Texas wineries are all over the state, and one of the up and coming areas is in East Texas where Naca Valley Vineyard is in Nacogdoches. Even though the winery has only been selling wines commercially since 2016, the wines have been winning awards already. Buzz Mouton is the winemaker and co-owner behind the winery, and we are proud to present Buzz Mouton as this month’s featured winemaker profile.
- What did you do before becoming a winemaker (if anything)?
I’ve been a college lecturer, an auditor, a worldwide quality assurance manager, a freelance photographer, and more. Everything I’ve done brings something positive to the table in operating the winery.
- What is the toughest challenge about being a winemaker in Texas?
For me, owning a small winery means I must wear many hats. It’s a big challenge to balance winemaking, vineyard management, facility construction and management, records and accounting, sales, and hospitality. Deciding what to prioritize at a given time is difficult.
- Is winemaking an art or a science or both?
It’s definitely both. Science is needed to understand the chemistry with the fruit, fermentation, brix, aging, and more, and then optimizing the measurables. But the creativity of art begins with taking the grape, finding the unique aspects the fruit has to offer that year, and developing its special characteristics. A grape has a personality that changes every year. Finding the keys to unlocking the grape’s glowing profile and capturing it at the right time within a bottle is special for each winemaker. It’s a skill that is necessary to successful winemaking and adds value to the process.
- What is your favorite food and wine pairing?
I enjoy experimenting with different pairings that most might not believe would pair especially well. We know that it’s not as simple as pairing white wine with fish and chicken, and red wine with red meat. It’s much more complex than that, and that’s the fun for me. One good example was the pairing of our sweet white Stellar with a hot and spicy chicken curry. The result was a beautiful and balanced combination.
- If you didn’t make wine, what would you do?
At this stage of my life, my requirement is that whatever I do must not be boring. I’ve worked all over the world in both boring and exciting jobs and professions. I enjoy coming to work every day and knowing I’ll be challenged with something new.
- What first attracted you to winemaking and how long have you been doing it?
Though I only became a professional winemaker a few years ago, I’ve been making wine since I was a teenager in my mom’s kitchen. She raised five kids and was a good sport in allowing us to satisfy our curiosity and try different things. One of my brothers made beer. I decided that winemaking would be more interesting. I made lots of messes in her kitchen that I had to clean up, but winemaking has always intrigued me.
- What is the most common question you are asked as a winemaker?
I’d like to say that it is some exotic question about the intricacies of winemaking or grape growing, but frankly, the most often question asked in the winery is which wines we use in our wine-a-ritas.
- After a long day in the winery or vineyard, what do you do?
As we are a small operation with many tasks to complete and few people to complete them, I usually get home late, eat dinner, take a shower, and go to bed. Quite often, however, my son Scott and I, who works full time with me, will be joined occasionally by my wife Wanda and our daughter-in-law Chelsea who also work in the business. We relax by taking a glass of wine outside in the beautiful piney woods of East Texas to sit by the fire pit in winter or the covered porch in summer. The sunsets are pretty and the ducks flying in over the vineyard to our nearby pond are always fun to watch.
- What’s the greatest part about being a winemaker?
For me, it’s more than just winning awards for the wine I make or owning my own business. It’s the joy and satisfaction I get working with my family every day. We’re building a legacy.
- Anything else you would like to add?
Naca Valley Vineyard is relatively new, but we are so thankful to the many people, both here in East Texas and those from far away, who have supported us with their business, encouraged us to continue, and allowed us to grow. We love our hometown of Nacogdoches, the oldest town in Texas, and we love sharing the beauties of our town and our business with our visitors. We continue to expand and grow, but we want to retain the unique ambience that draws people again and again to our winery.