Pahrump Correspondence – August 2019

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Drink some great wine and watch people stomp grapes

Contestants stomping grapes at the annual Pahrump Winery Grape Stomp (Photo by Horace Langford Jr.)

Each year the Pahrump Valley Winery has its annual Grape Stomp which attracts about 3,000 people from all over. The Pahrump Grape Stomp celebrates the end of the grape harvest. It is a festival centered around the stomping of the grapes, an age old tradition which many wineries used to juice the grapes, as was so vividly displayed on the “I Love Lucy” show. (Now I’m dating myself.)

Don’t worry, you haven’t missed the signup. You can still sign up for the competition. The winery says stay tuned to their website and there will be a sign-up sheet for the Stomp. Last year it was $50 to compete, and that gives you free entrance and complimentary wine tasting. For those not competing, general admission is $10-$20, and this year it will be on Oct. 5-6.

Photo by Horace Langford Jr.

“It might be different this year,” says Lynn, an employee at the winery.  “It takes two days to get through all the contestants, and usually around 150 teams are willing to get all slimy and sticky.” And, contrary to popular belief, the winery does not use the grapes from the competition to make wine.

In addition to the stomping of grapes and the tasting of wine, the small festival has vendors where local artists sell their wares and some great food.  If you don’t like huge crowds, this festival is for you. It’s one of my favorite Pahrump festivals for this very reason. The Grape Stomp is small and intimate, a place where one can sit and enjoy the atmosphere. The winery usually puts large tables out in the shade so people can watch the grape stomping contest while they enjoy a glass or two of their favorite wine. On a typical Grape Stomp weekend, the winery sells about 450 cases of wine. The new management promises this year’s Grape Stomp will be bigger and better.

Staff member pours grape juice into a measuring cup to determine the winner of the Grape Stomp. (Photo by Horace Langford Jr.)

The Pahrump Valley Winery has about two acres of grape vines on the property and another 26 off the property. The winery was voted the best in the state in 2015, 2016 and 2017 by Nevada Magazine. Since 2004, the winery has garnered nearly 430 National Wine Awards. The winery makes wine at the location and gets from 50 to 60 tons of grapes produced in the Silver State, along with grapes produced in California. It has been open since 1990. The first family to own the winery was the Sanders family. In 2003, the Loken family bought it and then sold it this year to the new owners.

The state of Nevada is slowly growing as a wine state. According to the Pahrump Valley Times, in 2005 the state harvested only one ton of Nevada grapes. In 2017, 35 tons were harvested, and in 2019 they expect 50-60 tons of grapes.

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Craft vendors sell their wares at the annual Pahrump Winery Grape Stomp (Photo by Horace Langford Jr.)

By October, fall is in full swing in the desert and the temperatures are finally down to normal levels of 80-90 degrees. People can stay at the winery, which rents cottages, or there are four hotels in town and a multitude of RV parks.

Pahrump has two wineries at the moment and is looking to open a third. Sanders Winery is located at 3780 Kellogg Road, 775-727-1776. Stop in and see them, too. The winery is easy to get to and is located at 3810 Winery Road off of Highway 160 on the south side of town. The phone number is 775-751-7800. The hours of operation are from 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week.

— Vernon Hee
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