Nevada Vines & Wines’ Tour Visits Northern Nevada’s Backyard Vineyards
Written by Annie Flanzraich
Photos courtesy of Stuart Michell/Nevada Vines & Wines
Picture a two-day vineyard touring event, culminating in a tasting party featuring sips from more than 15 local winemakers and three to four commercial producers. Where would this fête du vin take place? Napa Valley? Sonoma? Paso Robles?
Try Northern Nevada.
NVUS Vineyards in New Washoe City grows more than 50 vines, including varieties of Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Sémillon, and Riesling. Photo by Stuart Michell
One Aug. 3rd and 4th, Nevada Vines & Wines will host its annual Backyard Vineyard Tour— which is precisely what it sounds like. On the two-day, self-paced tour, participants can explore more than 20 local vineyards located in the backyards of homes in the Truckee Meadows, from Palomino Valley in the north to Carson City and Wellington in the south. The tour finishes with a wine-tasting celebration from 3 to 5 p.m., Aug. 4, at Tamarack Junction in Reno. Tickets cost $55 in advance and $95 at the door, limit 200 tickets. Each includes admission to the vineyards and the food and wine-tasting celebration.
Atanda and David Clark in their backyard vineyard, Shadow Lane Vineyards, in June 2019. The Clarks grow more than 300 vines of Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot in their Sparks backyard. Photo by Tom Smedes
Cabernet Sauvignon grapes grow in September 2018 at Shadow Lane Vineyards. Owners Atanda and David Clark established their backyard vineyard in 2004. Photo by Dave Clark
But vineyards in Northern Nevada? Is it really possible to grow grapes in the high desert?
“People just don’t know that we can actually have vineyards and grow grapes successfully here, in Northern Nevada,” says Stuart Michell, vice president of Nevada Vines & Wines and the organization’s 2019 Backyard Vineyard Tour chair. “That’s a big misperception or a lack of perception.”
In fact, the 20 participating backyard vineyards represent just some of the local grape growers in Northern Nevada. Nevada Vines & Wines includes more than 100 members.
“People love wine; what’s not to like?” Michell says. “I think it’s a little bit of an adventure for most of us that are growing grapes. It’s a hobby in the beginning, but then you have to step outside the norm of having a lawn in your backyard and put something else in there that you totally enjoy.”
Vines grow at Twin Mustang Vineyards in Sparks in April 2019. Established by Jason and Deborah Schultz in 2007, the backyard vineyard grows about 400 vines and varieties include Frontenac, Marquette, Frontenac Gris, and Petite Pearl. Photo by Jason Schultz
Recently, the organization’s annual wine competition boasted 110 different bottles and about 25 to 30 varieties. The professional judges awarded some of the wines gold and double gold, Michell says.
“Double gold means the wine was unanimously judged by the judges as being excellent wine,” he says.
Formed in 2013, Nevada Vines & Wines aims to educate and promote viticulture and wine production in Nevada and see the state recognized as a winegrower and producer. The all-volunteer, nonprofit organization helps commercial and home winemakers explore grape production through educational events and activities. The group’s largest event and fundraiser is the annual Backyard Vineyard Tour.
Although the event took a hiatus in 2017, it’s back in 2019 with almost double the number of participating backyard vineyards from 2018. The vineyards range in size, with some having less than 50 vines and several with more than 1,000. On the self-guided tour of privately owned vineyards in Northern Nevada, participants receive maps and a suggested route for all locations. Each vineyard will offer a 30-minute tour every hour, on the hour during the event.
“Come and take a look at what you probably won’t believe you’re looking at,” Michell says. “And that is a beautiful vineyard here in the high desert of Northern Nevada.”
Moe Dyette stands by the vines in Dyette Family Vineyard in Sparks. Photo by Adrian Dyette
The Dyette Family Vineyard rows more than 600 vines, including varieties of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, St. Pepin, Riesling, Frontenac, Marquette, and Petite Pearl. Photo courtesy of Nevada Vines & Wines
However, there’s no wine tasting allowed in the backyards. All sipping happens at the wine-tasting celebration on Aug. 4.
In addition to raising funds for the nonprofit, the Backyard Vineyard Tour also raises awareness of and interest in backyard viticulture, Michell says.
“People imagine having a small vineyard in their backyard and sitting on their little French table with a couple of chairs, a bottle, and the sun going down and they’re saying, ‘I could do this in my backyard,’” he says.
For more information and to buy tickets, visit Nvandw.com/BackyardVineyardTour.
Annie Flanzraich Reno-based writer and editor who can easily envision having a backyard vineyard — if she had a backyard.