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NV's largest winery a short distance from Vegas

Posted at 12:55 PM, Nov 26, 2015
and last updated 2018-11-21 17:47:08-05

Did you know there is a winery only about an hour from the Las Vegas valley?

The Pahrump Valley Winery opened in 1990.

It's not actually the first winery in the area/ Chateau Buol existed nearby during the early 1900s. However, the winery had a short life and probably closed in the 1930s due to prohibition. Not much is actually known about that winery, but rumor has it that wine was given to friends and family in mason jars and jugs along with other "hooch" and the winery wasn't much more than a hobby to the family that ran it.

Fast forward to the early '90s and the development of the Pahrump Valley Winery. Unfortunately, the original vineyard was trampled down by a herd of wild horses and lost. Further attempts were also met with mixed results and failed to produce the grape harvest required to produce a quality wine.

The winery was sold in 2002 to WHR, Inc., a Colorado company. It was placed under the management of Bill and Gretch Loken. The Lokens purchased the winery and restaurant on Oct. 1, 2005, and continued the improvements that they began in 2003.

In 2005, the first successful Nevada exclusive harvest of Zinfandel grapes took place at the winery in the existing vineyard.Upon aging for two years in small oak barrels, the new estate wine is called “Nevada Ridge” and was released on April 16, 2008. Gretchen’s efforts and education helped her pioneer the “Nevada Ridge” estate wine and the Lokens believe this is the first-ever commercial bottled red wine in Nevada history. In 2008, Gretchen received a Winemaking Certificate from the University of California Davis, a popular institution known for its grape growing and winemaking expertise.

The Lokens believe in a bright future for Nevada grown and produced wines. They have been working for a decade with various start-up growers to help shape Nevada's grape growing industry. Not surprisingly, this has been met with many challenges and the results have been mixed at times. However, they are now making great strides with several Nevada vineyards located in Pahrump Valley, Armargosa and Crystal Heights. They harvest over 10 acres of Nevada grapevines spread over three vineyards.

Pahrump Valley Winery is the largest producing winery in Nevada and has won more than 400 wine awards since 2004. In 2015, they harvested 28 tons of grapes in Nevada. They also source grapes from some of the best growing regions in California.

Complimentary 30 minute tours of the winery and the grounds are offered daily at 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. to explain the history of the winery, growing grapes in Nevada and an overview on how the wine is produced. Wine Tasting Groups of eight or more require advance booking and are subject to a $5 per person tasting fee.

Guests are also invited to check out the winery's upscale restaurant, Symphony's Restaurant. The restaurant offers a scenic view and is open daily for lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 to 8:30 p.m. for dinner.

At lunch, guests may choose from several sandwiches: American Kobe Beef Burger, Grilled Chicken Panini, Cheese Steak Panini, Sirloin French Dip, and Smoked Pulled Pork - and many lunch-portioned entrees. There is also a selection of appetizers and salads that are served at both lunch and dinner. Appetizers include Lobster Bisque, Crab Cakes and Coconut Shrimp, and among the salads Apple Pecan Salad, Winemaker’s Cobb Salad, and Symphony’s Salad.

For dinner, guests can enjoy a wonderful selection of entrees – Steaks are 21-day aged “Prime” Black Angus Beef, ranging from the 10-ounce Flat Iron Steak, 12,-ounce New York Strip, Filet Mignon and the 14-ounce Boneless Ribeye. Surf and Turfs are offered, including the traditional Steak & Lobster and the signature dish, the Saint James, with filet medallions, crab-stuffed mushrooms, sautéed shrimp, lobster Crème Sherry Sauce and a side of asparagus. Seafood varies from Grilled North Atlantic Salmon, Seared Wild Alaskan Halibut, Winery Shrimp Scampi, Lobster Tail, plus many other entrees: Chicken Tuscany, Symphony Chicken Limone, Mushroom Ravioli, among others. Of course, for both lunch and dinner, there is a nice selection of wines on the menu, including bottled wines from other growers. A wide array of delicious desserts is offered, too.

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