Pahrump has been blessed over the last decade with two award-winning wineries. Although the first winery was bonded in 1930, it was never developed. Long-time resident, Jack Sanders, founded Pahrump Valley Winery in 1990. In 2002, he sold the business to Bill and Gretchen Loken, who ran it until it sold again in 2019. Jack never quit producing wine after the sale, and he opened his second successful winery, Sanders Family Winery, in 2009. Both wineries continue to win awards and provide the town with first-class wines.
Our Winery Population Continues to Grow
The exciting news for wine lovers is two new winery licenses have been issued in town. Wine connoisseurs can welcome Artesian Cellars, a wine tasting room, and Stonewise, a meadery, and taproom. What is a meadery, you may ask? Well, I’ll answer that in a minute, but suffice it to say, they function under a winery license. That’s the only hint I’ll give you at this time.
Tim Burke and Pam Tyler-Burke are partners in this new adventure. Tim says he’s had a passion for building a winery his whole life. He’s a native of Nevada and grew up in a rural farming area in Dayton, NV, east of Carson City. His uncle lived in Napa and introduced Tim to the wine region of California. After finishing college at the University of Nevada, he spent a lot of time with his uncle in the wine country. Now he blames his uncle for his expensive wine habits.
During these visits to Napa, he learned the whole process of producing wine from planting and harvesting the grapes to making the wine. He often visited other wineries and studied other grape-growing areas. In 2009-2010, he attended the University of California Davis’s online Wine School to sharpen his knowledge.
In addition to her involvement with Artesian Cellars, Tim’s partner, Pam Tyler-Burke, is a Facilities Conference Expert and is currently the Director of Facilities for The Rio All-Suites Hotel Casino in Las Vegas. This means she’s in charge of all of the mechanical and electrical facilities for the complex. She is the only woman on the Vegas Strip to hold this position. This technical knowledge comes in handy when operating a winery.
In 2014, Tim purchased land in Pahrump to establish a vineyard, and in 2015 he began planting grapevines. He started an internship with VESTA (Viticulture Enology Science and Technology Alliance), a national grape and wine education program. Fellow vintner, Jack Sanders, was a great deal of help as Tim was going through this process. Soon, he became active in the state co-op and began helping others with their grape crops.
In 2018, he became a home winemaker, restricted to the output to 200 gallons per year. He harvested his first batch of grapes, which was less than 1000 lbs. and won a Silver State Medal. Soon, he obtained his federal license.
After investigating several locations to establish their wine tasting room, Tim and Pam found the right place on Highway 160 and began renovating the building. They were still securing their county liquor license when COVID-19 hit delaying the opening of their tasting room.
Along with the others involved with the local wine industry, he has been active in the legal aspects of the Nye County Wine Industry. These changes in the Nye County regulations also set back Artesian Cellars’ timeline. Still, they are working with the commissioners and other wineries to create workable legislation for all those involved.
As far as serving food, they are licensed for a small snack bar. Initially, they’ll keep it to cheese, crackers, and meat plates. But they are not ruling out additional types of food in the future.
The interior of the tasting room is homey and encourages gatherings with friends to enjoy the wine and the ambiance of the surroundings. They also have a patio in the back, which provides a clear view of the mountains.
The wineries in town are working together to expand their industry. They are excited to help each other get started and to add new wine establishments to the community. Tim says, “we’ve had a great experience with our new adventure. Everyone in the industry is collaborating to help it grow. A rising tide raises all the boats. We’ll grow together.”
Opening date? Legislation completed? Next steps?
Hours of operation:
Monday-Thursday 11:00am – 6:00pm
Friday-Saturday 11:00am – 9:00pm
Sunday noon – 5:00pm
Vineyard tours are by appointment only.
The second new wine establishment to open its doors in Pahrump is Stonewise Meadery. So, what exactly, is a meadery? According to their website, “Stonewise is a small, community-based, family-focused craft mead and cider maker and taproom in Pahrump, NV. We offer draft meads and ciders produced on-site that are crisp, refreshing, ‘sessionable’ (less than 7% Alcohol by Volume), and served by the glass straight from our own taps.”
Just in case you’re not familiar with mead, it’s a wine-like alcoholic drink made by fermenting honey, yeast, and water. Other ingredients can be added such as various fruits, spices, grains, or hops to alter the taste. Sometimes it’s called the Drink of the Gods or Honey Wine, and it’s been around for thousands of years. Some say it’s the oldest alcoholic beverage created. Legally, it is categorized as a wine, but because hops are sometimes used in mead as a preservative, it is often referred to as a beer.
Dr. Chris and Shawna Perez created Stonewise. In 2012, they were introduced to mead while visiting family in Germany. They loved it and decided to learn more about it. When they returned home to San José, they only found one bottle of it, and both agreed it wasn’t very good compared to what they’d found in Germany. They decided they could make a better one.
In 2013, they began fermentation and made their first batch of mead. (They still have a bottle of their original brew.) Chris became hooked on the processing and began experimenting by adding different ingredients creating different flavors. Mead can be strong and thick, and Chris was looking for something more refreshing.
He became interested in brewing session meads and began a trial and error process with them until he found just the right combination. A session mead contains less alcohol by volume (ABV), usually less than 7%. They tend to taste crisper, lighter, and more revitalizing. You can also drink more of it without feeling the effects of the alcohol.
Stonewise also produces different varieties of cider, which is similar to mead but made from fermented apple juice. Chris enjoys trying new combinations and being creative with recipes. The options are endless, and he’s developed a wide range of delightful tastes.
Chris is a licensed clinical psychologist and was teaching at the University of La Verne. They eventually moved to Henderson, NV, (what took you to Henderson from La Verne?) and that’s when they began to make mead. As they became more involved with producing mead and cider, they started toying with the idea of changing their life plans and decided to build a meadery.
Shawna’s parents moved to Pahrump when her father retired from the military, and they visited her parents here many times. They decided Pahrump was the perfect location for their new meadery. They love the slower pace of the rural environment and the friendly people who always say hello.
Their business is a family business. Not only are they both involved in it, but they treat their customers like family too and encourage them to bring their kids with them. They have a play area for the children in the corner of their tasting room. All kids must be accompanied by an adult.
When they came to town and began creating their new business, they became acquainted with Jack Sanders and Tim Burke, who were very helpful as they learned their way around the town’s business culture. All of them have been working together with the Planning Committee on the new rules for wineries in our community.
The Perezes plan to get a snack bar license, but if you want to bring your own food into their shop, they encourage you to do so. In fact, they offer menus from some of the restaurants located around them.
Soon after they opened their doors, COVID-19 hit, which set back their full opening. They are only allowed to provide curbside pickup at this point. However, when they can open fully, they want to provide their customers with a sense of community where they can meet their friends, enjoy a glass of mead or cider, and have a good time.
Hours of operation: Revised due to COVID
Monday – Wednesday By Appointment
Thursday – Friday 4:30pm – 7:00pm
Saturday 3:30pm – 7:00pm
Sunday 3:30pm – 6:00pm
Will Pahrump Become the Wine Country of Nevada?
Pahrump is a great place to establish a winery. The weather is inviting for tourists, there’s ample room, and the townspeople are receptive. We’re less than an hour’s drive from Las Vegas, one of the country’s biggest tourist attractions. As the wineries and meadery work together, who knows, we could become the Napa Valley of Nevada.