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Harvesting Bliss at Sweet Vines Vineyard

By Nadirah Muhammad I Photos by Stephon Wicks

Family, faith, fun: these three words can be heard ringing loud and true in the ears and hearts of anyone who pulls into the Sweet Vines Farm Winery driveway, marked by its signature pink sign and a darling red truck welcoming visitors to an oasis of grapes and glamor. A cozy, boutique winery, elegantly tucked away in the country quaint town of Unionville, Virginia, this hidden gem holds a larger-than-life family history and a winemaker with a fabulous story to tell.

Photo of Sweet Vines Owner, Seidah Armstrong

Seidah, the owner and winemaker at Sweet Vines, started her own winemaking journey in 2006 and has been passionate about the practice ever since. But what she didn’t know when she first started out was that this newfound passion was a longstanding family practice. Soon after falling head over heels for the winemaking process, Seidah  discovered that she was a third-generation winemaker, and both her great-grandmother and her great-great-grandmother were winemakers based in Mississippi. When asked how she felt about discovering the family passion she says, “It’s in my DNA. If it wasn’t due to a hobby of mine, it would’ve been a lost story. This rich history of my great-grandmother and great-great-grandmother can now be preserved because of what became a hobby and stress reliever of mine.”

Part of Seidah’s personal ethos is to never let that legacy run dry. She grounds her viticultural journey in family traditions, and wines such as her signature blend entitled “The Ancestors,” work to honor and tell the story of these three generations. Keeping a watchful and undoubtedly proud eye on every tasting, pairing, or event that takes place in the winery, plaques of her family can be found perched proudly on the mantel and adorned on the tasting bar, behind which Seidah preserves the magic of matriarchal winemaking. Whether it be a popcorn pairing, a wine etiquette class, or a regular tasting session, Seidah’s energy, enthusiasm, and joyful spirit leave an impact that you will continue reflecting on until you plan your next visit.

Celebrating the history and preserving the legacy while paying homage to her family and the long line of female winemakers that came before her is of the utmost importance to Seidah. But this family focus doesn’t just stop at the decor and the multigenerational appreciation; instead, it bleeds into current day-to-day business operations. Seidah considers her winery to be a family affair, with her husband, brother, cousin, and many others all contributing to the art of Sweet Vines’ wine. Partnerships and leaning upon one’s network of people and partners is a practice that Seidah holds in high esteem, and one that has helped grow and expand her winery. Additionally, Seidah is a proud member of the AKA sorority, and her brothers and sisters of the divine nine have been an incredible support system and an integral part of her success. It’s an inspiring tale of collaboration, support, success, being encouraged to pursue your dreams, and creating a space at the table for others to chase theirs.

Steeped in family history and shaped by Seidah’s faith and commitment to making wine accessible and fun for everyone, Sweet Vines Farm Winery is the perfect blend, spanning far beyond just the vintages. A welcome change to the Virginia wine scene, Seidah’s impact not only preserves her family’s history but paves the way for future diverse wine professionals who seek to follow in her footsteps. When asked to reflect upon the waves she has made in the wine industry thus far and the work that must be done in the future Seidah says, “This is a male dominated industry, African American women only represent 0.0001% of this industry, so there’s room for growth, and I think Virginia is paving the way.”

 

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