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Half of Nevada’s Wineries Are in Pahrump

The 2012 International Food, Wine and Travel Writers’ Association did not have any organized familiarization trips planned prior to or after the conference. We decided to travel to Las Vegas, site of the conference, a few days early and blaze our own trails. I recall the first thing my Intermediate WSET instructor said about wine. “Wine is a product of three entities: the vineyard, the winemaker and the government.” The first two made a lot of sense. The third, government, took some getting use to.

Sanders Family Winery, Pahrump, Nevada

Nevada has four wineries with two located in Pahrump. Government certainly influences where wineries can build in this state. The law only allows wineries in counties with a population less than 100,000 people. That leaves out the Las Vegas area (Clark County) and Reno area (Washoe County). Pahrump is located in Nye County not far from the Clark county border. Jack Sanders of Sanders Family Winery in Pahrump explained that growers can have vineyards in any Nevada county; wineries are limited though. One may conclude that wineries built in Nevada would need to be somewhat close to Las Vegas or Reno for enough travelers to visit the wineries.

Pahrump is just over an hour’s drive from Las Vegas making the two wineries, Sanders Family Winery and Pahrump Valley Winery an easy drive from Las Vegas. If you think the wineries are out in the middle of nowhere, think about their annual visitors. Sanders Family Winery is the second winery started by Jack Sanders. Although the winery has been in operation for a few years, the tasting room opened in June of 2011. The winery has had 30,000 visitors since it opened. Six miles away, Pahrump Valley Winery has been open for several years and has 100,000 visitors. Wine enthusiasts evidently know where Pahrump is located.

Pahrump Valley Winery, Pahrump, Nevada

We met Jack Sanders at his winery. Jack has a passion for winemaking and grape growing. He has Petite Sirah and Zinfandel surrounding the winery and tasting room. Jack started Pahrump Valley Winery and sold it several years ago. He is now settled in to his new winery. Sanders Family Winery has one of the few places in Pahrump where there is space for meetings and events. The winery hosts numerous events.

We spent some time with Gretchen Loken, winemaker and co-owner at Pahrump Valley Winery. A steady flow of visitors came through the tasting room during our visit and Gretchen spoke of the changes since our last visit in 2009. The winery has expanded the labels and the portfolio of wine it produces. Attached to the tasting room is Symphony’s Restaurant where gourmet lunches and dinners await visitors. We couldn’t resist a late mid-afternoon lunch. I ordered coconut shrimp appetizer and the blackened Mahi-mahi for an entree. The food was delicious.

For wine enthusiasts and wine travelers visiting Las Vegas, take the time to drive to Pahrump and visit the two wineries. The drive is pleasant and the wineries are great to visit.


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