Our Story - The Williamsburg Winery

With over 50 acres of vineyards, a bountiful on-site garden, a hotel and a restaurant, The Williamsburg Winery is more than just a Winery.

To fully appreciate the ambitious goal to create a home an ocean away, in a place with free air and a pleasing climate to raise a family and start a business in an industry where most doubted we would succeed, we start with a look at history. It’s a timeline that began nearly a century before my late wife, Peggy, and I began the exhaustive search for a farm where we could plant grape vines.

While the first grapes were planted as early as 1609, wine and Virginia wasn’t anyone’s ideal pairing. I can’t say I wasn’t daunted by the challenge, but I accepted it, knowing no worthwhile project is ever easy. I was neither a winemaker nor a viticulturalist, but I had a firm grasp on both and the business acumen to persist.

Like all of us, I was shaped by events that happened well before my birth, a history that dates back to 1900. No, I wasn’t born until 1942, but many of the people who influenced me as a young boy — my father, George; my grandmother, Scarlett, and my great uncle — were shaped by the times that included two world wars. My Uncle Henry was a World War I veteran and one of the most genuine people I’ve ever met. What he saw as a 24-year-old soldier, the stories he relayed to my brother and me about a fractured society give me perspective to life in the modern day, which is not quite as bad as what some of the members of my family lived through.

The events that shaped them shaped me, a boy born in Brussels, Belgium in wartime Europe. The simplicity of conversations with them, many held outdoors in the fresh air underneath a canopy of trees, wasn’t lost on me. Many today would consider the world my family grew up in as primitive. Forget computers. My grandmother didn’t grow up with a phone and rarely knew of telegraph. My father and I remember a world with faces pressed against storefront glass watching pictures on a screen — the first televisions.

Williamsburg Winery owner Patrick Duffeler.
“Inside the Winery”

Read more about the Winery owner Patrick Duffeler.


But technology and its evolution all the way up to two people sitting in the same room sending text messages back and forth didn’t change my core belief shaped by my roots. The best communication is eye to eye, face to face. It’s not through a device. We do that best outside in the fresh air or indoors over good food and a glass of wine.

From an early age, I learned that family and family time are precious, worth preserving. We all, too, should be humble enough to walk past a mirror without looking at our own reflection thinking, “I’m important.” We all are born the same way and we all finish in dust.

That set of lessons ingrained in me, I came to the United States as a student finishing high school my senior year followed by the opportunity to study economics and finance at the University of Rochester. I was hungry to achieve in a country where I saw freedom and opportunity. I worked in marketing for an international division of Eastman Kodak while still in college.

The rest of my professional history has been well documented – a move to Switzerland to work at Philip Morris and subsequently head up the creation of the inaugural Marlboro Formula One Racing team. I owe a measure of my success to both at Kodak and as the youngest director of  Philip Morris International — Kodak from a formative point of view, Philip Morris from its management.

I stayed with Philip Morris for seven years, seven incredibly rich years. Being involved with Formula One racing was a thrill.

I was never a smoker nor was the president of Philip Morris at that time, for that matter. But when my father developed emphysema, that affected me and my future path. My father, a publisher by trade, was exceptional in so many different ways. His father was an importer of mechanical equipment from the United States that he distributed in Europe. In 1929, he had debt in dollars. Everything collapsed. Banks took over businesses. My father was a very cautious person. You would be after that.

He married my mother, Cornelia, in 1935. While they planned to have no children, my brother, Eric, was followed by me. My mother was a historian who loved taking us to castles and parks. By the time I came to the United States, I had traveled from Sweden to Portugal from Norway to Italy and everything in between.

We did things as a family and those times and their value wasn’t lost on me as a businessman. “I’m working for what?” I asked myself after my father’s diagnosis.

I joined an investment group in Geneva, where every week I was driving back and forth between that city and Beaune, the capital of Burgundy. I learned about the wine world. That’s wasn’t my first introduction to it. Back in 1956, during one of our family trips we visited Périgueux, an epiphany for me.

We were in a white tablecloth restaurant. I was 13; my brother was 15. My father wanted to baptize us in what fine wine and fine food represent. We enjoyed Foie Gras, a delicacy of the French. It was one of those epiphanies that clicked in my brain – rich food with rich wine, the right wine, matter.

Another snippet from my past — when I was at the airport in Paris prepared to catch a flight to Geneva. Wait, I was told, there are no planes in and out due to a fire. The traffic around the city was completely paralyzed — a four-lane highway underneath the airport was blocked in both directions. A short in the electrical wiring was the culprit that impacted the entire system over Europe.

The engineers who designed that airport never thought about what could happen. Don’t trust what’s fashionable. Don’t trust mental projections of fools. Details matter.

Everything matters and explains what came later and why.

Peggy had a disdain for big business, and the decision to be fully independent and forge our own path stemmed from her watching me working nonstop, spending days without seeing our family.

“You should do something you should really like,” she suggested.

We were drawn to Williamsburg, where we had previously visited. After an exhaustive search of 52 farms, we found this one — 300 acres alongside a creek where an agricultural business could blossom, a large parcel of land that we called Wessex Hundred, as the use of “Hundred” to name a property dates back to the Colonial era and describes parcels of land sufficient to support 100 families regardless of actual acreage. With several oversized barns in the middle of the property, amid hundreds of trees impressive in size, with the James River in our view, we went to work on a vision that no one else shared.

The steps to planting our first grapes in 1985, releasing the first wine in 1988 and earning our first Virginia Governor’s Cup in 1990 are detailed in a series of blog posts. Sharing my history and the history that came before that, adds a layer of context that permeates every step along the way of this 40-year journey.

The green space at Wessex Hundred reminds me of the woods where my uncle shared from his youth. The fresh food complemented by quality wine our patrons enjoy sitting under the wisteria at the Gabriel Archer Tavern take me back to that elegant meal in Périgueux.

The snarl at the Paris airport — what a mess you can have on your hands if you fail to account for everything that could happen. Be purposeful and intentional in what you do. We have strived to do that at Wessex Hundred, whether that be in the vineyards, as winemakers or as stewards to the environment.

History is our best teacher. Don’t overlook its wisdom. Learn it and even better, learn from it.

Patrick G. Duffeler, Founder

Meet our Leadership Team

Dr. Michael Weatherly

Chief Executive Officer

Meet Michael Weatherly, an accomplished individual who graduated from Virginia Wesleyan University in 2001 with a triple major in Psychology, Education, and Religious Studies. Demonstrating a commitment to continuous learning, he went on to obtain an MBA in 2005 and a Doctorate in Business Management in 2012 from the University of Phoenix.

Michael’s expertise extends across various industries, encompassing education, healthcare, tech consulting, innovation, sports, agriculture, wine, real estate, and nonprofit work. Beyond his business endeavors, he actively engages in philanthropy, particularly supporting veterans and those in need. His ownership of professional sports teams and involvement in agriculture and wine, including the establishment of Ecco Adesso Vineyards, exemplify his immersion in both the business and lifestyle aspects of these sectors.

In the summer of 2023, Michael Weatherly proudly became the CEO of The Williamsburg Winery, marking a new chapter in his diverse portfolio. This move is a result of his longstanding connection with Patrick Duffeler, further expanding his interests and ventures.

As a family-oriented traveler with a youthful spirit, Michael also serves as the Head Coach for Virginia Beach Little League. His multifaceted background reflects a passion for diverse fields, showcasing his lasting impact in academia, business, and community service.

Michael Kokolis

Chief Operating Officer

Michael A. Kokolis, a longtime hospitality executive, assumed his role as the winery’s Chief Operating Officer in April 2023. He joined the winery after spending the previous five years with one of the region’s largest hospitality companies, Gold Key PHR. During his tenure with PHR, Michael played a pivotal role in creating a brand/identity for the three hotels and eight restaurants that comprise the Cavalier Resort in Virginia Beach and was instrumental in the successful re-opening the Historic Cavalier Hotel & Beach Club in 2018, the opening of the Marriott Virginia Beach Oceanfront in 2020, and the opening of the Embassy Suites by Hilton Virginia Beach Oceanfront in February 2023.

A native of Indiana, Pennsylvania, Kokolis is a proud graduate of Penn State University and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Health and Human Development after majoring in Hotel, Restaurant, and Institutional Management.  With his rare blend of sales, analytical, and operational acumen, Kokolis has served as an advisor and speaker on cross-functional team leadership, branding & identity, and growing the profitability of revenue.  

Michael is a dedicated father to three beautiful children, a coach for youth football & baseball teams, and in his limited spare time he enjoys handyman projects, carpentry, golfing, and reading about America’s Colonial/Revolutionary history.

Stacey Lightfoot

Head Winemaker

An alumna of Stockton College with a B.S. in environmental studies and a minor in Chemistry, Stacey embarked on her career in water testing labs before joining Williamsburg Winery just before the 2006 harvest season. With her future husband, they vacationed often to Colonial Williamsburg and would visit the winery several times.  One day, while visiting a small winery in Minitola, NJ, they asked for a tour only to be hosted by the winemaker, who learned of Stacey’s vocation and practically offered her a job.  When they decided to make Williamsburg our forever home, Stacey applied for a job at the Williamsburg Winery right before the 2006 harvest season began, thinking it would be a fun place to work.  The team was quick to hire her! With an impressive 17-year tenure, Stacey extends her gratitude for the invaluable partnership, friendship, and mentorship she has received. She eagerly anticipates continuing the legacy by creating exquisite wines for the enjoyment of all.

Patrick Duffeler with The Art & Science of Viticulture and Winemaking Thursday June 3, 2021.

Patrick G. Duffeler

Founder & Chairman

Patrick Duffeler was born in Belgium of a Germanic family and educated in the United States. While earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics & Finance from the University of Rochester, New York, he embarked on his professional career at Eastman Kodak.

He later joined the international division of Philip Morris in Switzerland as Director of Marketing and Promotions. Patrick was instrumental in the development of the Marlboro World Championship Racing Team project which ushered the Marlboro brand into international motorsports, proving the value of promotional activity as a brand building mechanism. During these years, Patrick and his wife Peggy became the parents of two sons, Patrick II and Terence.


Patrick’s travels took him not only to Europe, but also Latin America, the Far East, the Middle East, and Africa. He independently became involved in the wine industry in Burgundy, France and forged relationships with many producers. Likewise, his interest in the hospitality industry burgeoned, and he had the chance to participate in a study for the development of a country hotel in Beaune, Burgundy. Both interests were the building blocks for a life-changing decision Patrick was about to make.

Patrick went on to serve as the International President of Fragrances Selective and balanced his time between two continents. In 1983, Patrick and Peggy, after an exhaustive search, purchased 300 acres of land in Williamsburg and founded The Williamsburg Winery in 1985. In 2007, his dream of a European-style Country Hotel came to fruition as the doors to Wedmore Place opened for the first time after 10 years of planning. Sadly, Peggy Duffeler, a driving force behind the business, had passed away in 2004, not surviving to witness the launch of the hotel.  Nevertheless, her spirit lives on throughout Wessex Hundred.

In 2007, Patrick was married to Françoise, a native of France.


Experience the Winery

Come see the many ways we’ve earned our place on the world wine map.