Home > Entertainment > Food > Local winery finds success on Fourth Street

Local winery finds success on Fourth Street

By ThisIsReno
Published: Last Updated on

By Bev Stenehjem

Wine lovers rejoice – for the first time in history, Reno has a budding wine industry. Since 2015, three new wineries within downtown’s bustling brewery district have opened for business.

I caught up with Mike Steedman and Alynn Delisle, co-owners of the very first commercial winery in Reno: Nevada Sunset Winery. 

Mike Steedman and Alynn Delisle. Image: Bev Stenehjem
Mike Steedman and Alynn Delisle.
Image: Bev Stenehjem

Steedman and Delisle met while participating in a wine program at the University of Nevada, Reno back in 2015. The program, called “Adopt a Vine” provided students the opportunity to manage a small portion of a vineyard for a couple of years. The two not only learned a lot about growing grapes, but they also became fast friends and decided to open a winery together.

Their comfort level with each other is obvious.

“We thought it would be fun and glamorous,” said Steedman. Then with a grin, Delisle piped up, “Thought? We weren’t thinking at all! It may be fun, but it’s not so glamorous.”

But before any winery could begin, Steedman needed to overcome an old, outdated liquor law on Nevada’s books. He explained, “Nevada prohibited commercial wineries within counties that contained populations of more than 100,000.”

For two years, Steedman, along with a few other committed citizens, worked closely with the state’s legislature to change the law.

In 2017 the doors of Nevada Sunset Winery opened. There are two other wineries under the same roof, sharing costs as well as space.

“It’s a great business model; we each pay a third of the rent and share the large wine-making equipment,” Steedman offered. “And customers can sample a wide range of wines from the different wine makers.”

With an extensive wine-tasting menu, there is something for everyone. The list of Nevada Sunset wines include a sparkling, four whites, a Grenache rose, six reds and a late harvest.

Mike Steedman uncorks one of Nevada Sunset Winery's reds.
Mike Steedman uncorks one of Nevada Sunset Winery’s reds. Image: Bev Stenehjem

“We are limited in the kinds of grapes that will grow in Nevada due to the lack of ‘frost-free’ days and a short grape-growing season,” said Steedman. “But that being said, there are plenty of grape varietals that do thrive in Nevada’s climate. These grapes include German varietals such as Gewurztraminer and Riesling. Other varietals that do well here are hybrids such as Frontenac, La Crosse and St. Croix. And certain clones of Chardonnay, Malbec, Cab Franc and Merlot also do pretty well in Nevada.”

When it comes to running their winery, Steedman’s college degrees in botany, ecology and biology are a perfect complement to Delisle’s MBA. While both share equally in the making of their wine, there is some division of labor. “Alynn is better at paperwork while I tend to be better at taking care of the warehouse,” Steedman said.

The owners’ forward-thinking ideas include “kegging” their wines for restaurants – allowing wines to be poured by the glass while maintaining freshness in any wine remaining in the keg. They are also making wines aged in bourbon barrels. And one of their popular red wines is made from Touriga grapes, a Portuguese varietal that is normally made into Port.

You will find Nevada Sunset Winery at 415 East Fourth Street, with plenty of free parking in front of the winery. Hours are: Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturdays from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. They’re online at http://nevadasunsetwinery.com/

Party notes

My husband and I are lucky to have a big social group that gets together for cocktail theme parties. For instance, we recently attended a party at a friend’s home where their specialty is making Old Fashioneds. Maker’s Mark bourbon, muddled fresh orange and a spoonful of maraschino cherry juice made the usual recipe extra special. Everyone brought an appetizer or dessert to share. It was a great time.

Food & wine pairing

Join the third annual Girl Scout Cookie and Wine Pairing event at Nevada Sunset Winery on March 5, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Check Instagram and Facebook for more details.

Short pour of interest

Did you know that under Nevada’s wine laws, any winery that produces 1,000 cases or more per year must use 25 percent Nevada grown grapes?

Bev Stenehjem

Bev Stenehjem

Bev recently moved to Reno from the Bay Area where she finished out a career in Human Resources and, as a side gig, wrote about the local wineries there in a weekly wine column. She also published a historical photo book, The Wineries of Santa Clara Valley. A self-described wine enthusiast, Bev enjoys discovering the people behind the wine, becoming friends and celebrating good times. Bev is a member of Nevada Vines and Wines and is excited to explore and share Reno’s budding wine industry with our readers.

Related Stories