Valley Mills Vineyards is located in Waco and is owned by Dr. Bill Peper and Amy Peper along with John and Kandi Bagnasco. The winery was opened November 2010.
Update June 19, 2013: The Bagnasco family now owns Valley Mills Vineyards solely and the winemaker is Craig Parker.
I have visited Valley Mills Vineyards a couple times and the last time I visited I took the opportunity to take a wine class led by Bill Peper. The class was called Vine to Wine and it was a tasting of Valley Mills Vineyards Texas wines along with Dr. Peper explaining the process it took from vineyard to winemaking and finally to the finished product. There are two classes left and if you live near Waco, I would recommend you take one of the classes. The class dates left are September 11 and 16, 2012.
I am glad I went back a second time to the winery as the first time the only people in the winery were the tasting guides and it was a little tough getting some answers to questions. This time John and Kandi Bagnasco’s son Joey was behind the counter and he could answer any question. I also got to meet Kandi Bagnasco who was very nice even though she refused to let me take her photo. Just kidding Kandi!
Valley Mills Vineyards actual vineyard is located in Valley Mills, hence the name, and their winery is located in Waco. They first planted two grape varieties in 2007. They are now up to six acres of vineyards growing six varieties of grapes. The winery uses 100% Texas grapes in their wine. It is usually about 50% grapes from their vineyard (this year they used 11 tons) and about 50% from the High Plains. They are also using grapes from another four acres of local vineyards. The winemaker is Bill Peper and John Bagnasco is the vineyard manager.
Tastings are done standing at the tasting bar and are poured with a measured pourer. There is a tasting fee for whatever wines they currently have and at my last visit it was five wines. They will have a Rosé coming out in a couple weeks. The bottles all use corks and if you want to pay a higher tasting fee, it will include a logoed glass. Crackers are available to use while tasting. When you are done tasting, you can enjoy a glass of wine at one of the many available tables. Cheese and crackers can be purchased to enjoy with the Texas wine.
We had the wine class right behind the tasting bar which is also where the production facility is located. During the wine class, we learned that Bill Peper prefers to use a basket press instead of the commonly seen bladder press. They also use both French and American barrels in the making of their wine.
The first wines done during the tasting were a Viognier from stainless steel and a Dry Viognier which was in American oak for six months. The Viognier grapes came from the Bingham Family Vineyards. Also available is a Muscat Canelli 29%/Semillon 71% blend, a 2010 Tempranillo which Bill Peper said could you could lay down for two more years, and a Bin No. 1 Red which is a Tempranillo and Malbec blend.
We learned that Dr. Peper was a heart surgeon and still operates every day, but not heart surgery any more. In fact one person’s mother in our wine class had her heart operated on by Dr. Peper and his first question was, “How is she doing?” It was nice to hear that she is doing well. Dr. Peper was very enjoyable and fun during the wine class and if he is available during your regular stop at the winery, tours should be available.
Live music events are held monthly at the winery including private parties, birthdays, and wine dinners. A nice gift shop is present with wine accessories, clothing, and other items. A wine club is also present at Valley Mills Vineyards.
When I asked the typical question on how many cases of wine they produce a year, Kandi Bagnasco was present and between her and Joey, they calculated they had done 650 cases in 2011.
A good time was held at Valley Mills Vineyards and again, if you get the chance to take a wine class, definitely do so. Otherwise, just stop by and enjoy some 100% Texas wine.