Nevada winemaker hopes for business growth in 2022

Overhead view of Greg Ross’ vineyard above the Walker River in southern Douglas County.

Overhead view of Greg Ross’ vineyard above the Walker River in southern Douglas County. Photo: Greg Ross

Douglas County vintner Greg Ross is hoping 2022 will be a good year for his Walker River Estate wines.

Five of Ross’ wines recently medaled in the U.S. National Amateur Wine Competition, including a gold medal for a 2020 Frontenac Blanc named best in class that he produced with grapes grown in nearby Smith Valley.

received gold medals for his 2020 vintage 50 Shades of Green Gruner Veltliner and his Bulldog White Ribolla Gialla. The haul wrapped up with a silver medal for his 2020 Frontenac Noir Bulldog Red and a bronze for a 2-19 Zweigelt Bulldog Red.

The best-in-class gold medal was for a wine he made with grapes grown on the Nuti 6 N Ranch in Smith Valley, the only of the winning vintages he didn’t grow himself.

Having spent years as an amateur, Ross is ready to start going pro and is working to make 2022 the year when he can start to legitimately sell the wine he produces from the grapes he grows on his property in far eastern Douglas County.

Greg Ross holds two of his 2017 wines, made from grapes grown, pressed and bottle in Wellington. Photo: Kurt Hildebrand


He said he is in talks with the county to permit his operations.

“I asked for paperwork to permit the property and it runs 48 pages,” he said. “I asked for the same thing from Lyon County where there’s a building I can rent in Wellington. The same paperwork is eight pages long.”

Ross isn’t interested in being open to the public but would like to sell his wine.

“I want to be able to legitimately sell my wine,” he said. “I don’t want to be open to the public. I just want to be left alone to make my wine and bottle it.”

He estimated the wine would cost around $30 a bottle and that he would make 200-300 cases a year at the most.

“I’m not looking for wine tastings,” he said. “I’d like people who are visiting and who want to buy some so that I can legally sell it. One way or the other, I’ll be legit in 2022.”

Ross and his wife Susan purchased 
the property on a hill above the Walker River in 2011 and he planted 25 vines to see whether they would thrive.

By 2018, he was up to more than 700, and he hasn’t seen significant frost damage.

He has been involved in wines and making since 1975 and received his first gold medal in 1985.

He hopes to prove both to himself and others that you can grow something in Douglas County besides alfalfa.

Ross would not be the first vintner to try a hand in Douglas County.

Tahoe Ridge Winery started out on the Van Sickle property south of Genoa. Most of the wine they produced early on was from grapes imported from California mixed in with some grown in Western Nevada.

However, the project transitioned to a restaurant where the wine could be sold, first opening in Genoa in 2003 and then moving to Minden in 2009 before closing in 2015 to combine production and retail operations in Carson City. The Carson City restaurant closed the following year.

But timing may be on Ross’ side. Climate scientists have predicted warmer temperatures may make grape growing more difficult in California, while cooler regions like Western Nevada may come into their own.

In January 2015, Scientific American published an article indicating that it’s possible Carson Valley is warming to the point where it will be more hospitable to wine grapes.

Later that year, UNR Professor Grant Cramer said that he was already seeing it with the university’s grape growing, adding that over the previous 15 years, the vines were maturing faster.


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