Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2014 | 7 p.m.
Robin Leach has finished his annual summer vacation under the Tuscan sun in Italy, and many of our Strip personalities again stepped forward in his absence to pen their own words of wisdom. As Robin enjoys the remainder of his working vacation with his family, we continue today with our popular guest columns. Here is Jack Sanders, who is miraculously making wine in our desert.
“What the heck’s a winery doing in the middle of the desert?”
I can’t remember how many times I’ve been asked that question by thousands of tourists who visit our wineries here in Pahrump. Yes, Pahrump has become Nevada’s wine country, and why not?
Most grapes thrive in hot, dry climates and love the full range of sunshine that this beautiful high valley has year round. The average elevation is just under 2,700 feet, giving us cooler nights than Las Vegas and affording wonderful growing conditions.
When we visited Pahrump in 1985, we found that wine grapes have been growing in the valley for at least 150 years. A short time later, we founded the first modern commercial vineyard and winery.
It wasn’t easy. Wild mustang horses came off Spring Mountain Range and destroyed the first vines, but wild horses couldn’t stop the progress. We replanted and continued making award-winning wines.
At our new winery, Sanders Family Winery made no mistakes when it came to wild mustangs. We built an eight-foot estate fence around the new Kellogg Road vineyards and winery to keep out the wild animals. The Sanders Family Winery has been producing wines for more than 27 years in Pahrump.
Wineries create a great image for Pahrump
A lot of our encouragement and emotional support came from the Nevada Commission on Tourism, as well as the people of the town of Pahrump. They express pride when they say, “These are our wineries.”
Although the image of Pahrump remains rural and sprawling, Pahrump has taken on a degree of sophistication because of the wineries. We are extremely proud to be a part of this image change.
When you visit the wineries in Pahrump, you will automatically be transported to an ambiance of any wine country, with overtones of Napa, Sonoma and Tuscany, which Robin knows well from his annual visits there every summer. The wines are all great, with most of them international award winners.
History repeats itself
In 1989, we were asked to participate in Nevada’s 125th birthday celebration. We did this by releasing our first wine production in a three-bottle set. These wines are now collector’s items. Twenty-five years later, we feel extremely proud, “Nevada Proud,” to be part of Nevada’s 150th Anniversary — its Sesquicentennial — this year.
To celebrate, we have produced a limited amount of our ruby port commemorating Nevada’s statehood in a very special packaged format.
More than just wine
Wineries are more than just wineries today. At Sanders Family Winery, we have a performing arts center where we entertain with all types of music, from jazz, blues, swing, country, classic rock and nostalgia. We host plays, even musicals.
Today, our wine tastings are educational, cultural, entertaining and always lots of fun. Sanders Family Winery is an educational experience that is fully interactive. Sometimes we will let you help bottle and harvest, and of course there are free wine tastings. Like most wineries, we are located in the rural countryside.
Did I say countryside? Absolutely! Pahrump is less than an hour drive from Las Vegas via scenic Highway 160. It’s a beautiful drive over the Spring Mountains through Toyobe National Forest with majestic views of Mount Charleston. Joshua Trees appear on each side of the highway as you enter beautiful Pahrump Valley.
And while you’re here
Like to play golf? Try Mountain Falls Golf Course, as well as Lakeview. Pahrump has great casinos, hotels and top-rated RV parks. Spring Mountain Motor Ranch is one of the world’s top high-performance driving schools. We have a fantastic museum, public parks and great restaurants, too.
So come visit Pahrump, Nevada’s wine country!
Be sure to check out our other guest column today from gorgeous singer and dancer Maren Wade. On Wednesday, we’ll meet up with comedy star Geechy Guy and television’s secret kitchen weapon for beauty, Heather Marianna.
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
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