Tag Archives: wine

Las Vegas has Wineries?

Where do you go when you need your wine fix and the nearest wineries you know of are in Northern Nevada or over in Northern California?  Pahrump of course!  Las Vegas does not have any wineries-that would be correct.  However, if you drive over the hump (over the mountain) to Pahrump, there are actually two wineries over there.  The whole 20 plus years that I have lived in Las Vegas, I knew there was one winery.  I found out that indeed there are two.  This  trip is just over an hour each direction.  Apparently, the first winery that was there sold out to the second owner and then opened up another one-or at least that is what I was recently told.  

While I had my daughter in town, we went along with a friend each over to Pahrump to check them out.  The first one we went to is called Pahrump Valley Winery and Symphony’s Restaurant. Very classy set up! The entire patron operation is set up amid the vines. You walk in the entry and have the wine bar on the right side with a back bar of all of the wines and their other item store to the left.  As in New Mexico, the tastings in Nevada are no cost.   After our tasting, we decided to have lunch.  While we were pretty casual, one gets a sense that the evening meals they serve are quite a bit more formal.  The food was absolutely delightful.    Did I tell you that I prefer sweet wines?  Not a problem-not only do they have dessert wine, they also have sherry.  This was my first time trying sherry and now I am hooked.

On to the other winery, which is named Sanders Family Winery.  This seems to be the smaller of the two operations (perhaps newer?).  They too sell other items along with wines and I had to take some phone pics while I was there, because they have wreaths on the wall made of wine corks.  They too have sherry for sale as well as their other wines and they introduced us to something new.  When we were done with our tastings, we each got a wine spritzer-made with either port or sherry and some gingerale.  I am hooked.  Of course it makes my purchases last longer as well.  

I have talked this one up and have lots of friends that want to make that trip.  What a party we could have for those that want to go.  This is another one of those trips where I took pictures, but they got deleted.  I promise I will get out there to take pics again.

Wining Out With the Girls Thanksgiving

As my trips to Reno are coming to an end in the next year, I couldn’t pass up another opportunity to meet up with the girls and do the wine thing.  Once again, we went to Mt. Vernon and worked our way through what has got to be the longest wine tasting list around.  I have been around some now, in several states, and have yet to come up with a list anywhere near as long.  They were really busy during the Thanksgiving weekend, but we did our usual catching up with the servers behind the bar.

Mt. Vernon Winery Thanksgiving

Mt. Vernon Winery Thanksgiving

The new one this time was a small (fairly new?) winery called the Fawnridge Winery.  Oh my gosh, we had fun at this one.  We had a wonderful time chatting with the owner and some of the other patrons.  They have a wide variety of other items for sale. I brought home a wine bottle shaped night light, a new wine sign for in my house and some Port Chocolate Wine Sauce as well as wine.  They also sell a variety of flavored oils.  Food samples as well, with extremely well picked wine pairings.  To top it off, when we drove down the hill, there was a deer standing right there.

My First Real Wine Tasting

On a visit to my daughter in Alamogordo, New Mexico-I discovered wine tasting.  It wasn’t even really in our plans for the day, but it just happened.  Our real plans were to drive over the mountain through the Mescalero Apache Indian Reservation and go shopping in the resort town of Ruidoso.  We weren’t even doing serious shopping,  just the casual something to do variety.  We first found a gift shop called Heart’s Delight, having specialty items including kitchen gadgets.  My daughter and I can always do damage in a store with kitchen gadgets.  After leaving Heart’s Delight, we wandered and found Willmon Vineyards, a wine tasting room in a store that carries specialty food items besides wine.   We had a great time talking with the couple behind the bar, finding out that they used to own a business and live in Las Vegas, NV -my home.  Our conversation was so good, they started telling us about the New Mexico Wine Passport program.  This is a program where the more wineries on their passport you visit, the better for you.  It means free or greatly reduced items for you.  So out the door we went with our bottles of wine and our New Mexico Wine Passports with some more adventures to come.    Willmon’s main vineyard is located somewhere else in the state, but the store with wine tasting is there in Ruidoso.  It may be a little hard to find.  When I recently did a search for wine tasting in Ruidoso, I couldn’t see Willmon.  After asking my daughter what it was called, I searched again, being successful this time.  It is located a couple blocks farther down the main drag on a slightly quieter block.

Heart of the Desert, Alamogordo

So with our wine passports in hand, this presented a challenge.  We just had to stop at a winery on our way back to Alamogordo.  So we landed at Heart of the Desert.  Since they are known for both wine and pistachios, we got double the bang for our buck.  We sampled wines, pistachios and had light snacks as well.  My daughter joined the wine club and I bought pistachios for my husband.  They also have an antique wine truck out in front, so we had to take pictures.  And then it was time to head for the house.

But wait, it’s not over yet.  My daughter and I already had plans to go to Santa Fe for a couple of days.  On the way, we planned to go to the top of  Sandia Peak  in Albuquerque.   Ever the person who coupons and tries to save money, I planned on taking the road to the top of Sandia Peak and saving the cost of the Tramway tickets.  It just wasn’t meant to be-after going in search of the road on the back side of the mountain and finding it closed due to fire restrictions, Sandia Peak got put on the back burner until we came back from Santa Fe.    Also always one to save time where possible, we decided we would just stay on the back road we were on and take that to Santa Fe and trip upon whatever happened to be on that road.  Here we are, driving along, and we come to this really small town with little fenced yards that come right to the edge of Highway 14.   I am thinking, I know this place, oh, oh, oh, yeah the little town in the movie “Wild Hogs”.  Madrid, New Mexico’s claim to fame is the movie “Wild Hogs”.   This is one very quaint and now famous little town-I do mean little.  But anyone who has been through the town and seen the movie will recognize it.  What a pleasant surprise on an unplanned road for our trip.

We arrive in Santa Fe and find a parking place that we can find later after we have had some wine.  With those hot wine passports in hand, we head off to visit old town Santa Fe and find some wine tasting rooms.  Now the wineries in Santa Fe are actually sampling wine from wineries that are not located in Santa Fe-there just isn’t room.  We were determined to get some more stamps on our wine passports and do some unplanned shopping-the best kind.  The Santa Fe Plaza had an Arts and Crafts Festival going on including many Native American vendors who sell out of the Palace of the Governors located on the plaza and is also has the Santa Fe Convention and Visitors Authority.  The first place we found for tasting wine was Vino del Corazon Winery located not too far from the plaza.  This is only a tasting room-no room for vineyards here in town.  We had a nice conversation with the young man behind the bar as to why we wouldn’t find much in the way of wine tasting right near the plaza.  We sampled and purchased.  Next we hopped in the car and ventured out some to find Estrella del Norte Vineyard, where we once again sampled and purchased.  Has anyone counted how many bottles of wine we bought?  It doesn’t really matter as long as we drink it eventually-right?

Sandia Peak, Albuquerque

Back on the road we went.  So taking a different route, we headed to Albuquerque and Sandia Peak, this time to ride the tram to the top, take pictures and learn some more.  The homes at the bottom of the tram are absolutely gorgeous-I am slightly envious.  The story about them though is intriguing.  They sit on reservation land and are built on land leases.  So one would hope that the leases go for a long time and no one who counts gets upset with you.  So now up the mountain we go on the tram.  There had been a bear sighted occasionally, but not on this day.  It was a very pleasant ride on the tram though with further details from the tram guide.  I was very surprised at how high up the top of the mountain really is and the view from the top is beautiful, as well as somewhat interactive.  They have a couple of sets of (binoculars) pre-set to certain positions indicating certain things to see from the top of the mountain.  The other thing to know if you are there in winter and like skiing, there is a ski area on the backside of the mountain from the tram.

So all told, we got five stamps for each of our wine passports and I left mine for my daughter’s friend when I returned to Vegas.

Wining Out with the Girls, Summer 2013

California has long been known for its Napa Valley wineries.  I actually lived in Sacramento, California once upon a time-but not always.  When I moved to California, one of the first things that happened was a wine and cheese meet and greet at our apartment complex.  Not being a wine drinker at the time, I showed up with a screw on cap bottle of cheap wine.  Laugh all you want , but it wasn’t until after the party was rolling that I realized I was in California, not too far from Napa Valley and that I had really made a mistake in my wine selection.

Jump forward about 27 years. I still am not really an expert at wine, but I do have my preferences.  Now my favorite is some variety of Moscato, still screw on cap.  I do occasionally indulge in a more expensive, corked bottle of wine now.  I now have occasion to get up to the northern part of Nevada where my son attends school.  And it isn’t all that far to drive back down the hill to reconnect with the godmothers of my children.  So the girls (the godmothers and other people we used to work with) and I make a new regular habit of getting together to do something.  One of the girls lives near Auburn, a more recent wine mecca.  So we all decide one day to go check out  a couple of the wineries in the area.  Our local connection tells us we have to go to Mt. Vernon winery that day.  Now most wineries offer wine tasting of  5 or 6 wines for a fee of about $5 which is waved if you buy a bottle.  Now let it be said, the wineries you find in California most likely do not have any Moscato.  After our experience with tasting, I can say with confidence that I lean sweet and usually end up with a bottle of Port.

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Visiting Mt. Vernon Winery

But now I have veered way off topic.  So here we are at Mt. Vernon Winery out under the arbor. We sampled 11 (yes-that is eleven) wines that day.  Some in the group even slowed down and didn’t sample that many.  Who does that-offers that many wine samples?  Needless to say I think we all bought a bottle.  The winery also has an arbor covered with flowering vines in one part of the property and a picnic area just outside of the sampling room.  The picnic area has tables, chairs, an antique pick-up and other antique wine making pieces-which makes for some very nice photo ops, whether one is serious or just hamming it up.

We also visited Lone Buffalo Vineyards that day.  It was a newer place, at least newer location.  They offered the expected normal number of wines to taste.  The decorations were more of a western theme with a focus on buffalo.  They were a bit eclectic by offering items for sale by local artists.  I purchased a wonderful piece of pottery that I couldn’t keep my eyes off-as well as a bottle or two of wine.  All in all it was fun day wining out with the girls.  After all of those wine samples, our tummys  let us know that they wanted to be fed.  So we started another tradition that day.  We went to Awful Annie’s Restaurant.

Located in Old Town Auburn in an old building with both indoor and outdoor seating, it is a very nice and very popular place to go.  But it too is now part of our tradition of Wining Out With the Girls.