Preston Williams Jr. doesn’t stop working his vineyard in North Carolina, even for an interview. “I’m going to multitask alongside you,” he says, continuing to tend to the farm and vineyard while he talks, his son Jamal by his side. After all, daylight hours are precious at Seven Springs Farm and Vineyard in Warren County, North Carolina—particularly during the cooler months, when it’s a race against the clock to wrap up the day before it gets dark.
Williams came into the industry from a varied background. He served in the military, which took him all over the East coast and to Raleigh, North Carolina, before he settled about ninety miles north in his native county. That was back in 1987, when he and his wife Clara purchased a 140-acre tract of land, complete with seven naturally occurring springs, to become the family homestead.
Drive along US Highway 158 through North Carolina’s Piedmont and you may miss Warren County if you blink. The unassuming region, home to around 20,000 people, borders the Virginia state line. The area thrives on agriculture, and Williams grew up on his family’s farm where he assisted with cotton, tobacco, corn, and cucumber production.
Returning to his home community with an entrepreneurial spirit, Williams used his property to raise feeder calves and also for forestry management. He cultivated the land with the help of his supportive family, including his wife, three sons, and, now, grandchildren. “We’ve enjoyed the land immensely,” Williams says. “It’s been a place of freedom, relaxation, enjoyment.”
That type of atmosphere caught Williams’ attention beyond his home—family outings to vineyards and wineries revealed places that channeled a similar ability to lull visitors into a sense of ease, and, for Williams, seeing the vines blowing in the breeze inspired a sense of freedom.
“We fell in love with the vines. With the experience of visiting a vineyard. With tasting and having a glass of wine. With having a relaxing conversation with someone you don’t even know,” he says.
The family knew they could open up their land to give others the same experience. They lived in a fertile area for growing muscadine grapes—a sweeter, larger variety than the grapes found at the grocery store. Vineyard visits soon became research as they developed their understanding for grape growing and the winemaking process.
The family planted their first muscadine, merlot, cabernet, and chardonnay vines in 2017—making them one of the first Black-owned wineries in the region—as well as the seeds for a five-year plan. “This is still a newborn baby,” Williams says of his vineyard. For perspective, grape vines typically reach their maturity anywhere between twelve and twenty-five years.
They spent the next two years honing their winemaking process. During this, they also built a tasting room and converted a multi-purpose building into an Airbnb that now hosts wine enthusiasts seeking getaways. Next came a pond and veranda, then a closed-in event center. Then, finally, the groundwork for a physical winery.
Within four years, Seven Springs has evolved into an idyllic retreat for weddings, reunions, gatherings, and special events, hosting private dinners to DJs.
“Any good business plan is multi-faceted,” Williams says. He wants to paint the full picture of the relaxation, social connections, and awe that occurs when sharing a bottle with friends against a backdrop of lush, open land.
Seven Springs completed the state and federal licensing processes that will allow them to commercially produce wine from their own grapes in late 2021. In the meantime, they partnered with nearby Rock of Ages Winery & Vineyards near Roxboro, North Carolina, to source the chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and muscadine they currently bottle. The wines pay homage to the Williams family and their home county: The Buck Springs blush wine, for example, commemorates Williams’ maternal grandfather, and the Fishin’ Creek Red (named after the township) is the family’s reminder to always remember where one comes from.
Operating as the only winery the county is far from what sets Seven Springs Farm and Vineyard apart. They are one of only twenty-eight Black-owned wineries in the country and one of two in North Carolina. Creating a space in a historically white-led industry makes Seven Springs a destination within their community and well beyond.
“We’ve had an excellent response,” Williams says since opening their doors in 2020. About 95 percent of their visitors travel in from surrounding areas, usually within a 120-mile radius; others fly in from across the country.
This year marks the culmination of the family’s five-year plan. When asked about what’s next, Williams mentions he’d like to see a recliner and mini fridge about every fifteen to twenty feet or so, offering a place to kick back during walks around the property. Jokes aside, he has no intention of easing up on the hands-on role he plays in the family business: “In order for what we desire to be successful, we have to work and see it through to the end,” he says.
We were featured in "The Local Palate" magazine! You can check the article by clicking below!
“I tell people this is Holy Land, and the definition of Holy Land is it’s designated for a purpose,” said co-owner of Seven Springs Farm & Vineyard, Preston Williams. “When people cross the ditch out front and enter the property they feel a sense of peace,” he said, “people tend to laugh when they come to Seven Springs, and that’s good for the soul.” In honor of National Red Wine Day, taking place on Aug. 28, I interviewed Preston, along with other members of our marketing staff, to get a behind the scenes look at his vineyard and all the hard work done by growers like him. Our interview was full of smiles and laughter as Preston’s admiration for family, the community, and “the Supreme Creator”, aka God, shined through his every word.
Seven Springs Farm & Vineyard in Norlina, North Carolina opened their doors in 2020 with clear vision of the future – navigating the coronavirus pandemic and all its related challenges. Preston says that COVID-19 surprisingly helped their business because visiting a winery was a creative outdoor activity people could enjoy. In fact, the Williams family even utilized the pond and dock on the property to offer a unique and romantic date night for couples. Today, guests can tour the grounds, enjoy the beautiful scenery and sip wine on the porches. The tasting room, however, is still limited to 10 guests at a time.
The vineyard was named after the seven natural springs located on the property. Everyone who had a chance to try water from these springs, said it was the best water ever! In the future, the family hopes to open up one of the natural springs to the public and allow people to take home some bottled natural spring water. Since the vineyard is home to the best water around, why not name the best wine after it? Buck Springs wine, one of the vineyards many varieties, was named after one of the springs located on Preston’s mother’s property growing up. Today, it continues to have a symbolic and sentimental meaning both to him and his family.
We asked Preston the backstory on the names of his other wines. My favorite response was the naming of the wine, Fishin’ Creek Red. “In case anyone in the family ever gets big headed about having a winery, I’ll tell them to have a glass of this and remember you’re from little Fishin’ Creek in Warren county,” he said. That quote sets the tone for Seven Springs Farm & Vineyard, a place where you can come and simply be at home.
Nothing says home like some downhome, Southern cooking! Seven Springs Farm & Vineyard has partnered with Divine Foods to offer a plethora of other products that individuals can enjoy with a glass of wine, including pickles, chowchow, apple butter and honey. They also have a variety of nonalcoholic ciders available for those looking for a lowkey drink to enjoy. All of these products can be found in their specialty foods tasting room at the vineyard.
In the future, Seven Springs Farm & Vineyard is working to expand the buildings on their site as well as incorporate an animal exhibit for children. In fact, they already have the donkeys on-site for this exhibit that were originally put in to keep away coyotes. “While the donkeys are amazing to have around, we all fully believe that they need some friends,” he said. The family is also currently working to build three cabins around the pond, in addition to their two existing Air B&B options, as well as a shelter near the main road.
So celebrate National Red Wine Day on Aug. 28 with a bottle of Fishin’ Creek Red wine and some specialty food items from their tasting room store! You can even create a charcuterie board that will pair well with any wine that you choose. Nothing about that seems big headed to me!
Our "Caretaker," Preston Williams Jr was interviewed by Spectrum. Check it out! (We know, we know...try to ignore the laptop view, and enjoy the MESSAGE!) Have fun and see you all soon!!!!
March 17, 2021 - Thank you Warren Record for coming out and supporting us on Saturday, March 13, 2021 with a great article about our cycling event!!! Visit the Warren Record to read more!
January 13, 2021 - Our owner Preston Williams, Jr. was featured in this week's periodical of the Warren Record for Seven Springs Farm and Vineyard reaching a pinnacle milestone! Visit the Warren Record to read more!