A local winery with ties to the Bullard community is opening its doors and welcoming one and all to celebrate a new season of winemaking.
Kiepersol Winery, located at 3933 FM 344 E. in Tyler, is preparing to welcome hundreds to mark the occasion of a new season of grapes on the vines during the Waking of the Vines at Kiepersol event, scheduled for Saturday, March 10.
“Waking of the Vines is one of our most popular events we have at Kiepersol,” said Sandra Dougherty, Kiepersol’s promotions and brand ambassador. “It has a lot of meaning for us here at the company because it’s a day we’re able to show gratitude, and that’s really what it’s all about. The event is actually a part of a biannual celebration, as we have Waking of the Vines in the spring and Putting the Vines to Sleep after harvest season in the fall around October.”
The event will begin with a serenade through the vineyard strummed by a six-to-seven piece mariachi band from 1-4 p.m., as well as a prayer service for the new winemaking season at 3 p.m.
“At the prayer event, we come together to offer up prayers for this year’s vintage, as well as the safety and protection of those who have a hand in the winemaking process,” said Dougherty.
As for the live and festive mariachi music, Dougherty said the reason behind the musical accompaniment was created by Kipersol founder Pierre De Wet.
“When we decided to do an event like this, we had a lot of options of how to theme the event,” said Dougherty. “However, Pierre had very strong feelings that since the majority of the workers in the vineyard were Hispanic, the vines would actually speak and understand the Spanish language, so the mariachi music would wake up the vines and help them to make some nice great so we can produce some amazing Texas wines.”
The event has been successful for Kiepersol in the past, according to Dougherty, with an estimated 600 people attending the come-and-go affair last year.
Originally from South Africa, de Wet moved to the East Texas area in 1998, settling just outside of Bullard, where he established Kiepersol Estates.
According to Kiepersol’s website, the facility is built on 63 acres of vineyards that produce estate-grown red and white wines that have captured the Old World style alongside Texas pride. Hand planted in 1998 and 1999, the vineyards have been the passion of the de Wet family.
In 2000, de Wet and Kiepersol began selling under the Kiepersol label. Today, the winery produces about 15,000 cases of wine annually.
De Wet’s Kiepersol Estates is now known for more than just their wine, as the company branched out several years ago to form a distillery that produces vodka, bourbon and rum.
In addition to the well-known winery and distillery, Kiepersol Estates also features a bed and breakfast, recording studio and RV park.
Sadly, De Wet, one of the most well-known and influential business owners in the Tyler and Bullard areas, died in January 2016 at the age of 61 years old.
Even after his death, De Wet’s beloved Kiepersol remains a family business, with his daughters, Marnelle Durrett and Velmay Power, now running the business. Durrett serves as the business’s proprietor and winemaker, while Power uses her knowledge and background in the banking industry to run the company’s finances and systems analysis.
Dougherty encourages all within the Tyler and Bullard communities to come out to the event and experience a day in the life of Kiepersol.
“Although we have a Tyler address, we have a huge connection with the Bullard community because it truly is our local community,” said Dougherty. “It’s great to give the public an event such as this where they can come out and see what Kiepersol is about. I’m always surprised to see and hear how many local people aren’t aware of the treasure we have here in our own backyard. We are the local wine farm for the Bullard community and we are farmers first.”
At the event will be Which Wich Superior Sandwiches , a new restaurant to the Tyler area, with food available for purchase. Kiepersol will also have beverages available for purchase, including sangria and wine-ritas. No outside food or beverage will be allowed at the event.
The Kiepersol restaurant also still has openings for lunch and dinner reservations for the day of the event.
Due to the size of the expected attendance to the event, Kiepersol will not be hosting tours of the facility.
Attendees to the Waking of the Vines at Kiepersol event are encouraged to bring their lawn chairs. Friendly dogs may accompany their owners to the event, provided that they are leashed. The event will go on even if rainy weather is in the forecast, according to Dougherty.
“We hope to have a big crowd and to see everyone at the Waking of the Vines,” said Dougherty. “It will be a fantastic celebration of what Kiepersol has been, is, and will be as the future approaches.”
Also at the event will be acoustic music played by Grant Cook from 5-8 p.m. The winery will be open from 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. Saturday.
In 2016, Kiepersol Winery received an award saddle for being named the Top Texas Winery in the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo’s International Wine Competition, one of the largest wine contests in the world with over 2,800 entries from 20 different countries.
Kiepersol also entered a total of six different wines into the HLSR International Wine Competition, with each wine entry receiving a medal.
Wine entries for Kiepersol at the HLSR wine contest included the 2010 Barrel No. 33, receiving Double Gold - Class Champion and Texas Class Champion; 2011 Mengsel, receiving Gold and Texas Class Champion; 2013 Syrah, receiving Gold and Texas Class Champion; 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon, receiving Silver and Texas Class Champion; 2012 Artize, receiving silver and Texas Class Champion; and 2012 Merlot, receiving Silver and Texas Class Champion.
For more information about the Waking of the Vines at Kiepersol, contact Dougherty at (903) 894-8995 or visit www.kiepersol.com.