Whether you prefer red or white, sparkling or dry, wine is big business in Texas. And for the enthusiast, the state offers more than 400 wineries for you to visit.
A short drive west of Waco to Valley Mills will transport you to wine country! At Valley Mills Vineyard, the Bagnasco family is focused on producing the best Texas wine possible.
Winemaker and general manager, Joey Bagnasco, is understandably proud of their newest wine offering.
"This is the first-ever bottled sparkling wine that we've released and petulant natural," said Bagnasco."The French phrase for this style of sparkling wine refers to an ancestral method of producing a natural sparkling wine by letting the fermentation finish in the bottle.”
Bagnasco's family European roots run deep.
“Well, wine is very much part of the culture in France and in Italy, and that was part of what inspired, I think, my folks, my father, especially to get into the wine business," Bagnasco said.
A natural fit for growing a wine business --which is a slow and deliberate process.
“It's been almost 15 years in the making now. We started clearing this site in 2006, and the building that we're sitting next to was completed in early 2019, almost three years ago," said Bagnasco.
Valley Mills Vineyards produce 3-thousand cases a year of a variety of wines, some 36-thousand bottles.
It's a generous contribution towards Texas being the 5th largest producer of wine in the U.S. Adding 13.1 billion dollars to the state’s economy.
And wineries attract some 1 point 7 million tourists each year.
The valley mills vineyard is a favorite gathering place for friends. A beautiful venue for wine-tasting, music, dancing, and even weddings.
Amanda and Kelby stopped by for a quiet glass and to enjoy the beauty of the surroundings.
“But isn't this just delightful? said Amanda. "Oh my gosh. Besides, besides, you know, whenever we're walking up the stairs and we came out here and I was like, this is literally beautiful, like the hills and just like the scenery, I was like, this is gorgeous.”
The Hill Country around Fredericksburg is considered the heart of wine country in Texas, but Bagnasco tells 25 News great grapes are being grown in Central Texas.
“It's kind of the wild west for viticulture, for grape growing because we're not an old established region where the rules are already set," said Bagnasco. "Here in Texas, we get to experiment. We get to grow the grapes that we think are going to do best in our warm continental climate.”
No matter the season, there’s a beauty to a vineyard and no shortage of work to be done, said Bagnasco.
“So right now, in midwinter, our grapevines are dormant and they'll kind of wake back up or we call that process bud break, right? They'll have new green growth in late March or early April.
But before they break bud, we'll go through the pruning process, which is probably the most important part of growing grapes is to prune skillfully and correctly. (butted) yes, it definitely all starts with the agricultural side of things. And I would say I take really good notes every year and we're always focusing on what we can improve on the grape growing side and on the winemaking side.”
Valley Mills Vineyard is open every day from noon to 6 p.m. They invite Central Texans to come; taste a little Texas in your glass.