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The Time That I Got Fired

JF_FiredThe Time I Got Fired

It was Mother’s Day weekend in 1999 and Leah was graduating from Campbell University.
We had been dating for over a year.

Leah told me that she was not going to move to Rose Hill, NC without a reason. I knew just what she meant, so I asked her to marry me. Over the years, I gave Leah many reasons to wish she had made a different decision. Our first Christmas together as a couple one of those occasions.

Christmas Eve was a special time for our family. It was the one-day during the year that we knew we would all be together. We would have Christmas Eve dinner at my Aunt Jo’s house and then go to my parents to get our presents from Santa Claus. In the mid-90s our “Santa” presents changed to family gifts that my parents wanted to pass along. My father would always give us a note that he had written detailing his love and pride in us. My letter this year was different. It was written on a small sheet of paper with only three words. The winery was a lot smaller in 1999. We had six employees counting my brother and me. I was training to be the retail manager and planning to take over my parents’ responsibilities. In December, my mother and father decided to see what I was made of.

I had worked in the winery my whole life. I knew that our business picked up over the Easter holiday when the tourists are starting to travel. We would be very busy during the summer with people visiting our NC beaches and our fall was always crazy with grape season. We would transition to the Christmas season, where we worked six or seven days a week.

This Christmas season, my parents decided to leave for a long and very well deserved vacation. My father wanted to visit some distributors and take my mother to see a Christmas show in Nashville, TN. They would return on Christmas Eve, and I was to manage the retail and shipping department in their absence. My father wanted to see if I was prepared to take over and how I would operate without him. I knew I was being tested, and I worked hard to make sure every customer was satisfied. We had the best Christmas season ever at the winery, and I could not wait to see my father on Christmas Eve to brag about our accomplishments.

On December 16th, traffic at the winery was slow, and I decided I deserved a vacation too. Leah was leaving town to go work in Atlantic Beach, NC and I was going to be home alone. A coworker, Jonathan Murphy, invited me on a trip to Atlantic City. I told Leah that I wanted to go as I had never been to Atlantic City and wanted to see what a casino looked like. Leah begged me to stay home. She told me that my father was testing me and that there was plenty of time after Christmas to take a vacation. I wish I would have listened to her, but I didn’t.

On Christmas Eve, my father called me to ask if I would come over to the house a little early. He wanted to discuss work before dinner with our family. I couldn’t wait to see him. I wanted to tell him all the things we had accomplished while they were gone. As soon as I walked in the door, I started telling my parents everything. I discussed the challenges that we faced and how our team succeeded. I was very proud, and I wanted to make them proud, as well. My father asked Leah and me to sit on the couch. He wanted to give us a present before my brothers and sisters -in-law arrived. Dad gave me the note. I opened it up, and it was a small sheet of paper that read, “YOU ARE FIRED.” At first, I thought it was a joke. After all, I had just told him everything we had accomplished. Leah looked at me and asked me what the note said. I looked at my father in disbelief. My father then told me how disappointed he was in me. I will not go into all of the details, but it was not the Christmas gift I would have imagined that year. I stayed fired for a really long time. I really thought Leah was going to leave me as she was disappointed, too. My mother finally came to the rescue about four months later. I do not know what she said to my father, but it worked!

-Jonathan Fussell

Dave Gets Fired, Again

Dave Gets Fired, Again

Listen as Jonathan tells the story of Dave blowing up the wine tank, part one.

Stay tuned for more Fussell Stories where you’ll learn the good, bad and ugly of Duplin Winery!

Duplin’s Guide to a Summer Cookout

DuplinWineryCookoutDuplin’s Guide to a Summer Cookout

The sweet summertime has arrived, and that calls for a summer cookout!

Duplin is here to help you celebrate the season with delicious Muscadine wine, tasty recipes, easy decorations and party ideas.

Here is Duplin’s guide to a summer cookout:

Style it up

It’s time to get into the summer spirit with fun glassware that your guests will love. At Duplin, we have everything from wine glasses to koozie cups and even a redneck wine glass. Deck out the glass by adding straws that have vibrant hues, polka dots, and even pretty ribbon.

Sip Sweet

Duplin Winery has plenty of delicious Muscadine wines to keep you and your guests satisfied. Our Sweetzers were made for summertime cookouts. There isn’t anything more refreshing than an iced cold wine slushie. Try out one of our ten flavors including Peach Bellini, Margarita, Pina Colada and Berry Bliss.

Tasty Treats

Duplin Gourmet offers barbecue sauces, dressings, jams and more. Each item makes a yummy treat that you will certainly love. We recommend our Muscadine Pineapple & Habanero Dip that can be served with your favorite crackers. Plus, we have plenty of recipes to browse through on our website from appetizers, desserts, entrees and more.

Set the mood

Create an outdoor lounge that helps your guests kick back and relax. Most importantly, don’t forget the music! A day or two before your summer cookout create a playlist that has something everyone will love.

Whether you are planning a summer cookout or having some fun in the sun, Duplin has you covered. From wine cocktails to delicious treats, there is something for everyone.

Never Tell a Man’s Age

Never Tell a Man’s Age

Jonathan & Dave Fussell reminisce about their favorite family memories.

Stay tuned for more Fussell Stories where you’ll learn the good, bad and ugly of Duplin Winery!

All About Muscadine Wine

All About Muscadine Wine

Listen as Jonathan and Dave Fussell tell us all about Muscadine wine.

Thank you to Beach TV for coming out to interview us!

Plan your Dream Wedding with Duplin Winery

WeddingsDuplinWineryPlan Your Dream Wedding With Duplin Winery

Plan your big day at Duplin Winery!

Celebrate true love with family and friends at Duplin Winery in Rose Hill, North Carolina.

We offer wedding planning and all-inclusive wedding packages to make your big day a dream come true.

Imagine sharing your special day in the beautiful Duplin Winery vineyards, or in our stunning wedding chapel.

The Chapel in Duplin’s Vineyard is a hidden gem that opened in spring of 2015. It provides rustic charm, romance, and enchantment. Prepare to be completely captivated by the relaxed atmosphere and natural décor inside the chapel. The country style chapel allows for accommodations for up to 300 guests. Brides will feel right at home with a lovely bridal suite to prepare for the big day.

Have you always dreamed of having your ceremony in a vineyard? During the season, you can choose a beautiful spot in our Duplin Winery vineyard near a pond, or in our gardens. It doesn’t get much more magical than that.

There are multiple places around Duplin Winery where the reception can be held including outside, in the wedding chapel or at The Bistro Restaurant. Brides can customize their own receptions and find the perfect décor from table runners, chair covers and napkins. Our dinner packages are sure to impress all of your guests with a variety of delicious menu items.

The staff at Duplin Winery is ready to help you plan your big day and make it something you’ll always remember. We’re here to simply your life and customize your special day to fit all of your personal preferences. After all, your special day should be filled with joy, romance, and peace.

Ready to start planning your wedding? Call us today at 1-800-774-9634, or email events@duplinwinery.com to get started.

Firing Number Five

Dave_FiredFiring Number Five

Rumor has it that there were several more.

But to the best of my memory, my mom only hired me eight times. And just in case you’re one that has heard we Southerners are prone to exaggeration, this means my dad and/or my granddad has literally fired me SEVEN times! But, number FIVE, now that was an epic ‘Uh-Oh’! I can still hear his words today as he walked through the winery, “Boys, do not forget to vent the tanks. Remember, we have to vent the tanks before pumping.” And again he emphasized, “Vent, Vent, Vent!” Dad never shied away from persistently and doggedly reminding us to, “Vent!”

Well on this spring morning, I forgot. After hooking the wine pump up to one of the two best wine tanks my dad had ever purchased, I hit the pump’s start button and walked away. About 20 or so steps later, it hit me, “Oh no, I forgot to VENT!” As fast as I could run, I made my way around the corner to meet the sounds of a $43,000.00 beautiful stainless steel, double-walled, 3,786-gallon tank crumbling! And the sight of this beautiful, expensive, and half way collapsed tank made me hit my knees and instantly pray, “Oh God, please help me. He’s going to kill me!”

Oh Lord what am I going to do when he gets back from Raleigh? Maybe I should leave town, but there’s no way Angie is going to run with me. I had to figure out some way of fixing this, and fixing this quickly because he’s due back tomorrow. Now I went to East Carolina University for five years for a four-year degree. But somehow in school, I learned that there is 14lbs per square inch keeping us on earth, its gravity. I figured that if I could just fill this 3,786-gallon tank up with air to 15lbs per square inch, it just might pop out and be as good as new, or at least close enough that he’d never know. Sharing my plans with the other boys in the plant produced a lot of blank faces. But they couldn’t come up with any better solutions, so I went out and rented a huge industrial air compressor, capable of making a lot of air. Plus I removed the air gauge off the winery’s small air compressor and managed to secure it to the middle valve of the collapsed tank.

Now here we were with seven walkie-talkies, a large industrial air compressor trailered outside the winery with a long hose running inside, attached to the bottom tank valve of this collapsed wine tank. Somebody’s got to man the air compressor outside, and somebody’s got to watch the air gauge inside. And out of the seven of us, six agreed that they should man the air compressor and I should watch the air gauge. Luckily or unluckily, Felipe decided he’d stay with me as the other five walked outside the back of the winery, towards the air compressor. With the stage set, all the walkie-talkies sounded off ready to roll, and I gave the OK to start sending me air. It takes a while to produce 3,786 gallons of air and while waiting, Felipe and I agreed that the other five were just too plain chicken to be in here with us. Slowly, the air gauge needle began to rise. At about 11lbs per sq.in, I heard a little rumble and quickly alerted Rob to stop the air flow. Minutes passed with nothing, nothing at all happening, so I got back on my radio and asked Rob to very carefully and slowly begin air flow again. Felipe and I sat watching and listening as the gauge reached a touch above 14lbs. Per SQ. in., our preplanned stopping point. On my radio, I ordered the stoppage of air flow, and we sat and waited for minutes. Nothing for a while, but then, from the inside of the double wall tank we heard rumbling, then clicking, and some cracking as this favorite tank of my dad started rising and expanding. It was a beautiful site, and I jumped back on the radio, excitedly shouting, “It is working!”

If I could go back in time for a moment, I promise it would not be the moment after I excitedly shouted into my walkie-talkie, “It is working!” Have you ever let the air out of a balloon while pulling the end tight? You know, it squeals. Well, the rumbling and clicking were replaced with that, a slight squeal. I quickly checked by radio that the air flow was stopped and as those chickens outside responded yes, the squeal grew. Multiple that balloon squeal a million times, and that’s what Felipe and I heard as we began running behind and beneath the nearby tank! KABOOMMMMM!!!!!!! The ground shook and the air filled with dust as Felipe pulled me on top of him behind and under this neighboring tank. Dazed, we slowly watched the dust begin to settle. I remember thinking, man its dark in here. With the ringing in my ears, I couldn’t make out the words coming from my radio as we emerged from behind the tank that saved us. As the dust continued slowly settling, it got brighter and brighter. Oh no, I could see and feel the sun from inside the winery! I had not only blown up the $43,000.00 tank, but I had also blown out the back end of the building and part of the roof! As I looked at the five guys standing by the air compressor, with only the winery’s wall lying in the grass between us, they stood immobile, yet slightly shaken. I asked if they were alright and they each slowly nodded yes. We all stood silent for a moment before I whispered, “Dad’s really going to kill me now.”

Mom got Dad to agree to hire me back after a few weeks but at half the pay. He calculated that I cost the winery $86,000.00, and it took me about 5 or 6 years to pay him back. Today, there are still faded foot prints on the concrete where that tank once stood. I used to wish they would fade away, but not so much anymore. They’re part of our story.

-Dave Fussell

Life Is Sweeter With Duplin