Name: Patricia Peters
Occupation: Owner & Operator of Vegas Valley Winery & Grape Expectations: Nevada School of Winemaking
ONCU Member since: 1981
When Patty Peters first moved to Las Vegas in 1981, she never imagined she'd be part owner of a winery and winemaking school. Her life was on a different trajectory that included a career with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department and a membership with One Nevada Credit Union.
"My husband Charlie was a first level Sommelier. He had over 25 years working in the food and beverage industry," Patty explained, smiling with the memory. "We wanted to open a wine school in Clark County. However, Nevada law made it illegal to ferment wine unless you were a winery. Unfortunately, wineries weren't legal in any Nevada county with a population over 100,000."
After visiting a well-established winemaking school in New Jersey, we started the process of getting the law changed and developing Grape Expectations."
With the help of lawmakers, the Nevada law was changed in 2005 allowing winemaking schools within the state.
Grape Expectations: Nevada School of Winemaking became a reality and moved into a 3,200-square foot facility in Henderson, Nevada. Students came to craft their own barrel of wine over a 9-month experience that included crushing, pressing, racking, and bottling. Students end up with 240 bottles (20 cases) of their own wine to give out as gifts and enjoy in their own home.
Over time and through word-of-mouth, the school outgrew its modest home. On September 1, 2012, they moved to a much larger 11,000 square foot facility.
Eight days later, Charlie died unexpectedly.
Patty found herself working alongside her late husband's friends. Together, they built Grape Expectations into what it is today and later formed Vegas Valley Winery.
"Two years ago, the law changed again," she added. "It allowed wineries in Clark and Washoe Counties. That's when we opened Vegas Valley Winery adjacent toGrape Expectations. It's two separate wine businesses under one roof. And it's been a huge success thanks to some amazing people."
Since retiring in 2016 from the police department, she has devoted her time to the school and winery, putting in long hours over countless days. But Patty wouldn't have it any other way.
"We're all still trying to find a way to take a day off here and there," Patty laughed. "I'm very busy and I'm very happy. Winemaking is such a social thing. I love it. I think that's why I enjoy One Nevada so much. Everyone there is so friendly, reliable, and consistent."
As the winery and school continue to grow, so does its reputation for developing great wines, such as their Syrah, Zinfandel, dry white, Rosé, and Riesling with names like Whimsical, La Rosa, and Subtle Blonde.
Never one to sit idle, Patty and her business partners have harvested and produced five barrels of Nevada grown wines, which are currently sitting in oak barrels waiting to be released sometime in 2020.
"And yes, you can grow grapes in Nevada," Patty said. "This is such a great adventure."