May Magazines 2018 89138 - 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 partners 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 .
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