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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. If you would like to contribute to SFA’s oral history collections, please send your ideas for oral history along with your CV or Resume and a portfolio of prior oral history work to annemarie@southernfoodways.org.

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ORAL HISTORY

Willard Hinnant and Bob Hinnant, owners


Hinnant Family Vineyards

Willard Hinnant, a dentist by trade, grew up on a farm in Pine Level, North Carolina. When he inherited the family land, the price for tobacco was low, and he needed another way for the farm to maintain an income. Willard remembered one of his history professors at the University of North Carolina mentioning that he couldn’t understand why the state didn’t have a wine industry, so in 1970 Willard decided to grow muscadine grapes. Unfortunately, the price for grapes wasn’t good when they made their first harvest. So instead of selling to other wineries, they simply maintained their small vineyard, selling fresh muscadines to produce markets, for the next twenty years.

In 1990 things changed. The price for grapes and the growing interest in wine inspired Willard to start making wine of his own. Hinnant Family Vineyards opened as a bonded winery in 2002, with Willard’s son, Bob, part of the new venture. Together, they maintain the largest Muscadine vineyard in the state.

Date of interview:
2008-08-15

Interviewer:
Amy C. Evans

Photographer:
Amy C. Evans

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