A couple of weeks ago several VWWC members and I went to hang out with Charlie Peters of Grape Expectations Nevada School of Winemaking in Henderson. We went nuts and bought a barrel. But more on the “what was I thinking?!?” moment later.
We all arrived at just about the same time … and Charlie was waiting for us, bottles of wine at the ready.
Grape Expectations is located in an industrial park in Henderson – an unlikely place for a winery – but somehow, it all seems to work. There was no doubt that this was a winery; there were barrels from the floor nearly to the ceiling.
Charlie was, as expected, informative, gregarious, and generous. Because the winery is located in what is essentially an oversized garage, the “tour” part was limited, but the information part was not. Charlie shared his incredibly interesting story and showed us what a little American ingenuity can do.
I guess you can compare the laws about having a winery to the laws about having a brothel. You can’t do what you really want with too many people around. Kind of.
Having a “winery” in the truest sense of the word in Nevada is illegal if the county has more than 100,000 people. Just like a brothel. See the connection? Well – except for possibly the good-feeling part – that’s pretty much where the similarity ends.
Charlie literally changed the way that Nevada views and legislates winemaking. As noted, the incredibly archaic and stupid laws that are on the books guarantee that it’s almost impossible to start a winery in this state. I mean, aside from the weather. However, Charlie didn’t let a little thing like the law stop him. He and his wife tackled the law head on, and after contacting local representatives, state senators, and other lawmakers, he became a pioneer.
Actually, he put in place a whole new type of winemaking business – a school of winemaking. And if you’re a customer of Charlie’s, you know exactly how that works. You literally learn how to make wine by going through the entire winemaking process, from destemming to crush to bottling. He showed us all of the machines that are a part of the process, and confirmed that feet are no longer a part of winemaking.
For the entire time we were there, we had the opportunity to taste people’s creations. They ranged from good to “wow! this is pretty good!” Surprises galore!
This year, all of Charlie’s customers went with red wines, although he does do white wines if a person or group requests. Each purchase is an entire barrel, and reds, as expected, will do much better if it takes a while to go through all twenty cases that a barrel produces.
And that’s where we got in trouble.
We bought a barrel, put down enough money to get everything started, and now we’d like to invite a few others to join us in this adventure! The blend we decided on is Barbera 80/Cabernet 20, which is a very popular blend and results in a lovely, delicious wine. One case costs $120, and that’s what I bought. Others bought numbers ranging from one to three, and we decided to open it up to other locals who would like to join in.
There is no downside. Charlie encourages everyone to take part in the entire winemaking, including crush and bottling! Well, you kind of *have* to bottle … it’s how you get your wine! This is, after all, a school! We have plans to be fully involved – lots of people bring snacks to enjoy during particular processes, and impromptu parties are not unknown. While most of it is a “hurry up and wait” process, it is punctuated by moments of fun!
Want to join us? Just contact me at email@example.com, and I’ll pass on the details to you. As an fyi, time is of the essence — it’s harvest and crush time!
If you want to know more about Grape Expectations and get a bunch (hahaha) of your friends together for a barrel, check out their website at GrapeExpectationsLasVegas.com.
Grape Expectations Nevada School of Winemaking is located on Whitney Mesa just off of Mountain Vista in Henderson, Nevada. They can be contacted at (702) 806-3383, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Enjoy the slideshow!
- New Jersey’s wine market is aging well (philly.com)
- East Coast’s Only Facility to Make Your Own Barrel of Wine — Releasing First Vintage (2009) of Red Wines This Week (prweb.com)
- Grape Growing & Wine Making: A guidebook for beginners (grand-alliance.com)