Valley Mills Vineyards and Winery, and a TxWineGeek First.

We hadn’t even intended to visit any wineries on Sunday, but we had, surprisingly, gotten up early considering it was the Daylight Saving Time switch day, and weren’t quite ready to head home. We looked in the App for a winery we haven’t seen, and not too far. Valley Mills Vineyard.

When Julie found Valley Mills while researching for Texas Wine Traveller, she was pretty excited. She had worked for one of the owners, Dr. Peper for a while before moving to Houston. We thought that was pretty cool.

Valley Mills Vineyard’s tasting room is located just east of Valley Mills, Texas – which is “just west” of Waco.

We arrived just before noon on Sunday, and had the whole place and staff to ourselves – most of the Waco area folks were probably struggling with the DST change, so traffic was light.


The tasting room sits in the front of the production facility, giving visitors a full view of the barrels and tanks. For a smaller winery, I can see advantages and we really enjoyed being able to taste and browse at the same time. Since we were the only customers at the time, Kandi Bagnasco, our tasting guide and one of the proprietors of the winery, let us wander around, ask questions, take our time (and pictures), and taste at leisure.

Valley Mills Vineyards and Winery is a joint venture between the John and Kandi Bagnasco, and Bill and Amy Peper, with their first vineyard planting in 2007, barreled their first vintage in 2009, and opened their tasting room and production facility in 2010. While they continue to plant more acres of vineyard, they contract with other notable Texas vineyards for grapes and produce some notable wines from them all.

The “First”

I didn’t take notes on all the wines, but I did experience a “first” here. I thoroughly enjoyed every wine that we tasted at Valley Mills. There weren’t any wines that I considered to be “just OK”. I would enjoy having any of them in my cellar and serving them to friends and guests.

Here are the notes that I did take:

2010 Viognier – unoaked (Black bottle top)

I cringe whenever I try a Viognier because I was spoiled early in my Viognier tasting career with Jim Johnson’s Tio Pancho Ranch Estate Viognier. Naturally, I compare everyone’s offering to his since it’s my benchmark.

The Valley Mills unoaked Viognier holds its own with very mild aromas of grapefruit and honeysuckle and a smooth balance of acids with the alcohol. I was left with an aftertaste of sweet grapefruit that lingered. This is a “pairing” wine in my book – some fettucini alfredo or shrimp scampi would surely enjoy the company of this wine.

2010 Viognier – oaked (Silver bottle top)

I know that it’s big to create wines that pair well with different foods, but I look for “sipping” whites since I prefer dry red wines with my steak. 😉

The 2010 VMV oaked Viognier is one of those sippers for me. Sure, it will pair well with light meats, seafood, and creamy sauces, but I can just stand/sit and sip this one – that is if I can get my nose out of the glass and actually SIP it. The winemakers here selected the right oak to contribute vanilla, burnt caramel (think the crust of a creme brûlée), and smokiness that blend so well with the grapefruit, which is more up front than the unoaked Viognier, and honeysuckle which is more of a background aroma. In the mouth, the honeysuckle moves forward a little while the caramel steps even further back. It has a smooth, almost buttery mouth feel to it with medium-low acidity – at least that’s the feel of it.

Oh yes, it’s a sipper.

 2010 Tempranillo Rosé – (off-dry)

I’m not a big rosé drinker. Perhaps it was because the first rosés I had were bad, or the winemakers didn’t “get” how they should taste, but since most rosés that I try taste about the same to me, it makes more sense that I just don’t like them. I usually pass when a tasting guide offers a rosé these days… I didn’t at Valley Mills.

The 2010 Tempranillo Rosé is off-dry, presenting a wonderful, sweet rose (not rosé) and light cherry aroma with a well-balanced cherry flavor complemented by mild tannins and medium acidity. There was none of the tart acridity that I have come to associate with rosé wines. It finished with an aftertaste of cherries blended with golden delicious apples. Delightful!

Bin No. 1 Red

I was ready for a “serious” red, so Kandi served their Bin No. 1 Red, a Tempranillo – Malbec blend. It presented an initial aroma of cherry laced with white pepper, but quickly added tobacco and plum “notes” – which is funny that we use the term “note” since there is an aromatic tobacco with plum aromas called “Blue Note”, and the blend reminded me of it. I was a little disappointed, however, when the first sip didn’t agree with my nose – the flavors were subdued and seemed almost “watery” compared to the fragrances it presented so boldly. A swirl of the glass and a second sip opened up some earth tones and light plum, but I knew there had to be more, so I asked for a separate glass that I could set aside for experimentation while we chatted. Sure enough, about 20 minutes later, the blend really opened up and presented the cherry, pepper, and tobacco – another delightful experience.

Like I said, this was the first winery where I thoroughly enjoyed every wine they presented; including a couple of barrel tastings. I’ll let you in on this: It’s going to get even better with time…


Valley Mills Vineyards and Winery, and a TxWineGeek First. — 1 Comment

  1. We visited Valley Mills back in the early spring (around Valentine’s Day) and I totally agree with you. We enjoyed everything we tasted! I’ve “lost” my notes but we too loved one of the Viogniers (one more than the other) and the Tempranillo Rose was amazing! Neither of us care for sweet wines and tend to lean to the bolder dryer reds, so anytime we are out we really try to find whites we like. No offense to the wine makers, they are just few and far between. I want to go back and get some more and taste the next round.
    We got to meet and visit with Dr. Peper before he had a date with his wife for Valentine’s Day. He was so very patient and answered our questions even when we made him “late” for his date! He took us back and gave us a taste of something out of a stainless barrell that was amazing at the time and could only get even more incredible as time passes. I sure wish I had access to my notes, but I don’t guarantee I wrote anything down as they were our last stop on a very long day of tasting. lol
    Excellent review!!!

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