ROSE HILL, N.C. (WNCT) – “We’re the number one muscadine winery in the world,” said Sharon Sprouse, a wine tasting leader for Duplin Winery.
“Believe it or not, we make 42 different types,” added Dave Fussell, Jr., president of Duplin Winery.
All of them cool, sweet, and easy.
“See you’ve got all kinds of fancy wine names don’t we,” said Fussell. “The folks who drink the wine with their pinky out, go buy a bottle of chardonnay.”
“They tend to be quite sweet,” said Niki Hildebrand, who was visiting the winery for the first time from Wrightsville Beach.
In the month of September, it’s all about the grape harvest.
Wine making is aged in tradition. One of those age old traditions is grape stomping with your feet. It still happens this way but there are more elaborate ways to get the juice out of the grapes.
“The most we can press usually during the day is about 400 tons,” explained Fussell. “We sell over 500,000 cases of wine.”
But the road to get here wasn’t always easy.
“It started back in 1972 by two brothers, David Fussel and Dan Fussel,” said Sprouse.
“There was a big winery called Canandaigua Wine Company. They came down into eastern North Carolina and said hey we need some sweet muscadine grapes and if you’ll grow them, we’ll pay you $350 per ton,” explained Fussell.
“Well it takes 3 years for a grape vine to grow,” continued Sprouse. “So in ’75 when it was time to harvest the grapes, that’s when the recession hit.”
“They dropped the price to $125 a ton. You couldn’t even pick the grapes for $125 a ton so my granddad said hey, let’s clear out the back end of my store and we’ll start making wines,” said Fussell. “Of course that didn’t sit very well with my grandmother. She came home from Sunday school one day crying and said the girls at Sunday school are saying we’ve opened up a factory of liquid sin.”
“She said well they don’t do it on Sunday so that’s why we’re never open on Sunday,” said Sprouse.
“We really just continued struggling up until 1995 when 60 minutes aired a segment saying drink a glass of red wine, it’s good for you,” said Fussell.
“A muscadine grape has the highest antitoxins and resveratrol of any other product which helps lower your cholesterol, rebuilds cancer fighting cells, and it was good to drink,” explained Sprouse.
“There was one called Naughty & Nice and I really liked it,” said Hildebrand. “It’s a really fun experience just coming for a wine tasting. I’m going to come back with friends and do it again.”
Duplin Winery is calling. Just don’t forget to keep your pinkies in while you sip and savor.