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Our Roots

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, South Carolina 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.























Roger helped 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 Mountain Lake.
  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 Extension, the 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.




In 1992, 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 production. 

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 Sauvignon.

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 restaurants.