Old Vegas, the Trop, UnWine, and Me

I love old Las Vegas, which is more meaningful now since most of it is gone, imploded in the heady days of the late 80s, 90s, and early in this decade.  We’ve seen the likes of the Aladdin, the Stardust, the Sands, and the Hacienda disappear into Vegas’ past.  We’ve seen the beautiful Desert Inn yield to the twin bronze glass monoliths of the Wynn and Encore.  In the rush to constantly reinvent itself, it seems as if Vegas lost a little of its soul.

And then there’s the Tropicana.  When I first went into the Tropicana some 25 (!!!!!) years ago, it was a dark and smoky place with the usual casino carpeting, table games, and omnipresent slots.  But what really got my attention were the guys in suits – the pit bosses – unobtrusively supervising behind the tables. Each one looked as if he could have been an extra in The Godfather.  It was great.  Vegas’ storied history at its finest.  Today, the pit boss is just as likely to be a small woman in heels as he is a burly guy in a suit, and the table games area is now bright and airy.  It’s not until you walk back into the old section of the hotel that you really feel that you’ve gone back in time to the glory days.  Let me explain.

Old Vegas has a certain smell – a fragrance, I’d daresay – that is totally lacking in the new casinos.  Some of the newer casinos have an aromatherapy vibe going on, but in the back halls of the Tropicana, there’s only old Vegas.  It’s a little musty and smells of dust, poker, and Rat Pack.  I was taken aback as I wandered through the halls looking for the event, and I actually stopped to inhale, remember, and smile.  Hey! I don’t live here just because I was able to get a decent job.  I live here because I really love it.  The Trop reminded me why.

I had learned about the wine event through Vegas4Locals, a company that keeps us locals up to date on events going on in town.  I’m always looking for wine stuff, so this was a treat.  At $25, the price was more than reasonable, especially for a Strip property.  As soon as I strolled into the pool area, I knew I’d done the right thing.  The venue was gorgeous.

This was my first visit to the “back yard” of the Trop, and I was struck by its beauty.  Yes, beauty.  The old houses have years of mature vegetation, and combined with the fragrant, flowering petunias and carefully groomed grounds, it presented a lovely venue for the event.  A band enthusiastically regaled with island music. There were a few tables for the wine pourers and the area itself was smallish, but there was almost nothing lacking.  If you get a chance to check out my slideshow on YouTube, you’ll see a little of the landscape there.  I actually threw away a bunch of pictures because of the space limit!

And now the wines!

The wines ranged from the sublime to the only slightly less sublime.  Southern Wine & Spirits, one of the sponsors, furnished a few “regular” wines which included Meridian Chardonnay, and Beringer Sauvingnon Blanc, and a couple of OMG wines, which included Penfold’s St. Henri Shiraz and Stag’s Leap Merlot.  A few of the others inluded Chateau St. Jean Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, Cellar 8 Zinfandel, two Beringer sparkling wines, Campanile Pinot Grigio, Greg Norman Estates Petit Sirah (2006 and 2007), Lindeman’s Bin 90 Moscato, Gabbiano DOCG Chianti, Colores del Sol Malbec, and many more.  A wine-luscious time was had by all!

Along with enjoying old Vegas, I was able to talk to a few people and most were in awe at the beautiful grounds.  They had no idea that this type of scenery existed in Vegas.  Oh how little they know!

If I had any suggestions for improvement, there would have been just three.  One, a few more wines. That suggestion goes hand in hand with the next suggestion; since the pool closed shortly after the event started, a few more tables near the pool would have taken advantage of still more of the ethereal landscape.  And finally, a little more variety in the noshes.  There were bread, cheese, and crackers, and many were feeling that some sort of vegetable appetizer and/or salami would have been the perfect addition.  There was water freely available - a nice consideration.

Will I go again next year? You bet! I almost didn’t go this time because I thought it’d be a zoo (think UNLVino), but I was more than pleasantly surprised.  A beautiful summer evening sipping wine in the secret area of one of Vegas’s storied casinos.  It doesn’t get much better than that.

Tropicana Las Vegas
3801 Las Vegas Boulevard S.
Las Vegas, NV 89109
(888) 826-8767

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