The words “Old World” and “mead” may conjure medieval images, but Old World Libations in Greenville is less than five years old and it is already expanding.
The young business has constructed a more than 7,000-square-foot production, tasting and sales area surrounded by a 750-square-foot covered back porch and matching side deck.
The new facility is expected to be finished for a Fall Cider Pressing and Wine Tasting event planned along Monroe County’s Indian Creek this weekend. Fresh, unpasteurized apple cider will be processed outside, providing lots of fresh air and plenty of room for social distancing.
The new facility will feature a temperature-controlled wine room, office, and a 150-square-foot event area, plus a living room/meeting space overlooking a massive balcony. The facility is designed as an amazing place for meetings, weddings, anniversaries, date night, a venue for live music, happy hour and many other events. The winery has contributed to the community by hosting fundraising events for Reigning Warriors, Monroebotics and other groups.
Visitors are welcome to venture along mown paths, or down to the creek — popular with families who have been carrying picnics, cider, wine and mead throughout the pandemic as a way to get peace, quiet and a breath of clean air. Various types of cheese and crackers that compliment wine and fresh cider can be enjoyed along the creek while apples are being released of their precious juices. Unfortunately, COVID-19 did begin a trek across the country, but it created an opportunity for families to seek alternative ways to entertain.
“It’s been amazing,” said co-owner April Ernst. “When the state shut down, families would bring lunch and sit by the water with a bottle of wine. It’s truly wonderful. Everyone is craving to get outside to enjoy themselves.”
The uncovered deck is perfect for stargazing while lying on a blanket, or bring a telescope to watch celestial events away from the glare of light pollution.
“Our goal at Old World Libations is simple,” explains April Ernst. “We [the Ernst family] strive to create a wholesome, family-friendly winery experience, strengthen our local community, and grow superior quality fruit in an environmentally sustainable manner.”
April and husband, Scott Ernst, craft their beverages using mostly locally-grown produce including fruit from their 1,820 grapevines bearing six varieties of grapes — three each for red and white wines; and 220 heirloom orchard trees growing such species as English cider apples, apricots and paw-paws.
While wines are made from a combination of fruit, water, yeast and sugar, meads are made using honey to make it anywhere from bone dry to extra sweet, April Ernst said. Mead can be produced with only honey or nearly any combination of quality fruit, spices or herbs.
Bottles are hand-dipped in colors assigned to each type of wine and they bear labels produced and written by Scott Ernst.
“Each [bottle] has a different look,” April explained, “[All are] appealing to the eye.”
Beverages were titled with family in mind. Empty Nest was named the day April Ernst took her youngest daughter to college for the very first time. Greedy Sisters Strawberry Wine was dubbed when Scott Ernst’s two sisters devoured the first bottles of the strawberry concoction before he had a chance to sample them. Iron Wolf Lithuanian Inspired Mead was created after a family friend related a story of the old Canis lupus legend. Friendship Red Wine depicts “Fud” the duck, “Leo” the cat and “Annabelle” the Great Pyrenees puppy, who were all best buddies.
“Fud” actually believes she is a dog while cuddling with the farm’s current Pyrenees, April Ernst said.
Old World Libations’ beverages include cider, hard cider, meads, and red and white wines ranging from dry to sweet.
To fulfill its mission statement of producing superior products sustainably, old World Libations states, “We accomplish this by building mutually beneficial networks with our farmers, artisans, customers and labor force. We respect the environment and will never lose sight of the simplicity and effectiveness of old-world traditions. Our efforts combine to produce the finest wine, ciders and meads that nature has to offer. Quality is our hallmark that will not be compromised.”
Reemphasizing the importance of quality fruit in wine production, April Ernst noted the final result will suffer “if you don’t start with good produce. We won’t put in sugar just to mask bad produce.”
The Fall Cider Pressing and Wine Tasting event is planned for Saturday, October 31, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sunday, November 1, 1-5 p.m.; and during the same hours for Saturday, November 7, and Sunday, November 8.
The winery tends to sell out quickly, so Old World Libations requests preorders of cider be made at OldWorldWV.com, all other sales of cider are on a first come-first served basis at 3493 Greenville Road, Union, WV, 24983.
Regular operating hours will be set once the building is complete. Special appointments can also be made. Visit Old World Libations’ website or Facebook page for more information.