Iron Heart – A Rich History and a Cast of Characters
The Iron Heart Winery is a great little winery. After one visit, it has become one of our favorites. What makes this winery so interesting is its history.
Benjamin Clements mined saltpeter on this land during the Revolutionary War. Then when the war was over, he was awarded the land for his contribution as a soldier.
Years later, another soldier would loom large in Iron Heart’s history. WR Tipton would join the Confederacy, fight pneumonia and Union troops, survive a gunshot wound and, finally, get captured by Union troops and held as a prisoner of war. In 1881, he started the Reed Island Iron Company on the land Iron Heart now occupies. He would, over time, build up the company and then sell pieces of it. He grew it into a thriving community, with 63 tenant houses, 4 general stores, 2 mines, a post office, a flour mill, a doctor and even a hotel.
“A good man gone. A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches. An honest man is the noble strength of God.”WR Tipton
It is these remnants of the community that serve as the basis for Iron Heart’s unique charm. The owners have refurbished many of the buildings from the former boom town. The winery itself is a renovation of the old corn crib.
Meet the Owners — Father and Son
The owners, Adam and Bruce Fariss, are a father and son team who obviously love the place and its history. They were both born and raised on this land — 50 years apart! The son has an infectious love of the place. In between wine tastings, he can tell you all about Iron Heart’s history.
This brings me to the father in the father and son team. I didn’t have the pleasure of meeting him, so I’ll let Iron’s Heart’s web site describe him:
One of the most important characters in our operation is the old-man himself. His eternal optimism and compassion have been critical to a decades long project. His steadfast determination, rock solid advice, constant antics and larger than life persona keep things interesting on our family farm.
A typical stoic Appalachian man from the post great depression era, he has been coined #SALTYDAD. Lots of folks identify with him and surprisingly, we find folks enjoy carrying cardboard cutouts of him in his wacky attire to take photos with and share with us.
Salty Dad’s Not the Only Character
Can you spot Rosie, the world famous winery dog hovering around the tasting room?
Lilly, one of the cows who roams around the vineyard, will come when you call her name… or so they say on Facebook. I understand Lilly has strong opinions of Salty Dad…
Oh Yeah, They Have Wine Too!
Now to the wine… it is delicious! We chose to taste the sweet wines since that is our preference. They were all good although a little pricey.
The wine names (Moonlight Mechanic, Rattle Her Hocks, Cinder Snapper, Chasing the Red, Throw Away the Diamonds and Gandy Dancer, etc.) and the labels all pay homage to the train that once traveled through the farm.
The labels also honor Adam’s great grandmother, who raised 8 kids through very difficult circumstances. After losing her husband, her oldest son stole all the money from the family store’s cash drawer and ran away. The Rosie the Riveter theme on Iron Heart’s labels honors this tough and compassionate woman.
Location: 3742 Boone Furnace Rd, Hiwassee, VA 24347
Hours: Thu – Sat 12-5; Sun 1-5
Phone number: 540 320 0203
Grab some wine at Iron Heart or any of the great wineries within striking distance of Fancy Gap and book a stay at Pilot’s Perch Cabin to enjoy sunsets like this from one of the back decks: