TRAVELERS REST, S.C. (WSPA) – Tony and Debbie Beninati are originally from Long Island, New York, and were living in Florida making wine at home for fun.
Debbie said positive feedback changed their plans.
”Our friends said your wine is so good because we used to enter it in the Florida state fair and get prizes they said when you retire, you should open a winery.”
Retirement led them to look for some land. Tony said they found it, right here in the Upstate.
”We found this little piece of property years ago, it was all woods right down to the road. And didn’t really know what it was like, in fact we had to walk in here and it was so deep, we got lost.”
You’ll find Wellborn Winery tucked away in the trees north of Travelers Rest.
They cleared some land and planted the vines. They then had to come up with a name, a name that comes from Tony’s side of the family.
”Our family name is Beninati which is Italian/Sicilian. It translates into English as “well-born”. We thought the alliteration of Wellborn Winery sounded a lot better than Beninati Winery.”
All wine is made on-site. They have 500 grapevines on the property, but also bring in grapes and fruit for their fruit wines from local growers.
It’s a small operation, limited to a dozen or fewer cases of a particular wine each year. But they’ve got something for any palette.
A wine named after their dog, Lilly White, won “Best Estate Grown” wine in this year’s Palmetto Wine competition. It sold out.
Some of their other high-volume wines include Woodsy White, Rustic Red and Deep Purple.
When you’re done with those bottles? Debbie said they’ll take them off your hands.
”One of the main things we do is recycle because they don’t have glass recycling in South Carolina. We’ll take all of our bottles back with labels, but we’ll take other people’s bottles back too if they’ll soak the label off, so long as it’s not a screw top, so we can reuse them again.”
While they take bottles, they also give. They’ve been involved with fundraising for Make-A-Wish, and routinely offer up wine bottles for different charity auctions.
It’s the people on both sides of the counter that make Wellborn special. Tony said that winery guests are treated like friends and neighbors.
”I think just meeting so many different people. Being out here in the woods, you’re not on a main street, you can’t always say oh, hi neighbor, so we have people come in.”