devoted the next few years into the remodeling. The old
sleeping porch was torn off and a new tank room made, and the entire
house had to be braced on stilts as the foundation was replaced to allow
water, septic and level floors for the winery. The Furrows also built a
new home on the farm to live in.
In 2001 Hickory Hill became the
75th winery licensed in Virginia, and the Furrows began commercial wine
The farmhouse dining room was renovated and used as the
tasting room. Simple beginnings turned out to be the best for them as
the winery business slowly grew, as did their wine making skills. Their
first wine competition medal was a bronze for their 2001 Estate Cabernet
In 2002 their daughter Wendy joined them full time, learning
wine making from her parents.
After a long apprenticeship Wendy's
husband Donald joined them in 2005 as
full time vigneron.
In 2006 they built a new winery
building beside the farmhouse and moved operations there, eventually
converting the old tank room into an attractive new tasting room with a
view of the vineyard.
In 2009 they began to expand the vineyard,
planting additional Vidal Blanc.Currently
Hickory Hill grows 10-12 tons of it's own fruit, leases an additional vineyard 10 miles away for 10 more tons of fruit, and bottles 18000 bottles of wine per year. Besides the tasting room,
their wine is carried in local stores and