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beginning of the adventure that would bring us to settle next to Jamestown Island, some 376 years after the first British settlement in the New World.” The pair had scoured the Virginia countryside by the time


they finally decided on the Wessex Hundred property in 1983. Their other choice locations, Argentina and New Zealand, were ultimately deemed “too distant.” Before they closed the deal on the purchase, they had agreed on starting a genuine agricultural business — a winery. Duffeler said that the agent looked at them skeptically “as if we had just come down from the moon or anywhere else in outer space. ‘A winery? A place where you make wine by stomping on grapes and sell it?’” Exactly.


From Infancy to Adulthood


After they enthusiastically jumped in to their new endeavor, the Duffelers found themselves dealing with the twin challenges of making the property habitable for their family and establishing their brand new vineyard. “History tells us that the early settlers experienced some difficulties, particularly in winter. Well, they were not the only ones,” Duffeler said. What followed were years of labor-intensive clean-up, renovations, construction, project development, frustrations, planting, growing, harvesting and producing. Success was hard won. They planted their first vines in 1985. By early 1987,


Duffeler had left his corporate career and was able to devote all his time and energy to the winery. From the first planting of three acres and the first harvest in ’87, the vineyards have


grown steadily to more than 40 acres of eight grape varietals. From the first intense renovation of the main residence, construction proceeded to include the viticulture house, the winery and cellars, event space, barns, sheds, a guest house and a greenhouse. Following the initial triumph of the 1988 Governor’s White, the Williamsburg Winery soon reached the profitable threshold of 25,000 cases. Early on, the little winery had made a name for itself by becoming popular enough to begin running out of inventory. In the meantime, while working their 300-acre property, the Duffelers had seen the unearthing of early American artifacts, salvaged seven wrecked cars and numerous old appliances from a ravine on the property, demolished the remains of three unstable silos by shooting them down with an abundance of personal firearms and the help of friends and neighbors, planted 50,000 trees, and overseen the protection of a cypress bog. In 2004, Peggy Duffeler, always a driving force in the winery’s


journey, passed away before seeing the full measure of her efforts on behalf of her family and the farm. Nevertheless, her spirit lives on throughout Wessex Hundred. “She has been the spiritual mother of the entire winery project,” Duffeler said. In 2007 Duffeler opened a boutique, European-style country


hotel within walking distance of the winery. Wedmore Place is the result of 10 years of planning and three years of construction. The design is based on ideas picked up on Duffeler’s travels. Also that year, he married Francoise, a native of France. She was an inspiration for the hotel’s decor. Each of the hotel’s 28 rooms is named after a province in Europe and is decorated to reflect the region. “We wanted to convey the


The House & Home Magazine


73


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