Basin and Range is a micro-production winery, sourcing all of our fruit from a single vineyard- our 9 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 combine to produce small lots of rustic unfiltered wines of unrivaled quality in these varietals. 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 between them; 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 lobby 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!
Later that winter the vineyard was acquired- 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 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 a mean elevation of 5049’!
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 and fungicides 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 of dense fruit and in the fall we trim back to canopy a bit to expose the fruit to more sunshine. That’s it. This is low intervention farming where we let the fruit be the fruit.
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 wine is 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.
We are a micro-production facility and don’t distribute, which allows us to offer these wines at lower prices. With Nevada State laws against self-distributing, this also means that the tasting room is the only place to buy them, so come pay us visit. We’ll be happy to show you around, taste you through our wines and tell you what we’re up to. We hope to see you soon!