The soil and grapevines at Seven Springs Farms & Vineyard near Ridgeway may be dormant for the winter season, but the local vineyard recently celebrated a milestone with the introduction of several new wines, including three produced from grapes grown on its gently rolling hills.
Seven Springs, operated by Preston Williams, Jr., his wife, Clara, and their three sons, Preston Williams III, Cornelius Aaron Williams and Jamal Donnel Williams, was established in 2017 on property that Preston Jr. and Clara purchased in 1987. The vineyard opened to the public in June 2020.
The Williams’ land, located on Axtell Ridgeway Road, is graced by seven natural springs that, along with the couple’s strong faith, inspired the name Seven Springs Farms & Vineyard.
With the vineyard’s opening, the family announced plans to offer wine, jellies, jams, ciders and BBQ sauce, among other products, and to also develop the property as a venue for special events. Seven Springs partners with local vendors in the manufacturing of its products.
The vineyard continues to move toward developing a winery so that it can process its grapes on site. Seven Springs currently is in the application process at the state and federal levels for wine production.
The vineyard’s new wines may not have been produced on site, but the Williams family is excited to introduce its new wines, especially those that represent the bounty of its September 2020 harvest.
The family raises eight varieties of muscadine grapes which produce fruit in a range of colors: black, purple, bronze, red and white. The resulting wines include red, white and blush.
The three new wines produced from Seven Springs grapes offer something for all tastes:
• Ridgeway Passion, a sweet white wine produced from the Carlos grape. Preston said that the name is inspired by the naturally sweet cantaloupes that have grown so well in the Ridgeway soil. He wanted to reflect that sweetness and flavor in the Ridgeway Passion wine.
• Fishin’ Creek Red, produced from the Noble grape, a sweet purple grape. Preston said that the name of Fishing Creek Township, where the Williams family grew up in the Grove Hill area, inspired its namesake wine. He noted that the name also reflects the idea of remembering where one comes from.
• Buck Springs, a blush wine resulting from a blend of Carlos and Noble grapes. Preston said that the win is named in honor of Jesse “Buck” Powell, his grandfather on his mother’s side of the family. Powell had to go to a spring on his farm to obtain water and was known for saying that water from the spring was the best he ever tasted. In like fashion, Preston said he believes that the Buck Springs wine is the best he ever tasted.
The Williams family holds even higher hopes for the September 2021 harvest, when the grapevines on the Seven Springs property will be more mature.
“The more mature the vines, the better quality grape juice they produce,” Preston said. “They have deeper roots and are able to pull more nutrients from the ground.”
A growing event venue
The Williams family is also excited about Seven Springs’ development as an event venue.
In 2020, the vineyard was the site of several weddings, afternoons of music with rhythm and blues or jazz bands, or disc jockeys, and a cancer awareness event. In addition, several families have chosen Seven Springs as the site for family photographs.
The site opened with a wine tasting room and adjoining outdoor spaces for special events or simply relaxing.
The site now includes additional buildings. A multipurpose building, “Hobbie’s Cabin,” is named for Preston’s father, Preston “Hobbie” Williams, Sr.
The “Benjamin Epps House,” named for the two grandfathers of Preston’s most, Rebecca Powell Williams. The three-bedroom, two bathroom house provides space for guests to stay overnight during events or for a getaway.
Work continues on a storage building, a pavilion for concerts, a wedding venue by a large pond and additional restroom facilities.
“We can’t wait for spring to come to start scheduling events again,” Preston said.
The vineyard can be utilized for events such as weddings, birthday celebrations, family reunions, concerts, dinners, sip-and-paint event, sip-and-puffs (with cigars) and other occasions.
In the spring, the Williams family hopes to partner with a Durham orchard to offer a fruit and vegetable stand. By late fall, they would like to begin construction of an event center.
However, the main goal for 2021 is to be able to operate an on-site winery by the fall.
“When harvest comes this year, we would like to process our own wine,” Preston said.
Seven Springs Farms & Vineyards is at 332 Axtell Ridgeway Rd., Norlina. The vineyard is open in the winter from 1-5 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 1-6 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and 2-6 p.m. on Sundays. No appointment is necessary. For more information, visit sevenspringsvineyards.com or call 252-432-0379.