Heritage Port Filled With Wine and Jazz

WHEELING – Washington, Pa., resident Tom Conley was enjoying not only his wine, but the scenery at Heritage Port Saturday.

Though he has been to Wheeling several times for Nailers hockey games, it was his first visit to the Wheeling Wine & Jazz Festival, or any event, at the waterfront.

“A couple people I work with talked about it and I thought it might be a good idea,” Conley said of the festival. “It’s nice.”

For a fee, festivalgoers drank samples of wine from various West Virginia wineries until their heart’s content. Bottles of wine also were for sale. New this year were two beer brewers including one based in Wheeling – the Basement Brewery, 623 Main St.

James Schulte, who co-owns the brewery with Chad Hill and David Cornett, said it was his first time participating in the festival.

He described the business as a nanobrewery because the beer is made in small batches in the basement of a house in North Wheeling.

Schulte said he brews one to three times per week, though some beers take only a couple weeks to finish while others take a couple months. Their main business is as a wholesaler. The beer can be purchased at various bars in the area, such as Generations Pub and Quaker Steak & Lube, but they hope to open their own pub in the future.

“We wanted to make beer we like and not mimic any other beer,” Schulte said.

Festival co-founder Derrick McKee said the event has grown steadily each year.

“It’s amazing how much it has grown. It started with four wineries and 400 people and last year we had 12 wineries and 1,200 people,” McKee said. “It keeps growing and growing – you can’t beat it. It’s a new and different thing that Wheeling needed.”