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Booze crawl to honor late Las Vegas Distillery founder George Racz

A “booze crawl” planned for 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday in the Henderson Booze District will be a benefit for the family of the late George Racz, owner and founder of the Las Vegas Distillery, who died Nov. 18 at age 51.

Racz, a native of Hungary, had emigrated to New York and earned a degree in filmmaking at Hunter College when he and his wife, Katalin, became interested in a small craft distillery in upstate New York and decided they wanted to do the same thing. They researched states without craft distilleries — Nevada was one — and founded their company in 2008, while still living in New York. Upon moving to Southern Nevada, Racz met the late Charlie Peters, who had founded the Grape Expectations school of winemaking (now also affiliated with Vegas Valley Winery).

“He was my hero,” Racz said in an interview in 2015. “He pioneered his industry also.”

What Racz meant was that Peters formulated the legislation that would legalize his style of winemaking in Nevada. Racz would do the same thing with distilling, in 2009 writing legislation that Gov. Brian Sandoval signed into law in 2013.

“He was superclose to Charlie,” said Peters’ widow, Patty.

In the early stages of their friendship, Racz’s suspicions were raised when Peters told him of the formidable obstacles he was facing.

“That’s what sets George apart from so many people,” Patty Peters said. “He came back to Charlie and said, ‘I thought you were trying to sabotage me, and I found out everything you said was true.’ From that moment on, they absolutely adored each other.”

Racz established his distillery in the Harsch Henderson Commerce Center in 2011. When Peters decided to expand, Racz persuaded him to move near him. Breweries started trickling in and the Henderson Booze District was born.

Sunday’s event will start at Vegas Valley Winery, where participants will get wristbands and a glass of wine, and then move on to Astronomy Aleworks, CraftHaus Brewery and Bad Beat Brewing for a craft beer at each. It will end at the distillery for a shot of Ambros Banana Whiskey, live music, food trucks and more. Tickets are $35 at eventbrite.com; all proceeds will go to the Racz family, which also includes son George Jr. The Booze District is near the intersection of Eastgate and Warm Springs roads in Henderson, just east of U.S. Highway 95.

Patty Peters said if her late husband and Racz are together in heaven, “It’s a lot of fun.”

“I have never met anybody who was so positive about life and positive about the future,” she said of Racz. “He just wanted to follow his dream, no matter what.

“The world should never lose people like George. Never.”

Contact Heidi Knapp Rinella at Hrinella@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0474. Follow @HKRinella on Twitter.

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