Local winery celebrates Fathers Day by honoring founder's memory

SMITH COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - A local winery has been in business in Smith County for 20 years.But what some people may not realize is the community connection Kiepersol truly has.

16 varieties of red and white grapes grow on 63 acres of beautiful green pastures. 

Kiepersol winery was born from a heartbreak, after founder, Pierre De Wet, lost his wife in South Africa.  He moved to America with a dream, his baby girls in his arms.

"In my dad's words, to run away from a broken heart, and come to the city on the hill as Reagan would call it," Kiepersol owner, Marnelle Durrett says.

With Father's Day just around the corner, Pierre's girls celebrate their father's memory by keeping the family business alive.

"We lost our father two and a half years ago, and we've really tried to honor him and keep Persepolis growing and going," Durrett says.

14,000 cases of wine are produced annually; but now, the winery has branched out and introduced its locally crafted rum, vodka, and bourbon whiskey.

Each batch of Jimmy's whiskey is aged two years in the Kiepersol port barrels.

The namesake comes from a 93-year-old, World War II torpedo pilot Jimmy Hines; who still lives in Jacksonville.

"It helps really establish the identity of the community, and a purpose to be a part of it and to live there, to move there, to drive people to that community," Durrett says.

Kiepersol will open their doors this weekend to allow the public to tour the winery and distillery, which could be a great idea for a Father's Day gift for East Texas dads.

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