David and Lena McFalls have been lifelong entrepreneurs - running a day care center, making and selling soaps and custom knives.
In retirement, it was time for yet another venture, and David McFalls, 62, had an idea - a muscadine vineyard.
Last spring, McFalls planted 157 muscadine plants, native to the Southeastern United States, on his 15-acre property at S.C. 97 and Ebenezer Road outside Smyrna.
In a few weeks, the muscadine berries that range in color from bronze to dark purple to black will be ripe for the picking, ready to be plucked from the vine and eaten or cooked into jams, jellies and pies.
"I've been fooling with this stuff all my life," said McFalls, a McConnells native who started his post-retirement project with the idea of a farmers market.
Two years ago, he began to clear the land on his property, put up a red building and sold some fruits and vegetables. It was a fledgling venture called David's Garden.
The idea grew.
He and Lena put in a kitchen and opened a small restaurant, the Kitchen at David's Garden, which does a brisk 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. business in sandwiches, soups, salads and ice cream.
The farmers market alone wasn't enough to keep the business going, so McFalls tweaked his plan. He sells fruit trees and a few other types of trees, as well as mulch and rocks.
And last spring, he planted the muscadines on about 1.5 acres of his property. This month and through September, the vines will bear the first ripe fruit.
"I've raised them for years, but not in this quantity," McFalls said. "I just got to thinking, this would generate some money in the fall of the year, because people love muscadines - you can make jelly, you can make wine, you can make pies out of them."
Muscadines were discovered by the early colonists, and have been a favorite of Southerners ever since. McFalls already has some experience in selling the berries.
He bought muscadines from another grower in Gaffney and brought them back to Smyrna to sell. Only a few growers produce muscadines, he said. But he said they are popular enough that he decided to grow his own.
The grapes, which McFalls grows organically, are available in dozens of varieties, with names like Black Beauty, Darlene, Granny Val, Ison and Late Fry.
"The ones I've got have a high sugar content, somewhere (around) 20 percent sugar content," he said. "They're very sweet."
Lena, who bustles around the eatery's kitchen preparing for the lunch crowd, said she used to make jams and other treats from muscadines. The McFalls plan to sell the berries, but not make the jams or wine.