"The beach road began about a quarter of a mile from the school. It was a dark and brooding part of the Island, very wild and uninhabited. Purple and yellow wildflowers grew in profusion. The first time I walked the road I was shocked to find two odd-looking brick structures on a curve in the road. There was a sign on one of the buildings that read SILVER DEW WINERY 1953." Pat Conroy, The Water is Wide
You didn't know Daufuskie Island had a winery..... imagine that. But neither did Pat Conroy as he was taking a walk one day to get a little private
time away from the kids. Now if he would have been there just a few years prior he may have made another entry into his book that may have read
something like this. Upon approaching the building I was surprised to meet a fine gentleman by the name of Papy Burn. He was a welcoming sort of
character with a spirited twinkle in his eye. He offered me a taste of his scuppernong wine and before long I forgot why I was taking a walk in the
Yes folks, Daufuskie Island has a winery and it just happens to be the first licensed winery in the state of South Carolina. Papy Burn, Keeper of the Bloody Point Lighthouse, had long passed by the time of Conroy,s visit but surely would have been the topic in a chapter of his book. You see, Papy made wine from anything that would ferment and gave it away to
his friends. Why he licensed the winery with the state is still in question but it may have been due to the fact he was also the Island's magistrate and close friends with frequent visitor SC Governor Strom Thurmond.
Anyone that has ever taken a tour of Daufuskie probably has captured a picture of this fine unique brick structure. It seems to call to you like
many National Register of Historic Places Properties do. The Winery building was built in 1883 as the base of a tall standing metal lighthouse structure. The Bloody Point Lighthouse three quarters of a
mile out to sea performed as a front light and the Winery building served as a back light. The lights were aligned by mariners and assisted them in
entering the Savannah River. The other building mentioned by Conroy was the oil house. Its thick brick walls and dark confines provided a fine
place for Papy to age his wine. Pencil markings are still visible to this day.
After purchasing the Bloody Point Lighthouse in 1999 I was approached by Papys Grandson to purchase the adjacent winery buildings as well. At the time it put a strain on my budget but I just knew I was destined to own those buildings. That became evident when restoration of the building began and the entire roof structure was found to be beyond repair. Only with high school Shop 101 as a guide, an entire blistering hot Summer was spent on that roof. Huge timbers from North Carolina were hand cut and pegged. Miraculously, the SILVER DEW WINERY was back to its original 1883 splendor and historic charm.
So now I have a winery building with no wine. That was taken care of in short order as a marketing plan was developed, labels designed and South Carolina wine take out license and Federal trademark obtained. I then contacted Bob Sabatini at Ben Arnold Sunbelt. We chose a fine wine from California that would be labeled Silver Dew Winery under my
specifications and marketed as a Commemorative Wine in honor of Papy. Bob's professional choice proved to be spot on and Silver Medals from Hilton
Head's past Winefest celebrations hang proudly in the winery as a result.
So the next time you are on Daufuskie search out those two brick structures noted by Conroy on a curve in the road and sit a spell. We will spin a few yarns and maybe, just maybe I will break out my harmonica and blow a few tunes. But one thing is for sure, prior to your departure we will lift our glasses and give a cordial toast To Papy.