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From tobacco to grapes: La Belle Amie Vineyard

From tobacco to wine at La Belle Amie Vineyard in Little River. (Amanda Kinseth/WPDE)

A local vineyard is getting ready for one of their busiest events on Saturday, July 16.

The Parrot Head Festival at La Belle Amie Vineyard will features food, wine and island-style music.

The La Belle Amie land has been in the same family for 100 years, but it hasn't always been a vineyard.

Vicki Weigle, who checks on her grapes every few days, didn't plan on having a vineyard.

She settled into the new way of life after moving here to take care of her mother, who was born and raised on the land that used to be a tobacco farm.

"Farming tobacco is extremely difficult," said Weigle. "It wasn't something I was interested in."

So, Weigle decided to plant a vineyard with muscadine grapes and build a winery instead.

"Of course everyone thought I was out of my mind," said Weigle. "But it all worked out."

People from across the world now come to La Belle Amie Vineyard for music, food, and of course, wine.

The wine is called Twisted Sisters.

"My philosophy is you only need to know two things about wine. You either like it or don't like it. Anything else you learn is a bonus. Wine should be fun and should not be stuffy," said Weigle.

She named the vineyard La Belle Amie in honor of her mother, and while her mother is no longer around, Weigle and others can appreciate the charm and beauty of the transformed farmland.

"I love it when people come out here and they enjoy the vineyard almost as much as I do," said Weigle.

"We have a lot of local customers," said Weigle. "They come here on a regular basis and they call this her happy place."

It certainly is her happy place.

The Parrot Head Festival is Saturday from noon until 5 p.m. at La Belle Amie in Little River.

You get reduced admission price if you bring two canned goods that are donated to a local food shelter. Visit labelleamie.com for more information.

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