S.C. Women Making Mark In Wine Industry
When Vicki Weigle set out to develop a vineyard and winery on the grounds of a former tobacco farm in Horry County nearly 30 years ago, many local farmers thought she was making a big mistake.
Recently, one of those nay-sayers stopped by her thriving business, La Belle Amie Winery at 1120 St. Joseph Road in Little River, and admitted he was wrong.
“This man told me not too long ago that he used to tell everybody ‘That woman is out of her mind,’ and now he realizes how wrong he was,” Weigle said. “He said he just wanted me to know that he admires what I’ve done.”
What Weigle did was to convert fields on the tobacco farm that was her mother’s birthplace into vineyards of muscadine grapes that have now become a wide variety of wines she sells under the Twisted Sisters label. Each year La Belle Amie produces about 5,000 cases of wine. It also plays host to thousands of visitors who come to wine tastings, shop in the gift shop and enjoy live music twice a week.
With her success at La Belle Amie, Weigle is part of a small but growing number of women finding success in the wine industry nationwide and in the Southeast. In South Carolina, a diverse group of women are getting involved in the industry at all levels, from winemaking to distribution.