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Oral Histories

The SFA oral history program documents life stories from the American South. Collecting these stories, we honor the people whose labor defines the region.

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ORAL HISTORY

Dave Fussell, Jr., President


Duplin Winery

David Fussell Sr., a school principal, was looking for a way to supplement his income when he heard about the price that muscadine grapes were fetching in New York. He planted his first muscadine vines in 1968, but in the 1970s, the price for grapes fell. Needing an outlet for his fruit, David decided to make wine. But again, his luck would turn.

In the 1980s Duplin Winery faced new tax laws and regulations, causing the winery to face difficult times. The bank took David’s house but left him with a fledgling winery. He did his best to keep the place going. David even helped out other growers by taking their fruit, giving them stock in Duplin instead of cash. Duplin Winery maintains relationships with some of those growers to this day, helping Duplin Winery become the largest bottler of muscadine in North Carolina. Today, David’s son, David Fussell Jr., continues the family tradition as president of Duplin Winery, where he’s committed to “making the best sweet wine in the world.”

Date of interview:
2008-08-11

Interviewer:
Amy C. Evans

Photographer:
Amy C. Evans

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