Sip and Savor at Churchill Vineyards
Are you a wine wizard or a liquor lover? If so, a visit to the Frey Family Ranch and Churchill Vineyards is a must.
Churchill Vineyards is the only Nevada winery producing Nevada grown grapes and bottled white wines. They also make several reds with grapes shipped in from California. Their limited production appeals to collectors from all over the United States.
Colby Frey, the Churchill Vineyards winemaker, is a fifth generation Nevada farmer. Frey is successfully growing European Vinifera grapes and producing premium wines in Northern Nevada. He has worked with several experienced winemakers from all over the country and has been a guest speaker at different forums.
Visitors who drive to the Frey Ranch will pass through a towering tunnel of trees that leads to the beautiful Tuscan style grounds. Colby Frey’s great-great-grandfather, Joseph Frey Sr., acquired one of the original land claims filed in Nevada in 1854. The Frey family first made their mark on Nevada as farmers during the boom times of the gold and silver rush years. In 2001 Colby and his father, Charles Frey Jr., expanded the horizons of their farmland which was primarily planted in grain and alfalfa. They planted a three-acre vineyard and began producing wine.
On a recent tour of the farm I was impressed by the quality of the wines and the professional approach this extended family uses in farming and marketing both wines and spirits.
“All of the wines are made from grapes that are produced on the farm, except for the reds,” said marketing and sales representative Ashley Frey.
Wines produced at Frey Ranch include a Nevada grown Riesling, Gewurztraminer, and Chardonnay-Semillon. Merlot, cabernet sauvignon, and petit Syrah are also produced with purchased grapes.
Not just grape growers, the business also produces grains for spirits that they distill right on site. The family opened the Frey Ranch Estate Distillery, which they claim is Nevada’s first commercial distillery, in 2010. The distillery produces brandy, grappa, vodka and gin. They are also working on their first whiskey product that will make its debut in 2018.
“We use a grain to bottle process,” said Russell Frey, distillery tour guide. “All of our grains on the property are grown for a higher starch yield. It takes about 19 hours to produce the mash.”
The management at Frey industries realizes that water is a precious resource in Nevada, and they have worked diligently to discover crops that require minimal water consumption. It takes about one tenth of the water to raise fine wine grapes as it does to produce hay and grain crops.
The distilled products all have unique methods of flavoring with local sage and juniper berries used to make the gin.
The vodka that is produced on the farm is made with corn, rye, wheat and barley, which is not typical of other vodkas. The four-grain combination promotes a creamy texture in the spirits. Most other vodkas use only one variety of grain for easy production.
The tasting room at Churchill Vineyards and Frey Ranch Distillery is open every Saturday from noon to 4 p.m. At 1045 Dodge Lane the location is just a short drive from town. Visitors are welcome to come in and try out the different products. Afterwards they will get a tour of the distillery and barrel room and, when not in production, a visit to the winery.
Fine wines and liquors are available for purchase at the farm but can also be purchased in many other locations throughout Nevada. See www.churchillvineyards.com or www.freyranch.com to learn where you can pick up a bottle or two of some of Fallon’s own liquid gold.
Frey Family Ranch and Churchill Vineyards, Open Saturdays, Noon-4pm.
1045 Dodge Lane, Fallon, NV 89406 Phone 775-423-4000
— Cynthia Delaney