A Few Notes from Nevada’s 2018 Harvest

Joe Bernardo, Ingrid Benson, Ann York, and Ed York (in the distance, upper right), work the harvest at Bill Coplin’s Casa Castana Vineyard in Washoe Valley on September 16, 2018. Photo: @GrapeBasinNews

Twin Mustang has abundant (award-winning) fruit

Jason Schultz checked in with more than 1,300 pounds from the Twin Mustang Vineyard. That was prior to last week’s Petit Pearl harvest. Schultz says Twin Mustang will repeat successful wines from 2017, and a bountiful harvest will allow him to produce greater quantities. Here’s how it looks:

406 lbs Marquette at 26.5 brix
406 lbs 5 year old Frontenac at 26 brix
200 lbs 11 year old Frontenac at 24.5 brix
197 lbs Edelwiess aT 21 brix
256 lbs Frontenac Gris at 26 brix
Petit Pearl (yield not reported)

“We are always experimenting with different yeasts, MLF, and nutrients,” Schultz told GBN. “We are ready to bottle our reds from last year as well as 180 gallons of California Syrah and Barbera.”

Schultz has made an impressive showing in California competitions, and will compete again this year.

Vegas Valley Winery to debut 100 percent Nevada wines

Vegas Valley’s Mike Schoenbaechler reports his team pulled about 4,000 pounds of grapes from vineyards in Amargosa Valley. They’ll go into the winery’s second vintage Syrah, Barbera, and Primativo, which will also be the winery’s first 100 percent Nevada wines.

Schoenbaechler emphasizes they’ll be small batches — between 20 and 40 cases. Many would call that a respectable achievement for a winery that’s been up and running less than a year.

Vegas Valley Winery management is the same team running the Grape Expectations School of Winemaking. The commercial operation is a separate entity next door to the school in the so-called “booze district” of Henderson, Nevada.

Basin and Range Cellars pulls in 15 tons, (roughly)

So says Basin and Range partner Joe Bernardo, a man of few words. Bernardo and partner Wade Johnston commenced tasting room operation this summer at Reno’s Wineries on 4th. Their wines consist of 100 percent Nevada fruit, grown in Douglas County.

Bernardo was also on the harvest team at Casa Castana, the Washoe Valley Vineyard owned by former Nevada Vines & Wines president Bill Coplin. Part of the Casa Castana harvest goes to the students at the Wine Academy run by Bernardo.

Students at northern Nevada’s Wine Academy crush fruit from Bill Coplin’s Casa Castana on September 16, 2018. Photo: @GrapeBasinNews

“Harvest is Fun and Romantic for About 10 Minutes. Then the Work Starts.”

With big variations in its northern and southern climates, Nevada’s harvest season can stretch over more than two months. Tim Burke toiled at both ends of the state in 2018, gathering grapes from eight different vineyards in far-flung locations. Barbera in Amargosa Valley, Gerverstemener in Fallon, and a scrambled assortment of fruit from here and there.

It’s been “very crazy,” Burke told GBN.

Burke, who expects to break ground on his Artesian Cellars winery some time in 2019, is scooping up Nevada grapes. With an eye toward large-scale commercial production, he made a deals to harvest for a few small vineyard owners who wanted help. Story continues below…

Southern Nevada winemakers working together in August of 2018, L-R: Tim Burke (Artesian Cellars); Mike Schoenbaechler and Patty Peters (Vegas Valley Winery); Gretchen and Bill Loken (Pahrump Valley Winery). Photo courtesy of Tim Burke.

Yields from the small growers have been a few hundred pounds from each vineyard. “It all adds up eventually,” he said. “It’s like putting money in the bank. We’re stockpiling gallons of wine right now for our 25 percent,” he told GBN.

Burke believes some of these owners didn’t realize the demands of vineyard management when they planted. To boost the Nevada-grown quotient for Artesian Cellars, he’s been happy to step in and relieve them of the burden. “Harvesting is fun and romantic for about 10 minutes. Then it becomes a lot of work.”

Last weekend started on Thursday when Burke took the wheel of a one-ton crew cab with a flatbed trailer, rolling from Pahrump six hours north to Fallon.  At 4 a.m. Friday, he was up and ready to work in the vineyard owned by his sister, Kelly Service. By 6 o’clock he was onsite with hired harvest help. At 4 p.m. the bins were full, the trailer was loaded, and he was back on the road to Pahrump, arrival time 10:30.

Saturday morning the grapes were moved to Bill Loken’s Pahrump Valley Winery, where they spent 24 hours cooling. They were back on the truck Sunday morning, headed for Burke’s winemaking facility. Crushing and pressing commenced at 9 a.m., and Burke called it a day at 8 o’clock Sunday night.

The Fallon marathon produced primarily Gerverstemener and several red varieties. Based on the quality of the fruit – “outstanding,” he says – brother and sister are planning to expand the vineyard.

A few weeks earlier, Burke had picked grapes in Amargosa Valley alongside winemakers from Vegas Valley Winery and the Pahump Valley Winery. After a demanding harvest season, Burke credits southern Nevada team spirit for his upbeat attitude. Everyone works together down here, he says of the other wineries in the region.

Burke is in negotiation with Nye County, which owns the plot on highway 160 where he plans to build Artesian Cellars Winery. He hopes to plant vines at the site next spring.

Newly Launched Reno Wine Distributor Turns in Energetic Performance

Just months after launching a distributorship intended to boost small wine producers, Chuck Harter’s Reno Wine Distributors has scored new retail exposure for Nevada Sunset and at least one California mountain winery.

Nevada Sunset and Boyle MacDonald Wines will be featured at We Olive & Wine Bar next to the Nordstrom Rack, and at the Grille in the Somersett Golf & Country Club.

Raley’s wine shop at Galena Junction is featuring Nevada Sunset and Boyle MacDonald Wines, both represented by Reno Wine Distributors

Impressively, the labels are also in the spotlight this week at Raley’s Galena Junction store on Wedge Parkway, one of three Raley’s “wine shop” locations in Reno. The store will host separate tasting events next weekend for Nevada Sunset and Boyle MacDonald, said Raley’s Wine Steward Doc Watson, who has stocked four varietals from each winery. (See “Tasting Events,” below.)

Harter hints that Reno Wine Distributors has several other agreements pending. Additional venues include Skyline Kitchen & Vine and the 4th Street Bistro according to Craig MacDonald of Boyle MacDonald, who told GBN these are the label’s first exposures in the Reno market.

Meanwhile, retail wine managers are are upbeat about the new products.

“We’re really excited to be working with Nevada Sunset,” said Alysia Peters, who has never before stocked a Nevada wine at We Olive & Wine Bar. “With regard to quality, I think it’s really changing in Nevada.”

Peters said she was also impressed with the Boyle MacDonald Sierra Foothills wines. “I brought in two of their wines because I think they’re exceptional,” Peters told GBN.

Boyle MacDonald’s Petite Syrah and its Cock Au Vin Rose are in the wine bar now. Later this month, Peters will host a wine pairing event featuring Nevada Sunset. Story continues below…

Boyle MacDonald’s Reds on display at Raley’s on Wedge Parkway in Reno. Raley’s wine shops offer a single bottle price, and a discount for the purchase of six bottles. Photo:@GrapeBasinNews

At The Grille at Somersett, food and beverage manager Brendan Carlson says he will add Nevada Sunset Sauvignon Blanc to the menu within a week.

Nevada Sunset and Boyle MacDonald Wines have new distribution at The Grille at Somersett Golf and Country Club. Both brands are represented by Reno Wine Distributors. Photos: @GrapeBasinNews

“I just figured having a local wine would be intriguing,” said Carlson, who acknowledged that it’s a challenge to make the Somersett crowd sit up and take notice.

“We do have a tough clientele when it comes to wine,” he said. “These members know what they like.” Carlson is also adding Boyle MacDonald’s Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, and its Cock Au Vin Rose.

Nevada Sunset was the first of three Nevada wineries to occupy Wineries on 4th in Reno. The winery is locally owned and operated by Mike Steedman and Alynn Delisle. Boyle MacDonald Winery is near the Sierra Nevada foothill town of Murphys. Winemaker Kate Boyle and her husband, Craig MacDonald, are the principals.


We Olive & Wine Bar is located next to the Nordstrom Rack on S. Virginia Street in Reno. Photo: @GrapeBasinNews

Tasting Events:
Boyle MacDonald on Friday, September 7
Raley’s Galena Junction (Wedge Parkway), 3-6 p.m.

Nevada Sunset on Sunday, September 9
Raley’s Galena Junction (Wedge Parkway), 1- 5 p.m.

Nevada Sunset Pairings on Thursday, September 27
We Olive and Wine Bar, 5:30-7;30 p.m.
Tickets $35; Four wines, four bites