As the battle for the changes in the Nevada winery laws continue to heat up, it’s time to get down to the nitty gritty and ask the hard questions that people seem to be avoiding. They are as follows:

  • Are Nevada wines from Nevada grapes any good?
  • What about the area around Las Vegas? Wine Country? Hahahaha!
  • What are chances of getting a Wine Country in Nevada anyway?

Good questions, and as you can probably guess, I already have answers.

Nevada “Wine”? Really?

For the first question as to whether Nevada wines made from Nevada grapes any good?  Well, it depends.

My experience with Nevada wines, which is admittedly very limited by choice, is that the wine, finally, is quite good. It’s also prize winning, which is a fairly new phenomenon for Nevada wines. For many years, Nevada wines were known for their relentless mediocrity – they seemed to be White Zinfandel wannabes – and there wasn’t much that the serious wine person could glean from them other than a collective meh.

Nevada Ridge Primitivo Web Label
Nevada Ridge Primitivo

Most Nevada wine – at least the southern part of the state – is made from California or other imported grapes.  However, since the Pahrump Valley Winery has been helmed by Gretchen and Bill Loken, the awards have been rolling in.  Many of the recent awards have been won by wines made with Nevada grapes. We’re talking Silver, Gold, and Double Gold. This is an amazing accomplishment. Their high-end Nevada wines are bottled under the Nevada Ridge label.

It’s important to understand that awards are won blind. That means that the judges have no idea where the wines come from; they taste and they evaluate, but they don’t know the wines’ origins.  It is, in a word, a great equalizer. Each judge has an array of glasses in front of him, and other than knowing the varietal, is given little or no information as to the wine’s origins, unless, of course, that’s a part of the judging criteria (i.e., Pinot Noir from Oregon category).  This description of the guidelines is very loose; there are differences in each wine competition, but they are all blind.

The 2011 Nevada Ridge Primitivo is a Double Gold winner.  In addition, it’s a single-vineyard wine from Nevada grapes grown at the School Lane Vineyard in Armagosa.  So take that, you doubters!  At the time that I did the tasting for the video, I thought the 2012 was the award winner.  It’s still early in the wine competition season, the wine is delicious, and I think it’s going to be an award winner as well.

A couple of notes about my experience with this wine – not only is it pretty to look at, but it’s velvety on the palate.  I bought one bottle during my sojourn to the Pahrump wine country, and frankly wish I’d bought more.  I will be revisiting the area shortly (which is a record for me!) and will be doing more tasting of the award winners. Yes, that’s plural.

For those of you who doubt that grapes can be grown in Southern Nevada, you need to take a look at this article about wineries in (gasp!) Arizona. Arizona is rockin’ its wine country, and it has become quite the tourist – who bring their money and lots of it – draw.

Are you listening, Nevada legislators?

What are the Chances?

As far as the chances of the old law being stricken down, well, I wish I could be much more positive.  There have been weird things that happen in every state’s legislature, and there are times when I feel that weird is Nevada’s motto.  If the laws aren’t stricken down, then that means that Nevada will continue to fall behind not only its immediate neighbors, but other regional states as well. In particular, Texas, Colorado, New Mexico, and Idaho are receiving accolades for their wines.  Nevada won’t even be an also-ran. You can’t be an also-ran if you were never in the race to begin with.

It’s time for Nevada to see what’s possible.  If the Nevada Ridge Primitivo is any indication, then we’ve only just begun.  Let’s hope that the legislative process doesn’t strangle what could be a great and growing possibility.

Enjoy the vid.






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