Muscadine Festival pic

File Photo by Michaele Duke

The Williams Muscadine Vineyard and Farm at 21 Gabriel Place in Nesmith has a rich history. Besides growing luscious muscadine grapes the family educates visitors about early African-American farm life in the rural South.

The highlight of the year is the annual Muscadine Festival that is held on the weekend of Labor Day. Visitors from all over come to celebrate the sweet fruit in a variety of ways and to re-live if only in spirit day-to-day life on the farm.  

The festival offers attendees the chance to get a feel for rigid farm life at the turn of the 20th century through the sifting of flour, churning of butter, and washing clothes with lye soap. And that’s only the beginning: the farm offers tours and demonstrations and story reading (for the little ones). Of course the vineyard’s mainstay is the overflowing of all-you-can-eat grapes.

Muscadines are used in jams, jellies and juices as well as a dessert wine. Muscadines are considered more nutritious than table grapes. They are also considered to have many health benefits. Because of their healthy attributes, University of Florida researchers have described muscadines as the next potential “super fruit.”

The late Rev. Gabriel Williams founded the farm in 1924, where he lived with his wife Mary and 20 kids in one crowded farmhouse as the first generation out of slavery. The home, which was formerly the home of sharecroppers from the previous decade, still stands as a gentle reminder of those hard days on the farm.

For their preservation efforts the South Carolina African American Commission honored the Williams in 2009 with the Preserving Our Place in History Award. After Gabriel’s passing, son the late David Williams converted the farm from tobacco, cotton, and corn production to muscadine. For more information about the vineyard and a list of events call (803) 397-1859.