Nevada’s Home Winemakers Learn from Sommelier Comments; Somms “Pleasantly Surprised”

They loved the compliments, but they savored the criticism. A group of mostly amateur Northern Nevada winemakers welcomed honest feedback from a pair of sommeliers on Saturday at a formal evaluation staged by Nevada Grape Growers & Winemakers. Story continues below… 

Above: Stuart Michell checks bottles of wine registered for evaluation on June 26, 2021. Photo: @GrapeBasinNews

Winemakers Dan Shore and Mitchell Stominger sought critique of their wines from sommelier Dani Morris on June 26, 2021. Photo: @GrapeBasinNews

It was not a competition, said NGGW’s Stuart Michell, noting that all entries were labeled with names or logos. The event was designed to offer frank, one-on-one conversations between the winemakers and professionals who tasted their wines.

But the conversations weren’t private. Anyone in the room was able to listen as sommeliers Dani Morris and Gary Steininger used the UC Davis 20-point scoring system to assess the wines. The Davis score compares each wine to other, similarly produced wines of the same varietal.

Don’t be concerned or afraid of what people are going to think,” Michell said. “The whole point of this is, make better wine and have better winemakers.”

The Somms liked Stacy York’s Cabernet blend, which was made with help from husband Terry, pictured here on June 26, 2021. Photo: @GrapeBasinNews.

Morris and Steininger are both wine industry veterans with restaurant backgrounds. Both were pleasantly surprised to find some good wines from Nevada’s amateurs.

Many of these wines I would drink on my own, and purchase,” said Steininger.

We didn’t know what to expect, to be honest,” Morris told GBN, adding that sommelier education tends to focus on the famous wine regions of the world. The two were not aware of Nevada’s thriving wine community.

Dani G. Morris runs Full Glass, a wine education and event company. Morris was “pleasantly surprised” by the wines at an NGGW evaluation on June 26, 2021. Photo: @GrapeBasinNews

NGGW member Stacy York was pleased when one of the somms wanted to take home her Cabernet, dubbed Stacy’s Secret.

Mike Rawson, who hosted the event at his Engine 8 Urban Winery, was the only participant who is engaged in commercial winemaking. Rawson said he welcomes the recommendation to be more experimental.

It’s a chance to improve what you’re currently doing,” he said. “ Don’t be afraid to mess with the recipe a little bit here and there, and tweak it.”

Regular professional evaluations are consistent with the NGGW mission of nurturing winemakers and teaching proper vineyard care.
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Sommeliers taste Mike Rawson’s Chardonnay, which is served at his Engine 8 Urban Winery, on June 26, 2021. Photo: @GrapeBasinNews

The group intends to produce three evaluations each year, including the bottled wine evaluation similar to this one each summer. The next two events are planned for November and February, during fermentation season. The November event will be managed by Adam Hand, proprietor of Reno’s Great Basin Winery


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