Stephanie Franklin of Franklin Vines was born in Lake Charles, Louisiana and raised in Houston, Texas.
Over the years of working in corporate and the non-profit industries, she realized her passion was pulling her towards her purpose. She was challenged by a good friend to do what she loves, and those words catapulted her into a new yet seeming familiar world.
Franklin enrolled in The Texas Wine School to tap into her interest and as she likes to say, “The Vines Saved Me”. She started a wine blog to document her experiences and it seemed like the universe opened and presented new territories, opportunities and vines. After furthering her wine education, her purpose became clear, she wanted to plant a vineyard and become a winemaker.
One day in Lake Charles, Louisiana she was discussing her vineyard plans with a family member, Kevin Brown, who suggested that she plant a vineyard in Shankleville, TX. She didn’t see the vision at the time, but the idea weighed heavy on her mind. Almost a year later, she came to the realization that Shankleville would be perfect for her first vineyard.
Franklin felt so strongly about her vision, she formed a company without product. Franklin Vines LLC was established in December 2019. Going blindly into the grape-growing business, Franklin has done extensive research, discovering what resources needed to tap into, and how she was going to fund the vineyard. Her vision was clear and now she’s finding a way to bring it
Stephanie Franklin is a descendant of Jim and Winnie Shankle, the first African Americans to purchase and eventually own a “league” of land in the area of Newton County that is now known as Shankleville after gaining freedom by emancipation. She’s the granddaughter of
Guyler and Charlene Shankle and Della Mae and Earnest Franklin. Franklin’s plans are to plant a vineyard in Shankleville, TX. She would be following in the
footsteps of her ancestors by farming, and she would also be bringing something special and unique to her family town.
The Franklin Vines Vineyard in Shankleville would be a notable continuation of the 19th and
20th century Shankleville legacies of hard work, tenacity, and entrepreneurship. The Franklin Vines Vineyard will serve as a 21st century community-builder, skills-builder, and a catalyst for new jobs and economic development for one of Texas’ poorest counties. It would be the first of
its kind, broadening local views of land use, economic development, and tourism. It will offer learning opportunities for our youth regarding farming, farm/business management, and other career paths that can grow out of this venture. Franklin plans to add scholarships under her umbrella for any woman of color entering the field of agriculture and wine.
Sharing the history of the land with students and adults and building something unique would be a tribute to the foundation of blood, sweat and tears that my ancestors Jim and Winnie Shankle established so long ago.
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