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Schedule for grape stompers filling fast and plans for renovation projects moving forward

Timing is everything and for Pahrump Valley Winery everything has fallen into place just in time for the annual Grape Stomp.

The once-open veranda of Symphony’s Restaurant has been enclosed and due to the recent purchase of an additional 10 acres behind the winery, a new parking lot will be ready for the swarms of people who attend Grape Stomp every year.

During the two-day event, cars fill the parking lot and spill onto both sides of Winery Road making it difficult to maneuver in traffic.

Owner Bill Loken said, “We needed to get the cars off of the street.” The popular event draws over 3,000 visitors every year.

Grape Stomp is set for Saturday, Oct. 4 and Sunday, Oct. 5. Gates will open at 11 a.m. and general admission is $5.

Loken said he already has 30 vendors selling everything from jewelry and paintings to sno-cones. No non-winery food or alcohol vendors will be allowed. The winery’s restaurant will be making food for its own booth and Loken said, “we’ll also be having our huge wine sale while supplies last.”

He said the wines offered need to move in order to make room for the new releases in November.

The stomp itself is almost completely booked. “Saturday’s stomp has been filled for weeks and there are very few spaces left for the event on Sunday.”

Gretchen Loken said only 10 percent of the “stompers” are local. “We have people come from Las Vegas, California and other states to participate, but most of the vendors are local.”

Grape Stomp information, cost and registration information is available at pahrumpvalleywinery.com.

People familiar with the winery’s label brands will notice the Loken and Villa Blanca labels are gone and have been replaced with Charleston Peak.

Loken said the winery will keep local favorites, such as Symphony and Desert Blush under the Pahrump Valley Winery label. All wines produced solely from Nevada-grown grapes will be bottled as Nevada Ridge.

The new vintage releases will be Nevada Ridge wines and include syrah, zinfandel, barbera, primo tivo, tempranillo and silver state red.

Loken said the primo tivo won a double gold last year and has proved to be a best seller. “I even tried raising the price to slow down the sales,” Loken said. “It just kept flying off of the shelf.

“Imagine how surprised the judges were to find they had awarded both a gold and a best of show to the same wine.” Tastings are blind, meaning the judges have no idea what wine is in the bottle until they taste it.

The winery is also bottling olive oil for the first time ever.

“The grower we have in Amargosa planted 1,000 olive trees as an experiment several years ago at School Lane Vineyards. This year, we harvested for the first time.”

He said the olives were lightly crushed at a facility in California and shipped back to the winery for “filtering through cheesecloth” before bottling.

“We sent samples to a non-profit organization in California that does nothing but taste and grade olive oil to get feedback on the finished product,” said Loken. “They were impressed and graded it at a low-A.” Loken said another 1,000 trees were planted this year.

“Out of 1,000 trees, we’re only getting about 500 bottles because the olives aren’t being heavily processed.”

The olive oil is for sale at $19.95 per bottle.

The wine sale is a huge attraction as Bill said, “We’re cutting the prices and it will be across the board for the wines we offer. He refused comment on which varieties will be on sale saying, “I can’t tell you. We haven’t fully decided yet.”

The music will be different this year. Loken said, “You need to change things up … offer something different.”

More room for those wanting to sample the restaurant’s food can be seated simultaneously as phase 1 of planned renovations were completed about two weeks ago.

The now enclosed veranda doubled the seating capacity of Symphony’s Restaurant and another banquet room capable of seating parties of up to 20 adjoins it at the rear. The expansive views have been preserved with huge windows and a complicated heating and cooling system keeps the area temperate during all kinds of weather.

Loken said the original plans for screened openings below the windows “just wasn’t going to work. This system works so smoothly, there is no more than two degrees difference from one end of the veranda to the other.”

The remainder of the 10 acres purchased last fall will be used to not only provide a large parking area, but will also have a new warehouse. Loken said there are plans to subdivide a portion of the property for a small community of luxury homes.

“We also have plans to totally revamp the landscaping and we have someone working on those plans now.”

He said the new outdoor venue will offer a huge outdoor barbecue and a bigger stage with state-of-the-art sound and lighting systems.

“We want to be able to offer wedding facilities and carry those events through to rehearsal dinners and receptions.”

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