New Vineyard Takes Shape High Above Reno

A vineyard in its earliest stage, like a caterpillar, offers no hint that it will transform into something beautiful. It’s just a lot of lumpy, rocky furrows, crawling like fat, brown worms across the earth. This vineyard is the length of a football field, crosscut by a wide dirt lane, which in two years will be a driveway, leading to a home with a stunning view of everything from Sparks to the Geiger Grade. Story continues below…

Dan Shore’s Reno vineyard looking north and east in June, 2018. Photo: @GrapeBasinNews

The vineyard-in-progress and surrounding property belong to Dan Shore, principal at Shore Management and Development, whose recent foray into winemaking inspired the project — a home perched above the city, with hundreds of vines, a cellar, and space for winemaking. The house is on the drawing board, to be complete some time in 2020. The property sits just south of Windy Hill in the private community called Anitra, directly beneath the glass-front gaze of the home belonging to gaming executive John Farahi.

Shore plans to sell some of his grapes, and use some for non-commercial winemaking. He is thus far underwhelmed by the economics of Nevada viticulture, but contemplates adding more vineyards in the future. There’s also an olive grove in the plan, for olive oil and other specialty products. Processing olives is more a hobby than a business, he told GBN. Story continues below…

Vineyard in progress sits directly beneath the home of gaming executive John Farahi. Photo:@GrapeBasinnews

Veteran viticulturist Joe Bernardo and crew worked nonstop on the vineyard through the month of June. First the digging, which unearthed a massive load of boulders and more than once taxed his faithful 35-year-old tractor to the point of a breakdown. Next, water lines were laid. A specialty compost was delivered, and at last, the planting – 850 vines, five reds and two whites, which two years from now will flank the driveway of the hillside home. Story continues below…

Three-man crew: Cory Rizzolo, Dennis McDonald, and Joe Bernardo, at work on the Shore vineyard in June of 2018. Photo: @GrapeBasinNews

Shore met Bernardo through Nevada Vines & Wines. Bernardo had logged 20 years planting and tending vines at the University of Nevada’s Valley Road vineyard and at the Nevada Agricultural Experiment Station. More recently, he’s produced the 12-ton crop at the heart of a new commercial venture, Basin and Range Cellars. A separate vineyard at his home serves as the base for a wine academy sponsored by Nevada Vines & Wines. Story Continues below…

Joe Bernardo fills the trench where a water line was laid in June of 2018. Photo: @GrapeBasinNews

Notwithstanding such substantial expertise, Bernardo says he underestimated the challenge this project would present. The assignment includes a mandate to maintain the contour of the hill, and the soil is among the rockiest Northern Nevada has to offer. The project expanded to fill the month.

At the end of June, the naked vines are mostly planted, hidden beneath paper sleeves. By August, Bernardo says, the leaves will peak over the tops of the sleeves. Aesthetically, the vines will take shape well ahead of the house, and they may bear usable fruit by 2021. 

CORRECTION: This story has been edited. GBN originally reported that Dan Shore was referred to Joe Bernardo by the University of Nevada.

Sleeved vines as the Shore vineyard project progresses in June of 2018. Photo:@GrapeBasinNews

 

Shore vineyard in progress in June of 2018; Preserving the slope was part of the mandate. Photo:@GrapeBasinNews

 

Basin and Range Launch Marks the Second of Three Wineries on 4th

This story was updated after publication to reflect final attendance estimates. — GBN

The vintners at Basin and Range Cellars have officially popped the cork. The label’s grand opening on Saturday launched the second of three wineries approved to operate at Reno’s Wineries on 4th. Basin and Range partner Wade Johnston estimated 400 people had stopped by, although nobody associated with the event had counted. Story continues below…

Cory Rizzolo pours at the Basin and Range Cellars grand opening on June 16, 2018. Photo: @GrapeBasinNews

Response to the wine was overwhelmingly positive, Johnston told GBN while he poured for visitors at the crowded bar.

“I’m happy to hear the feedback, and hear that people like it,” Johnston said.

“A long time coming,” added partner Joe Bernardo, a veteran northern Nevada grower and winemaker (and man of few words).

People who liked the wine were also purchasing. Sales seemed brisk, and Johnston seemed pleased, but said there was no formal sales goal for the day. The debut featured two whites, two reds, and a rose, priced from $6 – $10 by the glass, and $15- $22 per bottle. All the wines were produced from 100 percent Nevada fruit grown in Minden by Basin and Range. Story continues below…

Basin and Range partner Wade Johnston with visitors to the Wineries on 4th, June 16, 2018. Photo: @GrapeBasinNews

The simultaneous unveiling of vintage 2016 and 2017 hints at some bumps in the road, including a setback that forced the partners to freeze their 2016 harvest while the principals at 4th Street persuaded the state of Nevada to bless a business structure allowing three wineries to coexist in the same space.

Sharing space and equipment – an arrangement called an alternating proprietorship – is recognized by federal authorities and legal for wineries in some states, but was prohibited in Nevada right up until the final weeks of the 2017 legislative session. A white knuckle ride to legalize it before the session ended sparked angst in the local wine community, where many viewed the 4th Street project as a milestone in their long campaign for legitimacy.

The fate of all three wineries hung in the balance until a last-minute legislative victory just days before the final gavel in Carson City. The grand opening of the property several months later with Nevada Sunset Winery operating solo was a triumph for Nevada wine, and a demonstration that small business seeking sensible regulation can prevail. Basin and Range now joins Nevada Sunset at 415 E. 4th Street. Next month, Great Basin Winery will debut in the same location.

Basin and Range partner Joe Bernardo with newly unveiled product at Wineries on 4th, June 18, 2018. [email protected]

Health Insurance Professionals Ponder the Health Benefits of Wine

Vino 100 opened its doors last week to a gathering of health insurance executives. The Nevada Association of Health Underwriters chose the wine shop setting to swear in new officers, as proprietor Karen Hyatt-Miner guided a tasting designed to highlight the health benefits of wine.

Grace Daidone welcomes members of the Nevada Health Underwriters Association at Vino 100 on June 13, 2018. Phtoto:@GrapeBasinNews

The association (NVAHU) has 215 health insurance and employee benefits professionals as members, according to its website. Nevada Vines & Wines board member Stuart Michell, also a long-time member of NVAHU, once launched a campaign to bolster its membership and energize the organization during a sluggish period in its history.

Michell is CEO and founder of Akunaware, a technology company offering tools to analyze employee benefit investments.

Vino 100 is frequent host to themed tasting events, including game nights and Easel and Wine painting sessions. Owner Karen Hyatt-Miner discusses wine every Saturday on the Weekend Magazine show on KOH radio (780 AM) in Reno.

Stuart Michell and friends at a meeting of the Nevada Association of Health Underwriters. Photo:@grapeBasinNews