When it comes to top wine regions in the Western states, most people think of Napa Valley and Sonoma in California. Indeed, some of the best wines in the country come from these areas, but neighboring Nevada also produces a number of high-quality wines. One of the best wineries in Nevada is Pahrump Valley Winery, which also happens to be the oldest winery in the state.
Voted Best Nevada Winery in 2015, 2016, and 2017, Pahrump Valley Winery is located near the California border west of Las Vegas. Pahrump Valley Winery was founded in 1990 and sold to its current owners in 2003. Since then, the owners have revamped the winery, adding a wine production cellar with stainless steel fermentation tanks, grape pressing equipment, a bottling line, and a new oak barrel room for aging wine.
Surprisingly, the estate had vines planted in the 1990s that had long gone unharvested. In 2005, the vineyard owners harvested these grapes and created the 2005 Zinfandel, the state of Nevada’s first commercial red wine. With notes of cola and cherry, this wine took home the Gold medal at the Pacific Rim International Wine Competition.
The 2005 Zinfandel would prove to be just the first of Pahrump Valley Winery’s first commercial wine varieties from Nevada. The winery also produced the state’s first commercial Merlot (2008), Cabernet Sauvignon (2008), Primitivo (2010), Syrah (2011), and Tempranillo (2010), among others. In addition to serving as a pioneer with the state’s first-ever homegrown wine varieties, Pahrump Valley Winery has garnered recognition for the high quality of its wines, having won more than 470 wine awards, including three Double Gold awards and 18 Gold awards.
The winery sells its wines under three labels, including its namesake, Pahrump Valley Winery.
Pahrump Valley Winery
Although Pahrump Valley Winery has made great strides in growing grapes in Nevada and collaborates with several local vineyards, the wines from the Pahrump Valley Winery label come from grapes grown in California. Vineyards include Capp Family Vineyards on the north coast, Tumbus Vineyards in Amador County, Penn Valley Vineyards in the Sierra Foothills region, Mariah Vineyards in Mendocino Ridge, and Tecklenburg Ranch in Lodi.
From this brand comes the winery’s most widely acclaimed wine, the 2017 Symphony. This award-winning wine features a unique blend of flavors, including apricot, honeysuckle, and lychee.
This label also boasts the Crème Sherry, which ages in oak barrels for approximately four years. With buttered walnut, cream, vanilla, and butterscotch flavors, this dessert wine won the Gold medal from the Tasters Guild and the Silver award at both the Pacific Rim International Wine Competition and the Amenti del Vino International Wine Competition.
The winery’s Nevada Ridge label features limited-production wines made from grapes grown in Nevada. This label includes the 2015 Nevada Primitivo, a dry wine with raspberry fruit and plum flavors, as well as a toffee finish. This wine took home the Gold medal at the Tasters Guild International Wine Competition, the Silver medal at the Tastings World Wine Competition, and the Bronze medal at the Pacific Rim International Wine Competition.
The other wine in the Nevada Ridge brand is the 2015 Nevada Silver State Red, which ages for 18 months in French and American oak barrels. The 2014 vintage of this wine won Silver awards at both the Pacific Rim International Wine Competition and the Tasters Guild International.
Named after the Pahrump Valley Winery’s location near Mt. Charleston near the Nevada and California border, Charleston Peak is the winery’s newest label. This exciting label includes the 2016 Merlot, which features hints of black currant and plum. The 2011 vintage of this wine won the Gold medal at the Amenti del Vino International Wine Competition.
Another standout wine from the Charleston Peak label is Sweet Melody, a ruby red chocolate wine dark chocolate and black cherry aromas. Also catering to white wine enthusiasts, the Charleston Peak label includes a newly released 2016 Chardonnay. Aged in barrels for five months, this white wine features pear and star of anise flavors.
Visitors to Pahrump Valley Winery can try these and other wines seven days a week in the tasting room or at Symphony’s Restaurant, which earned Nevada Magazine’s Best Restaurant award from 2015 through 2017. This “upscale casual” restaurant is open for lunch and dinner and serves a variety of fare, including black Angus steak, pasta, and seafood.
Pahrump Valley Winery offers a glimpse into what pioneering winemakers are doing in the Silver State. Before visiting, be sure to check out the winery’s website for information on the latest releases and the most recent harvest. Some of the wines from this groundbreaking Nevada winery may end up on your list of favorites and may even surprise you with an outstanding quality similar to that of wines in neighboring California.