By Carla Fackler
Carl and I both grew up in Iowa families who traced their roots to Europe, primarily Germany (Fackler and Schumann / Moeller), and began new lives in America as farmers. Carl’s family settled near Cedar Rapids in the mid-1800s, where remnants of the original farms, owned by brothers named Samuel and Valentine, can be seen near Fackler’s Grove. Carl’s father, who had a large, backyard garden and grape arbor in Indianola near Des Moines, made wine in his basement. My father’s family settled near the Maquoketa River in the late 1890s. My great grandfather, William Moeller, sailed to America as a 12-year-old orphan and was taken in by a German immigrant farm family, working to earn his keep. My Aunt Dorothy recalled that as a young child she visited his farm and tasted his homemade wine. Our large farm families spread throughout the fertile land of Eastern Iowa.
It took us 40 years to plant our first grapes, following moves from Iowa to Massachusetts (Carl’s internship and first year general surgery residency), North Carolina (U.S. Navy medical doctor assigned to U.S. Marines at Camp LeJeune), Massachusetts (orthopedic surgery residency through Harvard) and Atlanta (Peachtree Orthopaedic Clinic). Once settled in Atlanta and Brookwood Hills, Carl planted a large garden beside our house, and I harvested muscadine grapes from the backyard arbor for jelly.
Our three sons grew up in Atlanta, headed off to college and have spent most of their adult life overseas or some distance from Georgia. Two are married and have children of their own and return each summer to the vineyards from Tokyo and California. Our middle son, who returned two years ago after twelve years in Istanbul, now teaches at the University of Georgia and spends most weekends pruning, making wine or working in the Winery Tasting Room. Everyone ends up in the vineyards at some point; even the littlest of grandchildren.
A surprising number of physicians take up winemaking. (Carl jokingly refers to it as joining the world’s “second oldest profession.”) Carl’s medical background proved a bonus, especially the study of microbiology and organic chemistry in medical school. Preparing for winemaking meant going back to school, taking courses from the University of California, Davis, and visiting with vineyard owners and winemakers in the US, Europe and South America.