photo by Erin Cooper

Although Nevada law states that it is illegal to operate a winery in a county with a population of over 100,000 people, the late Charlie Peters, founder of Grape Expectations, was successful in submitting a passing bill to the Nevada Legislature in 2005 to amend the law allowing winemaking schools within the state. Students began making wine during the fall harvest of 2007, and have been enjoying the process ever since. This fall’s harvest marks the school’s ten-year anniversary.

The current facility is 11,000 square feet, and is home to a growing winemaker fraternity of four thousand plus people from a wide variety of social and economic backgrounds. The winemaking process begins in either fall or spring with an array of grape varietal options, currently all red, to choose from. The fall harvest is sourced from California’s North Coast AVA, and the spring harvest comes from the Curico Valley in Chile. Grape Expectations’ website states that they require “hand-picked premium grapes, packed in 36-pound crates in the vineyard, immediately chilled, and prepared for shipment to our refrigerated storage facilities in Las Vegas.” 

Alongside a small team of trusted advisors, students experience the winemaking process from start to finish, and end with a 53-gallon barrel of their own blend, or single varietal, which fills 240 bottles or 20 cases with wine. The wine produced is typically ready for consumption within six to twelve months after bottling, and because it is a “table wine” as opposed to a reserve wine, it is recommended that it be enjoyed within three years. 

Jennifer Demuth, CEO of Eventure, met Charlie and Patty Peters in 2007, and “fell in love with their passion and determination to fulfill their dream.” Demuth began winemaking at the school almost ten years ago, and has continued to enjoy crafting her own personal barrel annually with friends and family or with her company for unique corporate gifts. It was because of Demuth’s positive experience at Grape Expectations that led her company, Eventure, to begin booking private and public tours starting in the center of what is now known as the “Booze District.”

The Booze District is comprised of four spirited businesses including CraftHaus Brewery, Bad Beat Brewing, Grape Expectations and the Las Vegas Distillery. Demuth said, “These tours are popular amongst locals and out-of-town guests for corporate and social events, and we look forward to being part of the Grape Expectations family for many years to come.” 

Ready to get your hands dirty? The deadline for the spring harvest is the end of March and the deadline for the fall harvest is the end of August. Pricing varies each season, so it is best to contact Grape Expectations directly at umakeadawine@aol.com for a quote. Visitors are also welcome to tour the facility year-round. (Tours Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Saturday, noon-4 p.m.; Sunday by appointment)