ABOUT DEMOCRACY: The Founders
How does a rich collection of political memorabilia and a passion for wine lead to founding a winery? As a couple, Jim Turpin and Susan Prokop are well known in local, state and national political circles.
Susan is an Arlington Virginia native, who came to Central Virginia to attend The University of Virginia where she earned an MPA in Public Administration. Susan, who served as a legislative aide in Representative Marcie Kaptur’s office on Capitol Hill, is currently an Associate Director for Advocacy with The Paralyzed Veterans of America. She is well known for her passionate promotion of disability rights and work advancing full participation in society for people with disabilities.
Farming has been in Susan’s family since her ancestors emigrated in the mid-1800s from what is now the Czech Republic (hence Velvet Revolution) and settled in Nebraska. Her father’s grandfather established a homestead with 160 acres of prime farmland, much of which remains in the extended family. The family farm on her mother’s side near Lincoln, Nebraska was split between her great-grandfather’s sons, leaving Susan’s mother without any property. Susan takes pride in knowing that, after a successful legal career, her mother bequeathed an estate sufficient enough to fund the Democracy Vineyards land acquisition
Born in Chattanooga Tennessee, Jim grew up in Georgia and came to Virginia in 1971 to attend Virginia Military Institute. After seven years of continuous campaign work for a variety of clients, Jim work shifted to lobbying. His background includes many political posts and as well as a strong interest in automobile racing. He is proud to say that during the 1980s he was the only registered lobbyist with a NASCAR® Competitors license. The one time Republican, Jim has served in a number of posts in the Democratic Party of Virginia over the last twenty five years.
Wine touring has been a big part of Jim and Susan’s time together. After years of visiting vineyards, getting to know many of the Virginia winery owners and contemplating what they wanted to do as an “encore career” they decided to become winegrowers. One day, the couple was trying to figure out what they might do with Jim’s collection of historic campaign paraphernalia – which includes pieces from the days of the Whigs through the New Deal to the Nixon-Humphrey 1968 campaign – when they eventually move to Nelson. When they realized they could decorate a tasting room with all that stuff, the name naturally followed.