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Brodies' vineyard yield sweet memories
Liberty lore
LibertyLore 3
The sales stand still stands on Highway 84 in Walthourville. - photo by Photo by Margie Love
The radiator in the tractor has a hole in it and it needs a new water pump,” my husband, Gene, told me one evening last week after coming home from our farm in Tattnall County.
He wanted to know if there was a radiator shop in Hinesville and I referred him to Larry Kennedy at Star Radiator.
My mind went back to the time Harlon and I bought the 1953 Ford Jubilee tractor from the Brodie farm in Walthourville about 10 years ago. I had read an ad where they would be selling wine jugs and crockery urns along with a tractor.  I was interested in the crockery urns. Before we left the sale we had purchased several five-gallon jugs, crockery urns and the tractor from William Brodie’s son.
I found an article that was published in the Liberty County Herald on Oct. 2, 1975, about the grape vineyards that were so popular and familiar to all around.  Brodie’s vineyards were on Highway 84 in Walthourville. There was a large field of cedar trees along with the grapevines.
During December, the field was filled with families selecting just the right Christmas tree. Today, Cedar Hill Mobile Home Park is there. The old roadside fruit stand across the road still stands but is not used.
“For nearly 17 years, since 1958, the Brodie vineyards have provided Liberty County with some of the finest eating, preserving and jelly-making grapes. On any late summer day and through the early fall, just before the first frost, you could stop by the roadside and buy a box or two of grapes.  
Mr. and Mrs. William Henderson Brodie are the owners of the 12-1/2 acre vineyard. Bill Brodie got into the grape business after his doctor told him to “go home, get your things in order, you’re going to die.” Brodie said, “I got to thinking what I could put in the field, and I decided not to put in anything like pines. Because I couldn’t see them grown,” so he decided on grapes. That was a number of years ago and at 82, Bill Brodie is a hard man to keep up with.
Brodie, a native of Philadelphia, bought the land on which his home and vineyards are located in 1926. He worked for Curtis Publishing Company for 25 years as a four-color pressman for the Saturday Evening Post and in 1940, Brodie, his wife, Katherine, and two sons came to Georgia.
The Brodies own the only vineyards in Liberty County. The acres of grapes are divided into four main sections. In these sections, they grow an abundance and varied amounts of grapes. There are Higgins, Hunts, Yugas, Topsails, Wallaces, Owens, Magoons, Tarheels, Cowarts and Frys. Each row of grape vines is from 500 to 800 feet long and each individual vine produces about 2-1/2 bushels of grapes per season. The season lasts from mid-August until the first freeze.
All of the grapes ripen at different times. The Yugas are the last to ripen.
Brodie uses no insecticides on his grapes and does not like to kill any of the birds that nest in the vineyards or snakes that occasionally feed there.
“If I need any insecticides, I use a water and garlic solution,” he said, “That’ll get rid of the bugs.”
Little, if any, commercial fertilizer is used on the Brodie farm. Bill Brodie prefers to use compost made from grape hulls and weeds as fertilizer.
Katherine Brodie, also a native of Pennsylvania, met her husband while she was working at the Saturday Evening Post. She shares her husband’s enthusiasm for grapes and agrees with him that, today, there are not enough people growing fruit crops.
She has her personal vineyard next to her house and one of her favorite projects is her azalea garden behind the house.
The Brodies have enjoyed their vineyards and enjoyed, for these 17 years, seeing the fruits of their labor every fall as they harvested and sold their grapes. For the past five years, they have leased their vineyards to Mr. and Mrs. Luther Reddish of Long County. The work is becoming a little more than the Brodies can handle alone, and, now, their land is for sale.
Many have enjoyed the abundance of grapes in Liberty County and there are few who can resist the urge to stop on the roadside and buy a basket of these fresh, sweet, sun-ripened grapes. It will be sad to see the Brodie Vineyards join all the other memories of things as they were in Liberty County in a simpler, quieter time.”
I do not recall the year Dennis Waters purchased the cedar tree field and the grape vineyard for his mobile home park. But, I do remember Bill Brodie let anyone who wanted to dig some grapevines up before they were bulldozed.
Harlon and I went there and dug up several different varieties. We built a grape arbor behind our house on Griffin Road. My son, David, lives there now and the grapes from Brodie’s vineyards are still producing many grapes each year.
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