May Magazines 2018 89135 - Page 44

At the time, the closest commercial vineyard was hundreds of miles away in northern Nevada. But that wasn’t going to stop the man known as Doctor Gehring. “Roger is a true pioneer,” says Bill Loken, the owner of Nevada Wine Cellars in Pahrump, which part- ners with Gehring harvesting his grapes for their wines. For Roger, “This was a complete leap of faith,” says Loken. “There was nothing out there. But the last thing you want to tell Roger is that he can’t do something. It’s just not in his nature. He’s going to do it anyway.” Gehring couldn’t understand why California had so many wineries and southern Nevada had none. So he visited wineries in Paso Robles to study how things were done. In the end, his teachers were not encouraging. “We’ll sell you everything you need,” they told him. “But you’re going to be all by yourself out there.” Indeed, it was Roger Gehring’s one-man show. The vineyard-to-be started off as a weekend project. After all, Gehring was still working for the school district. His wife wanted nothing to do with the Amargosa Valley land and would wave her husband off each Saturday to go pursue his pipe dream in the desert. And the dream grew, piece by piece. First, Gehring ringed his stake with 600 Mondale pine trees as a wind break and as property markers, amazing his golf buddies with tales of his progress. “Are you going to build an expensive house out there?” One asked. “No,” Gehring answered. “I’m going to live in a metal shed.” “I’d like to see that,” the friend said. Soon afterward, Gehring saw a large metal structure for sale in Green Valley. He bought it, had the shed dismantled and rebuilt in the desert. He still laughs at the venture: “I do everything the hard way.” Slowly, he went to work on the land. He planted 40 acres of alfalfa as a way to keep his water rights. He eventually planted five acres of grapes. His first harvest was in 2005, when he produced 10 tons of grapes. Last year, the same five acres produced nearly 30 tons.