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Wine Oasis May Sprout in Nevada Desert

November 23, 1987|From the Associated Press

PAHRUMP, Nev. — A winery in the heart of southern Nevada's sun-baked desert?

It may not strike fear into the hearts of Napa Valley wine makers, but a group of local businessmen want to make their town the wine capital of Nevada.

They want to plant a 60-acre vineyard and build a 6,500-square-foot winery with tasting rooms in the town, 63 miles west of Las Vegas.

Group spokesman Jack Sanders said wine grapes produced in soil that now yields sagebrush, yucca and other desert species will meet California standards.

"This could become another economy for the state," said Sanders, president of a casino here. "The soil samples and weather seem to be favorable."

Plans call for the winery to produce 50,000 gallons a year in two varieties: carnellion, a red wine, and symphony, a semi-sweet white wine.

But before Sanders and the other business leaders can carry out their plans, they must get state legislators to change a law that prohibits such a winery.

Under current state law, a company can either manufacture, distribute or sell an alcoholic beverage, but it can't perform more than one of the functions. The Pahrump winery would both make and sell wine.

State Taxation Director Perry Comeaux, whose staff has reviewed the plans with the winery backers, said he expects opposition from the state's wholesale liquor industry.

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