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Fussell Stories

Carolina Red Goes Topless

Jonathan and Dave Fussell reminisce on their favorite family memories at Duplin Winery. Listen as Dave tells Jonathan about the man who called the winery after discovering he had no corks in his Carolina Red! Stay tuned to our website as Jonathan and Dave tell you the good, the bad and the ugly of Duplin Winery in our video series.

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The Start of Dinner Theatre Shows

Jonathan and Dave reminisce on their favorite family memories at Duplin Winery. Watch this video as they talk about how the dinner theatre shows first began at Duplin Winery. At first it didn’t seem like the best idea!
Stay tuned to our website as Jonathan and Dave tell you the good, the bad and the ugly of Duplin Winery in our video series.

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The First Ever Grape Stomp

Jonathan and Dave reminisce on their favorite family memories at Duplin Winery. Watch this video as they talk about the first ever Grape Stomp at Duplin Winery.

Stay tuned to our website as Jonathan and Dave tell you the good, the bad and the ugly of Duplin Winery in our video series.

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Employee Goes to Atlantic City

Jonathan and Dave reminisce on their favorite family memories at Duplin Winery. Watch this video as they talk about starting The Bistro Restaurant and the employee who went to Atlantic City.

Stay tuned to our website as Jonathan and Dave tell you the good, the bad and the ugly of Duplin Winery in our video series.

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Learn From My Mistake

“Talk, talk, talk, that’s all he does!” – My wife Angie explaining to others what I actually do at Duplin Winery.

In our North Myrtle Beach Winery, just above our cash registers where many excellent people work, including Angie, there’s a big-screen TV. This TV plays repeats of our “Duplin Winery Story” narrated by Jonathan and me. I guess someone had enough of my talk and turned off the volume. Now someone has got to read my lips to enjoy. Who in the world would have done that?!

I’ve got to admit; I do a lot of talking. If I’m around when someone walks into our winery, I’m going to greet them and shake their hand. I know all our visitors had a choice between visiting Duplin or being somewhere else, and it’s important to me to let them know just how much we appreciate them choosing us. That’s the way it has been for three generations. I think my granddad invented the greeter position before Sam Walton ever thought of having a greeter at Walmart. Big D would sit in his rocking chair at our front door, rocking and waiting for someone to walk thru the winery’s door. If a man walked in the door he’d rock forward and exclaim, “Welcome to the winery!” and maybe ask, “Where are you from?” before “Thanks for visiting!” And when a lady walked in, he’d start grinning and jump right out of that chair. It was incredible seeing how fast that old man could stand up for a pretty lady. As his 90 plus year old bones straighten, you would have thought he believed he was George Cooney. Every woman that walked thru our door got a hug from him – Usually too tight and with one hand too low! And if a group of ‘Red Hats’ walked in, he was in heaven because some of those gals would not let go!

Big D not only enjoyed being the Duplin Winery greeter and sharing our wines, he also took pride in the opportunities he helped create for his family, our associates, and his community. When my father and uncle first decided to buy a farm in the early 70’s, Big D helped them find the financing. And in 1974, when the large winery who talked my father and uncle into growing grapes on that farm, failed to pay the $350.00 per ton that was promised, he stepped up again, creating an opportunity by loaning them about $75,000.00 to start and open Duplin Winery.

Many of our wonderful supporters and folks within the NC wine industry consider Big D, the founding father of Duplin Winery. One day in the early 80’s, Big D and dad were invited as special guest to the grand opening of a new winery in western North Carolina. This new winery’s focus was growing and producing dry Vitis Vinifera wines like Chardonnay and Merlot, very different from the sweet Muscadine wines we grow and produce. After touring the new winery, the winemaker gave them and the other special guest a personal tasting of each new wine. After each sip of each wine, Big D would exclaim, “Delicious!” or “Never tasted anything better!” and “Don’t change a thing!” Dad said could believe his ears. On the ride home when asked about his remarks, Big D explained, “Those wines were good, but I wanted him to think they were great because I don’t want them to start making Muscadine wines!”

One day in 2008, Big D walked into to my office and handed me a folded piece of paper. Unfolding it, I noticed the letterhead instantly, Ross Powell, our accountant, and below were numbers added together, totaling a little over 1.2 Million Dollars. I asked, “What’s this?” And Big D replied, “In 1974, I loaned your daddy and uncle $75,000.00, and they haven’t made one payment yet. With interest, that’s what Ross says you now owe me!” and “I want my money now!” I didn’t know what to say so I told him he’d needed to see dad because we don’t have that kind of money. He quickly replied, “I already did, and he sent me to see you!” For the next few days I was on the look-out, if I heard Big D coming up the stairs to my office, I quickly hide in the bathroom. Soon he found my hiding spot and grabbed my arm saying, “Listen here! You don’t have to pay me if you promise me you’ll learn from my mistake, ‘Never, Ever Loan Your Family Any Money If You Expect to Be Paid Back!’”

Thanks to all who choose to walk thru our door. You’re the reason we’re still in business and building memories. We sincerely appreciate your support!

May God bless you and your family,

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The Time That 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

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