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Hawkins Newest Business Set To Start Construction In November

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R.L. Winters investing in Wine Vineyard on FM 2869

 The September 19th Rotary meeting was the setting for two major announcements regarding one of the major players on the local business scene. R.L. Winters, owner and CEO of R.L. Winters & Companies LLC announced his retirement after 33 years in the Nursery business. His son, James H. Winters will assume control of the three operational divisions that currently center on the Nursery. James will become President and Operations Chief for the Construction, Irrigation, and Nursery divisions effective December 31, 2008.

Over the course of the last four years R.L. Winters has been studying to complete his second degree in Enology (the science of winemaking) and at the same time, actively developing the newest division of the corporation, Fairhaven Vineyards. Planting and production of new vines has been progressing rapidly since the 1st few months of 2005 and the total planting now exceeds 2900 mature vines.

His plans are centered on an active retirement in the development of Hawkins' first fully operational winery and tasting facility.

Fairhaven Vineyard has developed 11 acres and continues to expand with plantings of French American Hybrid Grapes and American Hybrid Grapes that include Seyval Blanc, Chambourcin, Baco Noir, Norton, and Lomanto. Production of table wines and fine wines is set for July 2008 with a target harvest of 5000 gallons of high grade juice. Short term planning is for the production 1650 cases or 19800 bottles. All products produced will be derived from grapes grown at Fairhaven and will carry the appropriate "Estate" labeling.

Of great interest is the extensive work Fairhaven is doing in the development of adapted varieties for East Texas. As an adjunct to the planting work for the vineyard, Fairhaven has made substantial progress in the area genetic research that has lead to one of the largest collections of rare hybrid vines in Texas. Fairhaven's work has drawn attention to the project (and Hawkins) on a national level with active interest from prestigious groups such as New York's, Geneva Breeding Lab and Dr. Andrew Walkers, UC Davis', Pierces Research Branch.

Many of these varieties date as far back as the late 1700's and have a proven track record of high quality juice production, disease resistance, and heat-drought tolerance. R.L Winters plans to use this proven genetic base for the development and production of new 100 year varieties for East Texas that will be called the "Heritage Series".

"Fairhaven's goal is to help to restore (the once great) Texas wine industry", says R.L. Winters. "And, at the same time, to provide local jobs and a superior product produced by a business that Hawkins can be proud of."

Last Updated on Friday, 24 April 2009 14:09  

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