This past weekend we ventured out to Fallon, Nevada to check out Frey Ranch Distillery and Churchill Vineyards – Nevada’s first estate distillery and premier winery. I met the Frey’s through my wife and I’m never disappointed to meet people doing great things with booze. We got to see first-hand how this husband and wife team are building a wine and spirits empire on the historic farm their family has owned for years and years. For part 1, I am going to focus on the wines and save the spirits for part 2. Hope you can stand the suspense…believe me, the spirits are worth the wait.
Colby and Ashley Frey of Frey Ranch Distillery and Churchill Vineyards have been making wine for several years and in recent years, made the dive into the world of spirits. Fallon is just over an hour drive from Reno which makes it easily accessible for a day trip. Parental tip…go in the fall and hit up the Lattin Farms pumpkin patch. Corn mazes and hayrides for the little kids; wine and cocktails for the big kids. Everyone wins!
Upon arrival at the ranch, after you are thrust into the bucolic setting of Dodge Lane lined with beautiful, full growth trees. The entrance is so grand you may miss all the vines planted to either side. The winery itself provides a great space for private events complete with classic cars and a private tasting bar. But, we headed straight to the rustic tasting room which is open every Saturday afternoon. The laid back feel of the space creates a great ambience for sampling the Churchill labeled wines. Even cooler are the picture windows behind the bar offering a snapshot of the one of a kind, hand-made Vendome still. You’ll pretty quickly realize that this isn’t going to be your average tasting experience.
Winemaker Colby Frey offers up an interesting variety of award-winning juice with his whites ranging from estate grown Riesling, Chardonnay/Semillon and Gewurtztraminer (Nevada Gewurtz! Its dry, yet crisp and refreshing. Awesome! $16).
The reds span the grape spectrum as well – from a Lodi sourced Cabernet Sauvignon (Rich and bold like a great cab should be. $20), Coombsville sourced Merlot and an estate grown red varietal called Lemberger. This is the only place I have been able to find this varietal in the states…not that I have looked too hard, but maybe I should as the Churchill expression is fantastic. Light, fruity and easy to drink. Perfect Tuesday nighter.
The wines provide amazing bang for the buck and offer great insight as to what’s possible in Nevada grape growing – which seems to be gathering growing interest. Even more interesting is how successful Colby Frey has been at training himself to be a winemaker. He shared with us that he hired a couple consultants in the beginning, took a few classes at UCDavis and essentially through a lot of experimenting – taught himself the very difficult skill of making wine. Colby’s clearly passionate about the direction he’s taking Frey Ranch and his excitement is a bit contagious. It’s pretty awesome to see this all happening right here in Nevada.
Check back soon for part 2 of our adventure to Frey Ranch Distillery and Churchill Vineyards.