GENOA -- The historic Van Sickle Ranch in Douglas County will be home to the first large-scale winemaking facility in Northern Nevada, the vision of husband-and-wife team Rick and Kathy Halbardier.
The owners of Tahoe Ridge Vineyards and Winery Inc. are leasing 57 acres of the 660-acre ranch, owned Roger and Gail Teig, to build the complex.
A 150-year-old barn will be renovated for a tasting room, and the 20,000-square-foot winery will be built to match the nearby barn. Plans also include a museum, guest cottages, gardens, cottages for arts and crafts, and a cooking school.
The Van Sickle Ranch sits against the slopes of the Sierra Nevada, with a commanding view of the Carson Valley to the east.
The first vineyards, between seven and 15 acres, will lie on those slopes. A new cold-resistant hybrid called chardonelle, a grape that produces a wine similar to a chardonnay, is just one of the varietals to be tested.
"I have a real passion for this project." Rick Halbardier said. "This is a new industry for Nevada. This will be destination resort and a new industry for the state. The whole region will benefit, not just Douglas County."
The privately funded project is expected to cost millions and take about three years to complete. Construction should start in 2004, with the winery and vineyards the first priority, Rick Halbardier said.
The couple will share the working portion of the ranch with Domingo and Nick Uhart, who lease much of the property for 600 head of black Angus and Hereford cattle.
The Teigs, who live on the property, have restored and preserved the 157-year-old ranch, and they hope the combination of businesses can sustain the property economically. They believe the winery will add economic diversity and build a stable revenue source.
"Cattle have graced the ranch for close to 150 years," said Roger Teig. "We want to preserve the cattle operation, the buildings and the historic heritage for 150 years into the future."
The Halbardiers think the location is close to ideal.
"We could have acquired a building anywhere, but we wanted to find the right match for Tahoe Ridge," Rick Halbardier said. "We've been looking for 10 years."
"Here, we can combine production with our tasting room," Kathy Halbardier said. "But the key factor is the barn. It needs a lot of cosmetic work, but it's structurally sound. The barn can be used as it stands. That's what drove this project."
Construction of the winery should take about seven months. The Halbardiers expect to crush their first grapes in the fall of 2004.
Rick Halbardier graduated from the International Wine Academy in San Francisco in 1994. At the University of California, Davis, School of Fermentation Sciences, he studied enology (winemaking) and viticulture (growing grapes.)
He was a winemaker at Domain De Napa winery in the Napa Valley, Lava Cap winery in the Sierra foothills and Truckee River Winery in Truckee, all in California, before moving to Minden in 1990.
Kathy Halbardier became the director of career service for the College of Business Administration at the University of Nevada, Reno, in 1991 and completed her master's degree in 1993, specializing in entrepreneurship. She has more than 20 years of private-sector industry experience,in banking and finance, software/hardware development and project management.