JUNE 11, 2018

by Deborah Tillman


It all began with a phone call in 2003  from Charles’ cousin offering to sell the Padgett Home place where Charles was raised.  Seven generations of Padgetts had lived on the the property since 1812, and Charles and his family were going to be the 8th and 9th generations to restore the legacy of a strong work ethic, family, agriculture, and business that was once abundant at Tison Crossroads.

Well the sale was made and now “the rest of the story!”  

The restoration of the home and the enchantment felt as the land was reclaimed from unbridled wisteria and wild muscadine inspired the need to make something of the land, to farm it, to enjoy its beauty.  And the vision of a Georgia Farm Winery was born and became a reality in May of 2012 offering a wine production facility and Tasting room where our wines could be tasted or purchased.  Bronze, Silver, and Gold awards adorn our very dry to very sweet wines , yet our most valued honor is when you tell us , “this is the best wine I have ever had, and I just can’t drink  anything else!”   

As God has blessed Watermelon Creek Vineyard with new faces that are guests-turned -friends from Tattnall and surrounding counties, the vision has expanded to include meal service with an expertly equipped “scratch Kitchen” which is home to our two chefs, Richard Nanney and Martina Anderson, and is a creative environment in which they are given the freedom to design unique culinary creations offered in our “Winestaurant” and by advanced reservations to your special group in our private banquet facilities.

Our desire to offer more for our guests in the form of later hours and an expanded menu required an experienced culinary staff.  We have invited Richard and Martina to join our “dream team” and take our meal offerings to new levels using fresh ingredients that pair with our muscadine and blueberry wines.  They are encouraged to surprise our guests and have created a special “Date Night Thursday” surf and turf menu for two( by reservation) to give a couple that mid-week escape during these warm summer evenings!  With their unique talents and varied pasts you can almost see the sparks fly as they chop, whisk, cream, and sear while creating that special dish for tonight’s menu.  Richard and Martina  in the same kitchen are a pair where one and one is not two but eleven!!  It is amazing to see the “iron sharpening iron”!

Richard Nanney, our Executive Chef, began his culinary journey working in Savannah restaurants where he witnessed the care and skill of master chefs from elite domestic and international kitchens. One head chef noticed his interest and took him “under his wing” to teach him the basics of preparation and presentation and flavor layering.  Richard’s passion for food not only ignited but was fueled and continues to expand, as he never misses a chance to expose himself to the next culinary experience. His attention to the detail in the cut of meat or the slight hint of that perfect spice in a sauce is amazingly impressive!

A native of Vidalia and father to Henry(“little Richard”), Richard’s past includes culinary positions at Savannah’s “Il Pasticcio” and “Alligator Soul”, and “Elements” in Lyons.  His reward is a guest’s smiling face as they savor that first bite as his carefully chosen herbs and spices blend with sauces, hand -carved meats, seafood, vegetables and pastas.  A sensitive soul, he lets his mood guide his palate and his sense of creativity.  We want you to sense his passion!

Martina Anderson, our Director of Culinary Events, is a native of Hampton, Virginia and received an Associates of Applied Science in Culinary Science from the Culinary Institute of Virginia, Norfolk with a GPA of 3.4.  She moved to Baxley to be near her mother 6 years ago and is a mother of three boys who make her eyes twinkle!  Past culinary positions include Line Cook - Embassy Suites Hotel, Hampton, Virginia, Line Cook- Talons Grill, Vidalia, Executive Sous Chef - Hawks Point Golf Club in Vidalia, and Chef- Morrison Healthcare at Meadows Regional Medical Center, Vidalia.  Several of Martina’s past events include the catering for the Vidalia Citizen of the Year banquet, the VPD Policemen’s Ball, and also feeding  8,000 hungry naval personnel off the ships in Norfolk.

With Martina’s past in the catering world she personally manages all meal preparation and banquet hall staffing for our banquet hall events.  Her presentation and attention to detail is evident and serves to make your event here unique and memorable.  Your group of 10-300 can be accommodated in our event facilities where you can enjoy a private area in a sophisticated space overlooking our 4 acre pond and horse field.  From business retreats and training to class reunions and sorority balls your event is unique and given the priority it deserves with Martina at the helm!  

Someone once asked us when we communicated certain Tasting Room standards, “ Who do you think you are, Napa Valley?”  Well, no, we are NOT Napa!  We have been there, and it is so beautifully manicured and lovingly maintained with vineyards and wineries at every turn.  We are blessed to say that we are “South Georgia” with family roots that go deep into this sweet soil of Tison with a welcoming southern hospitality, a place you can sit and savor life’s affordable pleasures with friends and family that now offers luncheon and supper menus prepared by two of the most talented chefs you will find in the Southeast!  Upon entering the property you’ll find yourself transported to a quieter, simpler time. Our focus is to elevate your senses for a unique retreat. 

Deborah Tillman
Deborah Tillman