When my uncle Jimmy decided to develop a winery, he started reading and learning all he could about the wine business. He became friends with people in the area who had vineyards, he attended regional seminars, and met with representatives from the North Carolina Department of Agriculture.
He put in a lot of time learning about growing grapes and making wine before he could get to the point of making wine.
He even installed an irrigation system, digging much of it by hand and sometimes using his tractor.
Jimmy achieved what he set out to do, which was to make a prize-winning Muscadine wine.
He won blue ribbons and other awards with his wine.
Then just after I posted the Best Retirement Story about my aunt and uncle, my uncle Jimmy was diagnosed with lung cancer.
All of his plans to take his winery to the next step came to a halt after he was diagnosed with lung cancer in June 2011. At the beginning, he fought it but eventually he knew he wasn't going to beat the disease so he stopped all treatments. He passed awayat home on Nov.21st 2011, just before Thanksgiving.
The family had his funeral at the church he loved so much, where had been very active helping wherever he was needed.
Jimmy had provided well for his family. He made sure his wife's standard of living would not change were he to pass away first by opting for the maximum survivor benefit on his pension in exchange for a reduced benefit amount.
His approach to life was a shining example of how to achieve happiness and success, for his children and anyone else who knew him.
During his last weeks and days all three of his children were with him every day and one son moved in temporarily to help with his care.
While he was able Jimmy taught the family as much as he could about wine making and now the family still makes wine the way he taught them to. For now, they continue to give it away to family and friends. They provided the wine for his granddaughter's wedding in 2012, and they plan to do it again for another granddaughter's wedding in May 2013.
In 2012, son Joel won a 3rd place ribbon - not quite as good as his dad but maybe this year it will be first place again.
Joann and Jimmy's children are proud to carry out this new family tradition of making wine in his honor.