Stories from My Winery Visit

Photo: Kiepersol

My husband and I recently visited Kiepersol Winery and Bed and Breakfast in Tyler. Our room at the Bed and Breakfast was in the building with the restaurant. Not only were the surroundings quiet, calm, and serene, the wine was wonderful, our room beautiful, and the restaurant defied description. They feature great steaks and seafood, with incredible sides. My favorites were the sauteed mushrooms and garlic potatoes. And the desserts…I had cherries jubilee, and I swear I gain a pound thinking about it, but it was worth every calorie.

But the stories of the winery’s history our wine tour guide, Ron shared captured my writer’s sentimental heart. Founder Pierre de Wet’s story would do any hero proud. Born in South Africa, in 1984 after the death of his wife from skin cancer, he and his young daughters, age two and four, moved to America. Pierre worked as a farm laborer until he could buy acres in Tyler, Texas. Though in 1996 there were no wineries from Austin to Florida, Pierre was sure he could make a winery work.

The winery’s name comes from the Kiepersol farm where Pierre grew up. Legend has it soldiers running from a lion toward a lone tree, shouted, “Kiepersol! Kiepersol” as they sought safety in the tree. (Later it was learned the soldiers yelled, “We hope this tree will keep us all!” Pierre named his winery after that Kiepersol tree, hoping everyone who visited the winery would find that same comfort.

Pierre’s determination and frugality when he started his winery served him well. To lower startup costs, he purchased used equipment. In tough times he sold residential lots, eventually creating one of two wine estates in the U.S. In 2000, he harvested his first grapes. To sell his wine, he hired teenagers with signs and obtained retired Clydesdales for carriages rides that ended at the winery.

Photo: Kiepersol

I can’t share all the winery’s stories today, but I want to share one behind Flight sparkling wine. Guinea fowl have roamed the area for over 20 years as vineyard stewards. Their chatter safekeeps the grapes from deer and birds. They eat bugs serving as nature’s pesticide. Guinea fowl spotted feathers are believed to be good luck charms. Now to the name. The winery says, “We believe each spotted feather found represents a releasing of the past. Flight is grown in a place where one can feel soulfully grounded while also letting dreams soar. So. Take Flight my friends.” That sentiment makes me shiver.

I love visiting Texas wineries and hearing their stories. The minute I heard Pierre de Wet’s, I thought how I would’ve loved to create such a hero. The courage, strength, and determination he possessed to come to America with two young daughters when the only person he knew was a Texas A&M professor, astounds me. He created a winery, a bed and breakfast with fifteen rooms, an incredible restaurant, a distillery, and an RV park! But most importantly, he raised two strong women who carry on his legacy.

Pierre de Wet and his daughters
Photo: Kiepersol

I may have found a retirement-keep-busy-and-involved career. What could be better than telling a winery’s stories, meeting fabulous people, especially if I could be paid with an occasional bottle of wine and dinner?

Today I’m giving away this horseshoe decoration and a signed copy of To Tame a Texas Cowboy. To be entered in my random drawing, leave a comment to this question. What is the best story you’ve heard or best/most interesting fact you’ve learned on a trip? Or, if you don’t have a story to share, just stop by to say hello or tell me about a real life hero in your life.

 

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Julie Benson has written five novels for Harlequin American, and her Wishing, Texas series is available from Tule Publishing. Now that her three sons have left the nest in Dallas, when she isn't writing, Julie spends her time working on home improvement projects, rescuing dogs, and visiting Texas wineries with her husband. Visit her at www.juliebenson.net.

41 thoughts on “Stories from My Winery Visit”

  1. It has been so many years since we have been able to travel since we are disabled. I know we learned about German food when we went to Frankenmuth, Michigan. Thank you so much for sharing. God bless you.

    • Debbie, the world has made it difficult to travel even if one isn’t disables! That’s why most of the places I visit are close to home like Tyler. (I live in the Dallas area.) I prefer weekend trips to long ones. They provide a simple breather from life’s responsibilities, and I then come back refreshed. Thank you for stopping by today. May God bless you as well.

    • Minna, it’s great to hear from you again! How is life in Finland? I bet your weather is better than ours is in Texas. It’s been 100 degrees or higher for so long. I saw the ten day forecast and nothing but the same.

      I’ll have to check out the real story of Ogopogo. Thanks for being here today. Take care and stay safe.

    • Kim, I had a terrible time thinking of what to have for a question or comment starter. I guess I should’ve asked y’all to name your real life heroes. I know Petticoat and Pistols followers have some incredible larger than life men in the family trees!

      Thanks for stopping by. I hope you have a fabulous week!

    • Debra, that’s so cool! So many hotels have great stories associated with them. My favorite is The Stanley Hotel, the inspiration for Stephen King’s The Shining. We stayed there for a friend’s wedding. I guess the one super haunted room where supposedly Jim Carrey had to leave during the night, books a year or more in advance! I don’t think I’m brave enough to stay in that room. Now the one where a former maid visits to turn down the bed or put away visitor’s clothes a possibility.

      Thanks for stopping by today. Have a great week!

  2. There is a windmill in Holland, Michigan that was brought over from the Netherlands. I love hearing the story of it’s history and the way they used the windmill arms to signal different things.

    • Rhonda, that’s a great story! I wonder why the windmill was brought over. The fact that it was used to signal different things is fascinating. Thanks for sharing that story with me today. Have a fabulous week. Take care.

    • Teresa, that is so wonderful that you found a place that interested you on the internet and actually visited it! Back in the day, I read an article in a small local magazine about Granbury, Texas, and fell so in love with it, we visited when my boys were babies. Granbury was inspiration for Lori Wilde’s Jubilee series, I think. I can’t remember for sure.

      Take care and have a great week. Take care and stay safe.

  3. Oatman, Arizona was very interesting as the history goes back to mining for diamonds. Clark Gable and Carol Lombard honeymooned in this very quaint town which is still clapboard buildings, olde time saloons and shops with tame donkeys walking down the street and even venturing into shops. At this time in our history it is also a place you will see bikers who are sight seeing and taking advantage of the old time saloons. It isn’t a very long main street (it is the ONLY street in Oakman) but it is very interesting. My husband let me take his picture inside a wooden coffin leaning against one of the buildings and we got to feed the donkeys carrots. As I said, they are very friendly.

    • Judy, what an interesting town! So many things that are so very different…friendly donkeys, Gable and Lombard, and bikers. I may have to put Oakman on my bucket list. Thanks for being here today. Take care and have a great rest of the week.

    • Wow, I never thought of that, but it makes sense. The animals we know today would’ve evolved and adapted from those on the Ark. Thanks for being here today. Have a great week.

  4. When we went on a road trip to Leadville, Colorado the history was fascinating and I still think about that trip. I was captivated with the town since it is was filled with history and stories. The story I learned about was Horace Tabor and his exploring in this mining town. His wife Baby Doe was also interesting to learn about.

    • Anne, I’ve only been to Colorado once, but from what I’ve heard, a lot of the places there have great histories associated with them. I keep saying I’m going back, but things like life keep getting in the way. Thanks for being here today and telling me about Horace and his wife. Take care and have a wonderful week.

  5. On my first trip to WVa i was walking through the town of Hundred this man was walking past me and he stopped to ask how i was. He said he was the principal of the HS and it was his birthday he was 100 yrs old. He said this was how Hundred got its name the founder was 100 and named it. He then said they dont think about and past or future only about today. What he said got me to thinking. And this was in 1966.

    • Emma, what a wonderful thing that man shared with you. He’s right. So many of us spend time grieving or complaining over the past and wishing for the future that we don’t enjoy today. I’m trying to do more of that –just be in the moment. Thank you for stopping by today and sharing that wisdom. Take care and have a fabulous week.

  6. Years ago on a vacation we came upon this unique sight. A desert in the middle of a very forested area and town. Running through this town was a very cold, beautiful river filled with salmon. What a sight to behold and so spectacular. Wild salmon in the middle of summer in a town filled with beauty. We were fortunate to view this phenomenon as it is only during a brief time.

    • Ruth, it sounds beautiful, and what a paradox! How wonderful that you got to see it. Thank you for sharing that memory with me today. Take care and stay safe.

  7. When I was young we went on a very simple week holiday to a lake. A rustic cabin, fishing, swimming and a rowboat with a small outboard motor which was delightful and perfect. What else does a little kid need? This beautiful lake is now a heritage site. It deserves this wonderful honor. The cabins are no longer but have been modernized and updated to fit into the beauty of the landscape.

    • Pearl, what a special memory. The lake sounds amazing, and you’re right. What more does a kid need? How great that the community realizes what a gift they have and are working to preserve it. Thanks for sharing that with me. Take care and have a great week.

  8. I don’t have a story to tell, but I will say, all the members of my family is a hero to me for different reasons, I love them all!

  9. Hi, my husband is a musician and he plays the saxophone, flute and the clarinet, he plays at wineries and wine bars plus in other places. it is really something that here in west Texas they have wineries which is really nice, the owners are always very nice. He has been playing at a winery that has a B and B also, we have never stayed in it. A long time ago we went to the museum of Judge Roy Bean in Langtry Texas and it is a really nice museum and I love his story. Thank you for the chance. Have a great week and stay safe.

    • Alicia, what a talented husband you have! The next time he plays at a winery with a B&B, you should treat yourself and stay. I love staying at B&B’s. They’re way more personal than hotels.

      Thank you for being here today and sharing reminding me about Judge Roy Bean and Langtry. I really should visit and learn more about his story. Take care and I hope the rest of your week is wonderful.

  10. oh thanks for sharing this wonderful story about the winery. I am glad you both had a fabulous time. this sounds like so much fun and relaxation. I learned some of the most wonderful/sad stories about the Cheerokee Trail.

    • Lori, the stories of so many of our Native Americans are tragic. So many broken treaties and forced relocations.

      Thanks for stopping by today. Have a wonderful rest of the week and stay safe with all this terrible heat!

  11. We went through Tyler in April this year. We stayed with friends, but it would have been fun to tour the winery and the restaurant sounds wonderful.
    We have traveled as much as we can and have heard so many wonderful stories and facts.
    Something I experienced in Bali way back (1971) before I got married was definitely memorable. In their culture, they believe the days are ruled by the spirits. Very simplified, at midnight the good spirits emerge and take over the world. As dark descends, the evil spirits rule. I was staying in a hostel and my room’s window faced the courtyard of the neighboring(?) house compound. One night, right at sundown a young teen girl started shrieking. They tied her to a pallet and several women sat around watching her. She never stopped screaming for about 6 hours. I left to go into the village for an hour or so and she was still screaming when I returned. It was very unnerving. None had a watch, nor was there a clock, but at exactly midnight she stopped screaming. They untried her and they went inside. They believe that curses can be put on families and those curses follow down through the generations. The curse tends to settle on one individual and they suffer the effects. This family had been cursed and it had fallen upon this girl since she was a young child. The evil spirit invades her body at sundown and possesses her. At midnight, the good spirits reappear and chase the evil spirit out. Evidently it happens relatively frequently. She just gets up and goes about her life until the next time.

    • Patricia, your story about the spirits is a chilling one. It’s the stuff horror or suspense stories are written about. Stephen King could do some scary things with those idea/legends about spirits and the scene you witnessed.

      Thank you for being here today. I hope I don’t have nightmares. Your story was worthy of one being shared in the woods by a campfire. Take care and stay safe.

  12. We’ve traveled more than 800 miles over the past two days–currently in Arkansas. I’m too tired to think, but I love learning new things about the places I visit.

    denise

  13. I been to Tyler and visited the Rose Garden. Beautiful place if you catch it when the roses are blooming. The Tyler Zoo is an awesome place to visit too.

  14. Hi, last month we took a trip on the Canadian Rocky Mountaineer. It is a beautiful train that leaves Vancouver and goes east to the Rocky Mountains of Alberta. On the way, we were informed of historical spots. The host of the train also told us that in one town, a woman named Doris loved to see the train and would stand on her balcony and wave both hands as we went by. So, all the passengers, of 20 train cars went to our windows and waved back to Doris. It was so fun, we noticed anybody waving at our train after that and returned the greeting. The host explained that this train brings people from other places to Canada to see the natural beauty and spend our money.
    I enjoyed your story and the research you have done. I’m new to Petticoates and enjoy the history stories.

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