Basin and Range is a micro-production winery, sourcing all of our fruit from a single vineyard- our 9.3 acre site in Minden, Nevada. This is the highest elevation commercial vineyard in the U.S. Here, we use sustainable farming to cultivate our French-American hybrid grape varietals that are uniquely suited for this site. Our well-drained granite soils, arid climate, and abundant sunshine form the perfect terroir for us to produce these small lots of rustic unfiltered wines that are truly unrivaled quality in these funky varietals. And this all happens entirely in Northern Nevada!
The owners, Wade Johnston and Joe Bernardo, painstakingly control every aspect of the operation, from budbreak to bottle. Together, they have more than 35 years of experience with winemaking and viticulture; experience that includes commercial operations, home wine making, and teaching courses on the subjects. The more they worked with vines and wines in the area the more they both recognized the potential for some great wines to be made in this region.
Many elements that make a place fit for producing great wine grapes were present here, but the state law was preventing it from coming to fruition. Due to the powerful lobbying presence of the alcohol distributors in the State, it was illegal to have a winery in Washoe or Clark counties. That changed in November 2015 with the passage of Assembly Bill 4- the windfall Basin and Range had been waiting for!
After that, it was time to get down to business. First and foremost, the vineyard. We cultivate our grapes on a gently sloping site with decomposed granite soils located on Buffalo Creek Ranch. It sits smack dab on the faulted boundary between the Sierra Nevada, the granite backbone of the continent, and the Basin and Range, a landscape characterized by north-south mountain ranges, active extensional tectonics, and mostly internal drainage of its rivers. At the intersection of these two geologic provinces our 9.3 acres of grape vines has company among Willows, Jeffrey Pine, Aspen and an orchard of peaches, apples, pears, walnuts and almonds. A system of hand-stacked rock walls keeps out critters like deer and bears. Sitting near the base of Jobs Peak outside South Lake Tahoe, the vineyard has an elevation of 5240’!
Our unique French-American hybrid grape varietals are well suited for this area. Abundant sunshine allows us to achieve levels of ripeness better than anywhere else in the country where these hybrids are being grown. Additionally, the arid climate prevents mold, rot and fungus that is a problem in California, France and most of the world’s major wine regions where they have to use chemicals for prevention. And while we won’t seek organic accreditation, our fruit is organic as it gets. We prune the vines to produce low yielding crops. As harvest approaches in the fall we trim back to canopy to expose the fruit to more sunshine, cut the water back and let the grapes accumulate polyphenols and esters that result in dense flavor-packed fruit primed to make award-winning wines. Our farming practices are as simple as that. This is low intervention farming where we let the fruit be the fruit.
Back to the story; once we had our vineyard we partnered with two other fledging wineries with similar ambitions, Great Basin Winery and Nevada Sunset, to share a winery and tasting room so that wine drinkers could experience three separate wineries in the same place. Before we began work on our winery another legal problem halted our plans- the State of Nevada wouldn’t allow multiple wineries to operate on the same premises. This was due to an unfavorable interpretation of the new AB4 law by the State of Nevada. Together with the members of the Nevada Wine Coalition and many others this problem was surmounted and the law successfully changed to allow the three wineries to operate together.
Since then, a lot of blood, sweat and tears have been shed at Basin and Range. This is wine made the hard way, hand pruned and picked and made in small lots. We use low intervention wine making practices and our bottlings are rustic, full of character and unfiltered to preserve their originality. We are immensely proud of these wines! They have turned out even better than we had imagined and we are confident they will earn the appreciation of you, your friends, family and the pickiest palettes you can bring our way.
If you’re in the neighborhood and can pay us a visit in the tasting room we’ll be happy to show you around, taste you through our wines and tell you what we’re up to. We are also proud to have our wines sold in a number of shops and restaurants in the Reno area! We will have a comprehensive list of where our wines can be found soon, as this is changing rapidly as we write this. We hope to see you soon!