Q&A Tuesday: Sauvignon! A winery realizes its dreamPhoto:4133619,left;Photo:4133619,left;
Kathy Halbardier, co-owner of the Tahoe Ridge Winery & Marketplace, is changing Nevada’s landscape.
Halbardier, 47, founded the Genoa-based winery with her husband, Rick. They are joined by Roger and Gail Teig of the Van Sickle Station Ranch.
The Halbardiers moved to Douglas County in 1990 to design and build their own home. They also planted a research vineyard with 18 types of wine grapes in their back yard.
Full development of the Halbardiers’ property will continue over the next 10 years. The winery will be an 18,000-square-foot structure featuring a production facility capable of handling 25,000 cases, along with a great hall, a grand chai (select barrel room), a library and laboratory. The winery’s tasting room is at 2285 Main St. in Genoa.
In addition to the winery, Halbardier works for the Nevada Small Business Development Center as an economic development specialist.
What did it take to become Nevada’s first full-production winery?
Passion, a lot of research and determination. We were up against a lot of factors, such as weather and the industry itself is new in the state. We had to deal with legislative changes and agricultural changes. We didn’t let the hurdles discourage us and we stayed with the dream.
How much did you and your partners invest in the winery to get it started?
My husband and I self-funded the project until last year. The tasting room is doing very well. It was thousands of dollars to get to the point where we could put a project together where we could bring on investors.
What makes your operation unique?
I think it’s all the various components. It’s a “Made in Nevada” product and in uncharted waters. Through research, we’ve done the first winery in Nevada. We are the first in the state to make wine with fruit grown in the state.
You have growers in five different Nevada counties. What makes Nevada grapes different?
The stress the vines go through. We have a cool climate and that’s one of the things we have spent the most time on, experimenting with different wine varieties to see what would grow in the state of Nevada. First we had to find different varieties that could withstand cool Nevada climates. Then after eight to 10 years what kind of wine it makes and how it ages over time. It wasn’t a no-brainer.
When people think of Nevada, they think of desert, not grape vines, how do you reconcile that with those who love wine from the traditional wine countries?
It was very interesting. Two or three years ago an article came out in USA Today that said the last states to develop some sort of wine industry was the Dakotas. What we have found is that people have a hard time trying to grow the grapes because they don’t think there is enough water to feed the vine. But the truth is the vines take very little water. We came out of drought-ridden Southern California and thought it’d be a good crop here because of its water efficiency. They are drier wines, but there is a lot of things you can do in the process to enhance them.
What varieties of grapes do you plant? What varieties of wine does this produce?
We buy a lot of traditional chardonnay, syrah, cabaret and zinfandel. But we also buy unique grapes that are “blenders,” such as malbec, petite verdot, merlot, sauvignon blanc, muscat canelli and semillon.
There has been some publicity about the declining popularity of French wines in America. What do you think is responsible?
I think you have an abundance of wine being made in a lot more areas. Wine is made in all 50 states. California, Oregon and Washington wines have come into maturity and are being received.
What do you drink at home?
Halbardier: I absolutely love our sauvignon blanc.
I am a huge seafood lover. So, I especially love it with grilled salmon out on the patio now that the weather is going to get warm.