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Pahrump Winery Las Vegas

Wine Tasting in the Desert? Pahrump Winery Makes its Mark in Nevada

By Alexa Chipman May 1, 2017

Towering red cliffs and wide desert filled with Joshua trees surrounds Las Vegas, meandering through dusty roads to the town of Pahrump. An eclectic mix of independent survivors in rustic trailers and exquisite homes, it is not where you would expect to find a renowned winery. In a landscape of brush and rabbits, it was the first Nevada winery, but was neglected until 2003 when entrepreneurs Bill and Gretchen Loken stumbled across the opportunity to renovate and expand the business. It did not take long for them to fall in love with the art of winemaking, and their enthusiasm for Nevada wine has propelled them toward a goal of using local grapes. In the last few years, they have been busy planting vineyards around the state, and while California grapes heavily supplement their current wine, they are determined to turn that around and have at least 75% Nevada grapes in the next few years. They currently offer seven entirely Nevada grown wines and bottle about 9,000 cases per year.

Pahrump Winery Las Vegas

Growing grapes in the desert can be a challenge—they need plenty of irrigation from Pahrump’s aquifer, less pruning to allow the shoots to offer extra shade, and some such as chardonnay simply will not grow. When visiting, the middle of March and April will show the vineyards green with bright flower gardens to relax in before the summer heat radiates the area. Stop by the first weekend in October for the Grape Stomp with live music, competition, an art festival, and food. Speaking of fine dining, Symphony’s is an award-winning restaurant on site with mouth-watering dishes that are reasonably priced—a local favorite being the flame grilled salmon. It has limited hours of 11:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. for lunch and 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. for dinner, and is well worth it.

This boutique winery feels and tastes like any in Napa Valley, without the high price tag. Instead of a tasting fee, you can try up to seven different wines for free! They do not offer palette cleansers, but you should carry bottled water with you regardless, due to the desert area. Their gift shop is primarily clothing and has beautiful wine jewelry—their bottles are scattered throughout, so you may need to ask for assistance finding the one you want.

Pahrump Winery Las Vegas

Tasting is a casual experience, and I was surprised by the high quality of their dessert wines. There is enough variety on the list for multiple tastings, so it could be an experience of several days or a quick trip out to the country to break up your packed Las Vegas vacation.

Pinot Grigio (California 2015)
Its light floral tones compliment the pungent orange blossom aroma. It is well balanced with a citrus edge to it without being too tart; I was impressed by it’s structure.

Desert Blush (Pahrump, American blend)
Washed in a gentle peach scent, it is sweet without being overpowering—like drinking apple pie.

Symphony (Pahrump, California blend 2015)
Their best selling wine, for which the restaurant was named, they are working on using more Nevada vines for it, and recently planted an additional vineyard. It has too strong of a honey flavor for my taste, with overtones of honeysuckle and a floral aroma; it might be their most popular wine, but I did not find it appealing.

Tempranillo (Nevada 2014)
A strong bodied wine with traces of fine cigar smoke, it avoids a berry taste for straight wood infused flavor and is an effective wine.

Mourvedre (Nevada 2014)
It comes across as generic pinot noir without significant flavor, rather tannic, but the aroma is lovely with a strawberry hint to it. It is the first Nevada Mourvedre to be released.

Silver State Red (Nevada 2014)
A blend of nine different grapes, such as cabernet, merlot, and syrah, it is so smooth that there is no need to pair food with it. This is a perfect red wine, with cedar aroma, lack of acidity, and luscious taste.

Crème Sherry
I went straight to the shop to purchase this—I am not fond of crème sherry, and this proved me wrong. Its warm caramel flavor flows over the palette and is spectacular when poured over vanilla ice cream. If you visit Pahrump Winery, be sure to include this in your wine flight.

Next time you are on a business trip or girls’ night out in Las Vegas, an excursion through the desert to Pahrump’s vineyard oasis should be on your itinerary.

Daily 10:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Location: 3810 Winery Road, Pahrump NV

Sonoma County’s Secret—Imagery Estate Winery

By Alexa Chipman Apr. 9, 2017

Imagery Estate Winery Tasting Room

If you are tired of seeing Pinot Noir and Chardonnay as wine tasting options, and are looking for more original varietals like Tempranillo, Malbec or Viognier right here in Sonoma County, Imagery Estate is the place to be. The atmosphere is casual and fun, with couples laughing over games in the large and beautiful picnic area surrounded by vineyards and an orchard, and lively hosts ready to converse during a wine tasting flight. It is family friendly—there were well behaved children enjoying the sunny lawn areas while I was there, and a festive feel to the grounds.

Members of their wine club have access to a sleek modern patio area and private tasting room, which was crowded with Imagery Estate enthusiasts eager to try the latest offerings. They do not advertise or sell outside of the winery—you can only purchase their wine on site or as part of their wine club shipments.

Imagery Estate Winery

I enjoyed the $15 wine tasting, there is also a seated tasting available at certain times during the day, with reservation.

Moscato 2016
This delightful white wine was impressive enough for me to purchase a bottle, which I was privileged to have signed by the label artist, who was present that weekend—Colin Talcroft, a local monoprint collage artist from Santa Rosa. The aroma is light of fresh cut grass followed by a sharp citrus taste with floral finish that lingers on the palette. It flows well, without the sweet syrupy taste that some Moscatos suffer from.

Aleatico Rosé 2016
Based on the Italian grape, it has a subtle strawberry aroma. The flavor is pleasantly soft and dry, slightly bitter, and quite bland for a rosé. It is a quiet wine, and would be lovely with lighter food or fish courses.

Viognier 2016
From their Russian River vineyard off Occidental Road, it has an intense blood orange aroma, luscious cheddar flavor and after notes of hibiscus for a pleasant finish.

Tempranillo Upper Ridge 2014
This is a wine of the deep redwoods, filled with a woody aroma, satisfying wash of bark and berries in the flavor, and bite of ashes and campfire smoke. It is a rich, powerful red wine that I would recommend on its own.

Imagery Estate is a must visit winery for anyone wine tasting in Sonoma County. They are welcoming, have picnic grounds for lunch and a bottle of wine, and offer some of the most unique wines in this area.

Why visit Imagery Estate Winery?

  • Incredible wines that you will want to buy a case of
  • Unique varietals available
  • Fun atmosphere and picnic area

Hours: Monday – Friday 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Saturday – Sunday 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Location: 14335 Highway 12, Glen Ellen

Hidden Gem of Sparkling Mead – Heidrun Meadery

By Alexa Chipman Mar. 22, 2017

Using the methode champenoise with mead is extremely rare, so when I found that Heidrun was a quick jaunt toward the coast, it was an exciting surprise. I did not know what to expect, since mead is usually a sweet syrup texture, and I discovered that changing it into sparkling infuses a dryness with intense flavor.

Heidrun Meadery is twenty years old, and has recently concentrated on their Point Reyes Station farm and honey cultivation after relocating to West Marin. Honey is heavily influenced by surrounding flora, so keeping a local hive is essential, although they also bring honey in from other locations, such as Oregon and Hawaii. Their picnic area is limited, on a first-come, first-served basis, and offers views of quaint farm buildings and distant meadows stretching toward Point Reyes Station.

Heidrun Meadery Tasting Flight

I tried their $15 tasting flight in the greenhouse, which is an airy room filled with plants and warm filtered sunlight. They were quite busy, so the mead was presented without comment or background, and I had to hunt down where to find palette cleansing water glasses, but reservations are available for an in depth tour of the facility that goes into detail about the remarkable process used at Heidrun.

Hawaiian Macadamia Nut
This was my choice from the flight to purchase; it has a dainty crispness to it with almond after note; the flavor is reminiscent of an older oaked chardonnay.

Oregon Meadowfoam Blossom
The bubbles create a slosh of honey that lingers—flowery at first, gradating into a softer sweet finish.

Oregon Radish Blossom
Very pale with a green tinge and definite radish aroma, it has a sharp quality and slightly bitter aftertaste. This mead would be a powerful choice for toasting a special occasion, but not one I would set the table with for dinner.

Madras Carrot Blossom
I was not fond of the overwhelming tangy flavor. The color is a lovely sunset orange that would look amazing in a trumpet flute, but I am not sure I would want to revisit the taste.

California Orange Blossom
This delightfully floral mead has a gentle nudge of honey under a carpet of blossoms drifting across the palette. If you love floral flavors in wine, this is a must try. I think it would be the perfect choice paired with a white cake decorated in edible flowers for a wedding or birthday.

Heidrun Meadery gift shop of honey and candles

I highly recommend Heidrun Meadery’s refreshingly unique approach to an ancient libation. It does not have the dense saccharine quality of regular mead, so if you are hesitant to try a tasting, know that the sparkling version shakes off those negative qualities for a refreshing frothy taste that melts in your mouth.

Why visit Heidrun Meadery?

  • Unique, challenging flavors
  • Unlike any other tasting flight in the area
  • Outside food is allowed—bring your own picnic
  • Beaches within a ten minute drive away

Heidrun Meadery
Hours: Weekdays from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (Closed Tuesday)
Weekends from 11:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Location: 11925 CA-1, Point Reyes Station