Nevada is a state in the western United States, bordered by Oregon and Idaho to the north and California to the west. The state covers 110,500 square miles (286,000 sq km) and stretches between the latitudes of 35°N and 42°N.
The wine industry here is in its infancy. Currently Nevada is better known for whiskey and other spirits.
Wine production in Nevada
While the wine industry in this desert state is embryonic, Nevada producers are confident that the terroir here is as suited to viticulture as the Columbia Valley in Washington. So far, Chardonnay, Gewurztraminer and Zinfandel have proved the most successful.
Despite its name, which translates as "snow-capped" (after the Sierra Nevada mountain range), Nevada has an arid climate that is given to extremes of temperature. Here, summer daytime temperatures can approach 120°F (49°C) and winter nights regularly fall below 40°F (5°C). The state records are 125°F/51.6°C and -50°F/-45.5°C.
This degree of seasonal change and diurnal temperature variation is extremely challenging for vines, particularly when compounded by the lack of rainfall. Nevada receives an average of only seven inches (180mm) of rain per year.
As in many US states, government-supported research has been carried out (mostly by the University of Nevada) to identify those wine-grape varieties best suited to the desert climate. In 1995, a one-acre plot was planted within the grounds of the university's campus in Reno.
Some grapes have proved more resilient to the arid conditions and extreme temperature changes than others. Planting more sensitive varieties has proved to be a gamble.
Nevada's few wineries are found at relatively high altitudes along the western border, on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada mountains (also home to California's sizable Sierra Foothills AVA). The town of Pahrump, just 45 minutes' drive west of Las Vegas, has become a centerpoint for Nevada's fledgling wine industry, and is home to at least two wineries.
Nevada distilling and brewing
At the time of writing, by far the most searched-for Nevada brand on wine-searcher.com is Smoke Wagon Bourbon. It should be noted that this spirit from the MGP distillery in Indiana, the source of numerous products associated with other locations across the USA. The spirit is not aged in barrel in the state either, as the climate dries out oak barrels too quickly.
Distilling in the state tends to focus on vodka, gin and other spirits which do not require oak aging. Currently there are less than a dozen distilleries.
Similarly, there are only a handful of craft breweries in Nevada. Only two breweries survived Prohibition, and there was no brewing across the state from 1957 to 1993, when brewpubs were legalized.