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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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Lillian Kroustalis, owner

Westbend Vineyards

Jack Kroustalis, who had a career in the food equipment business, and his wife, Lillian, became interested in growing grapes after traveling to other vineyards around the country and the world. In 1972 they acquired some land near the west bend of the Yadkin River and planted a handful of European varietals: Chardonnay, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon. The Kroustalises were the first to plant vinifera grapes in the Yadkin Valley. While they were confident in their new venture, others were not. Jack’s persistence paid off, and in 1976 they harvested seventy tons of grapes.

Initially, they sold their fruit; in 1988 they opened as a bonded winery. Today, Westbend Vineyards is part of the Yadkin Valley appellation, North Carolina’s first American Viticultural Area (AVA), which is now home to more than twenty wineries. And as the industry grew, so did the vineyard. Westbend currently grows a dozen different varietals and produces twenty distinctive wines. One of those wines is a commemorative port, Jack’s Legacy, named in honor of the vineyard’s founder, who passed away in 2006. Lillian remains at the helm of Westbend Vineyards, overseeing the business she and her husband started together.

Date of interview:

Amy C. Evans

Amy C. Evans

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The Southern Foodways Alliance drives a more progressive future by leading conversations that challenge existing constructs, shape perspectives, and foster meaningful discussions. We reconsider the past with research, scrutiny, and documentation.


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