FALLON, NV - A revolution is happening in Churchill County. A ranch near Fallon is turning away from traditional farming practices and betting its livelihood on craft spirits.
Frey Ranch is our state's first estate distillery. From ground to glass, it's producing spirits entirely at one facility. The Frey family has been working on it for years, and finally this week, started production of the first grain alcohol. The family had previously distilled brandy from their Churchill Vineyards wine.
The family, old as Nevada itself, made its name farming, transitioned to wine making, and is now focusing on distilling. "It is taking what we have always done, and doing something different out of it," says Colby Frey with Frey Ranch Estate Distillery
Frey Ranch will be Nevada's first estate distillery. That means from grain to fermentation to producing the booze itself, everything will happen on site. "That is how you get the highest quality product, is when you have 100 percent control over everything," said Ashley Frey.
On Tuesday, a ceremonial pouring of the grain. What is now mash will be vodka next month, bottled and ready for purchase. "We're confident that we can make a great product and we really want to get it into stores and get it in the hands of all of our customers," said Ashley Frey.
Vodka is their first spirit, because it is the easiest. Next, they'll focus on more complex spirits. "This is really high in starch, and the reason why you want starch is because starch eventually turns to sugar during the cooking and the mashing process," said Colby Frey.
The Freys plans to turn corn from their field into bourbon. That will take a while, though; after distilling it has to age 3 to 5 years in oak barrels before it is ready for sale. "We're just going to continue to distill a lot of whiskey, bourbon, just anything we can and get it in oak and start aging it," said Ashley Frey.
It will take years to get all the spirits into stores, but that does not worry the Freys. They've been farming Nevada land for 150 years and they are not leaving anytime soon. "We're farmers first. If we couldn't grow our own grains, we would not be distilling. Our whole idea is that we want to grow stuff and then we want to take and make something out of the stuff that we grow," Colby Frey says.
Here's an idea of the full circle this process takes. They grow the grain, they distill with it, and what is left goes to local cows. The manure is then used to fertilize the fields and start the whole process over again.
They Frey's say only about 10% of the grain grown on their property will be turned into spirits.
The Frey Ranch is holding a release party for its vodka on October 11th. For more information, 'like' Frey Ranch Estate Distillery on Facebook.