Drinking on a trip to Las Vegas isn’t exactly at innovate travel idea. But I think we can all agree what typically comes to mind is more vodka-shots-straight-from-the-bottle-at-Wet-Republic than civilized-sipping-at-a-winery. Am I right or am I right? And yet, to my surprise, the state of Nevada is home to four fine wineries.
The first winery to settle in the Silver State was Pahrump Valley Winery, just under an hour outside Las Vegas. The barren desert might not seem like your first choice for setting up an agriculture-based business, but they do have originality on their side.
While I’m far from a wine aficionado, I was thrilled to spend an afternoon wining and dining in Pahrump Valley. Having previously visited wineries in the rural backroads of Cambodia and at the base of a volcano in Hawaii I do have an appreciation for vino off the grid.
We started out with a lovely meal in the onsite Symphony’s restaurant, which turned out to be one of the best of the trip. I personally used the fact that it’s never a good idea to drink on an empty stomach as a carte blanche pass to eat a three course lunch, because, logic.
Then it was on to our tasting. I was thrilled to find plenty of sweet wines with plenty of fruity influences. And yup, that’s about as technical as this wine post is going to get. There’s a reason this isn’t a sommelier blog and it starts with two and ends with buck chuck.
After our tasting, with a final glass in hand, we were taken to see where the magic happens. My eyes widened at the prices our guide quoted for some of the fancy machinery on display. Especially when you consider that Pahrump Valley is a boutique winery, producing just 10,000 cases per year, they manage to keep their prices reasonable despite very high expenses. They also do quite well for themselves on the awards circuit, as shown by their impressive medal display room.
Yet my favorite part of the day was simply wandering the tranquil vineyard. Who knew this kind of lush tranquility existed an hour off the Strip? Though the peace turns to pandemonium once a year for what sounds like a new addition to my bucket list — a Lucy and Ethel themed grape stomp each October.
Free thirty minute tours of the winery are offered three times a day and would make quite the original day trip out of Las Vegas, especially in combination with a tour of Pahrump’s other main attraction — Sheri’s Ranch Brothel. And while both do serve food, I personally found the setting at the winery a bit more appetizing.
Would you do a winery tour out of Las Vegas?
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Many thanks to Travel Nevada for hosting me and showing me a new side of Nevada. As always, you receive my honest opinions regardless of who is footing the bill.
I’d pass. I’m too much of a wine snob. Given the desert (or is it dessert?) terrior, I can’t imagine the wines being decent. Although, I’m guessing many of the grapes are estate grown elsewhere like California. Did they mention any of that on the tour?
Some of the grapes are indeed brought in from California but a good number are farmed right there in Pahrump! I’d try it, you might be surprised 🙂
I recently wrote a post about having lunch at an award winning english winery in Essex. I didn’t even know we had them until a couple of weeks ago. They are really interesting places I think!
You’d probably enjoy this one too then if you make that trip to Vegas eventually!
Hard to believe there’s several wineries in the desert of Vegas! I’m not a wino either – I have 2 categories – Like it, don’t like it. haha – 2 buck chuck. 🙂
Ha! I’m with you Katie. But I do like the experience of visiting.
I’m always down for a good day of wine tasting! Oh, and you can sign me up for the Lucy and Ethel grape stomp too. So awesome!
I am seriously hoping to get to experience that someday. I love festivals, I love kitsch, and I love sippin’ on some wine. Perfect combo!
I’d be totally up for a Nevada wine tour! I like a good glass of wine as much as the next gal, but I’m with you, Alex. “Sweet” and “Dry” are about as descriptive as I get when it comes to tastings. Bring on the desert wine!
A girl after my own heart! And I always lean towards the sweet side 🙂
… might be something fun to do as a side trip at DEMA this November! Your post was great, Alex… I enjoy your writing style (and photos!) immensely, and it didn’t make a difference that you are not a wine aficionado … you still told a good story!
Thanks Bonnie! This would indeed be a great side trip from DEMA. It’s only an hour’s drive but it’s really a world away from the Strip!
I would have never thought that there are vineyards in the desert. How cool!
Yeah, it kind of reminded me of the Pisco tour I did in Ica, Peru…. out in the sand, they are making these wines and piscos! Amazing.
while i’m not much of a wine drinker, i do like visiting wineries on my travels. if nothing else, they’re good places to relax, enjoy some pretty scenery & often, yummy food!
That’s definitely what I’m in it for as well. Especially if they lean toward the quirky side!
I think it’s funny people are surprised by wineries in Nevada! Grapes grow really well in semi-arid climates…in fact they are ideal (think: Napa Valley, Mendoza Argentina, Tuscany Italy, Eastern Washington…to name a few). It’s true that good irrigation is essential but otherwise desert is great for wine! xx
I think the Nevada desert goes beyond semi-arid to like STRAIGHT DEHYDRATED, ha. The woman running our tour straight up said they know they will never be the next Napa Valley and they don’t even aspire to that, they just want to make a unique product Nevada can be proud of! Amen to that.
Hahaha well if they can produce something decent in those conditions, good on ’em! Anything has to be better than that sweet crap they called wine in the Ica desert! You know what I’m talking about…
That awards room DOES look super impressive! Will definitely consider trying this tour on my someday-trip to LV. 🙂
Someday should be soon, methinks!
Really enjoying that you are posting about different things to do in Las Vegas. Anyone can go to the casino, but who knew there was a winery so close.
So glad to hear you are enjoying the coverage, Josh! It’s been a pleasure introducing everyone to these slightly off the grid activities 🙂
One of the reasons I love Vegas so much is that there is so much to do! It’s not all free drinks and casinos 🙂
Nope, there’s always more to explore! Especially since I seem to do Vegas in little four day trips. Leaves reasons to come back every time!