Discover - The Williamsburg Winery

“ Enjoy life.”

Those are more than a saying on every one of our corks.

Those two words capture the vision that took shape when we imagined a place not just to make wine but to make memories. Because in the end, all we take with us are the memories. We cherish the ones we’ve made over the last 40 years at Wessex Hundred, which at its heart is a family farm splendidly located in Colonial America. We enjoy the good wine we make here, the food so carefully sourced and prepared, the restoration that comes from a night in our hotel, the peace that a walk through our woods inspires. But mostly we enjoy one another by reliving old memories and making new ones with simple shared pleasures that will not be forgotten.

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Rolling up the nets as the sun rises over the chardonnay block at The Williamsburg Winery October 19, 2021.

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The Wessex Hundred Black Forest

Ask Patrick Duffeler to choose his most cherished spot on the Wessex Hundred farm or even better, have him take you there. It’s traveling best done in a motorized cart with him navigating the bumpy terrain, whisking past the Chardonnay vineyards, a nod to the deep ravines and flats where the deer often graze in the evening.

You see the spot where you are going long before you arrive, but nothing prepares you for actually being there, inside the Black Forest, where Duffeler returns to his roots with every visit.

Wessex Hundred’s Black Forest is not as famous as the one in southwest Germany where Grimm set many a fairytale. A young Patrick regularly accompanied his uncle and brother into those woods for an adventure. Patrick’s mother also shared her appreciation for nature with her boys, relishing annual outings with them to spy the cherry trees in the spring. Her respect for nature inspired his.


Creating his own Black Forest required the same meticulous attention to detail that went into transforming a dilapidated farm into a winery with an onsite hotel. And make no mistake. The Black Forest is every bit as valuable to Duffeler as the business he founded.

The forest of pines and oaks, expanded by 62,000 loblollies all planted by Duffeler from 1985-91, extends approximately 75 acres. He hand planted many of the trees by hand when they were just seedlings; the voracious reader in him devours books about trees that are part of his personal library that never stops growing.

An escape into his Black Forest starts with changing into military fatigues and a pair of boots. Thick gloves cover his hands, and a holster of tools accompanies his trek to land he feels privileged to steward. His vow to take care of the woods by removing the parasite plants so the trees thrive is as serious a business as nurturing the vines that bear the fruit for the wines. He’s as much environmentalist as businessman. Committing a portion of the farm to conservation is a legacy onto itself.

Standing underneath the Black Forest’s canopy informs his own stature, which he refuses to overinflate. Consider the cover of the winery’s 2021 annual report is not of a designer label or a special release. It shows Duffeler, “the dwarf” in his words, in front of a pine in the Black Forest that towers 100 feet above him. It’s imposing size reminds him of a perspective he’s never lost. Fresh air matters. Inhale it. The trees and their root systems possess a wisdom we can only partially understand. Respect that. Pause to marvel at the babies — young oaks and even a stray magnolia or two — beginning a new life cycle. Appreciate that. Hear the rustle of the breeze, the songs of the birds, the quiet from within that drowns out the noise of the day. Simply listen.

A walk in the Black Forest woods is respite within the larger respite that is Wessex Hundred. It’s where Duffeler does his best thinking, and 40 years after purchasing the farm, it’s a place to experiment. He’s not a microbiologist but as a student of soil, he’s always seeking newer and better ways to improve the winemaking process despite some saying the winery has perfected it already.

Here in his Black Forest is where Duffeler finds it easiest to find the peace to enjoy life the way it is meant to be lived.

Guide to Wessex Hundred

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