“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,