Today as I write this column in the safety and comfort of my office, our country and the world are focused on the situation in Syria. Without a doubt, the Assad regime is known by their fruit, which has not been good. And, the world is watching America and the American President to see what fruit they will produce as they make crucial decisions.
This well known Biblical Parable was seen clearly during our recent coastal wine tour. Leaving the Lu Mil Winery Bunny and I traveled the pig paths in rural North Carolina and along the way we observed a variety of agriculture including the largest tobacco field ever. The field was huge and we could only imagine how many acres were occupied. However, the most abundant crops growing were blueberries and grapes. There were many large blueberry farms and the Vineyards were under the name of Dublin Vineyards. The Dublin family’s winery has been in business since the 1970’s and is the world’s largest Muscadine winery and the largest winery in the south. The winery is in the middle of the town of Rose Hill and has a state of the art production facility with a tank capacity of over 1,500,000 gallons. Arriving at the Duplin Winery, we immediately determined that Duplin is the Wal-Mart of wineries. Usually there are only a few adults at any winery but at Duplin, people had to sign in just to get a place at the tasting bar or to tour the facility. The day we visited, it was wall to wall people with most visitors buying wine by the boxes. In fact, we just sat back and watched employees refill wine racks that customers were constantly depleting. We also wondered if the folks buying all the wines were with the church bus in the parking lot… One of the most interesting observations was the excitement the Dublin employees expressed and their vast knowledge of the Duplin grapes and products. During our visit, Bunny and I met one of the owners who appeared to be humbled by the success of their business and gave credit for their achievements to family, faith, and hard work. In addition to the winery, visitors can have lunch at the Bistro Restaurant and enjoy Dinner Theater productions throughout the year. Duplin Winery produces good fruit.
However, my favorite winery along the coast of North Carolina was one of the smallest and the most down-to-earth. Monday Morning we traveled through rural areas that had miles and miles of nothing. Finally we saw hints of civilization as we arrived in the Burgaw Community and carefully followed directions to the Bannerman Vineyard and Winery. As we continued traveling along country roads, we decided that we could just have easily been in Williamsburg County as the land was flat, and had much of the same vegetation found at home. After several miles we spotted an old tobacco barn and a rustic sign advertising Bannerman Vineyards. Since there were no cars in the parking lot, and it looked somewhat deserted, I questioned if they were open, or even in business any longer. After debating whether or not to stop Bunny noticed a welcome sign in the window and we went in to check Bannerman off our winery list. Inside, we were met by the surprised owners who were not expecting or prepared for Monday morning visitors. Nevertheless, Mr. Bannerman invited us in and began talking about his vineyard. He described their beginnings around 1973, explained that the vineyard is completely family owned and operated, and is one of the oldest vineyards in North Carolina. He also explained that his vineyard is special because all the grapes are hand picked and only the highest quality grapes are used. As Bannerman began talking about his wines, he remarked that his wife was the wine maker and was very creative. For instance one of their most popular wines has a hint of ginger that is usually not found in local sweet wines. Bannerman also explained that because his wife does such a good job they had sold all their best wines. Preparing for the tasting, Mr. Bannerman withdrew several bottles from the cooler with no labels. We found it interesting that all he had do was look at the product, taste it, and automatically knew the wine. When asked about knowing the wines purely by taste he looked at us with disbelief and revealed that a good wine maker always knows his fruit and his wine. No doubt, Bannerman Winery produces good fruit, and they are known by the good fruit they produce.
Now back to Syria. Perhaps by the time you read this column, we will know what the United States will do with Syria and Assad. Most people and even many on Capitol Hill believe there is just no good answer. In the words of Matthew, we know that a good tree can not bear bad fruit, or a bad tree will not produce good fruit. Trees that do not produce good fruit are cut down. So you will know them by their fruit. The problem is there is so much bad fruit it’s difficult to know which fruit to cut.