71°F
weather icon Clear

Wine guy works wonders with vines in desert soil, heat

Imagine sitting by the pool and enjoying a glass of homemade wine in the Las Vegas desert heat. It may sound like a dream made in heaven for some people, but Providence resident Marc Orenstein is hoping to make it a reality.

The wine lover and blogger, better known as The Desert Wine Guy, never thought growing a vineyard in his northwest backyard was possible until he started researching the subject.

“I began researching if it is possible to grow grapes in my own backyard despite the Las Vegas heat, and while researching, I found that cabernet sauvignon grapes like the heat,” Orenstein said. “I figured I could give this a try and pick people’s brains to get information along the way. This has all been done through trial and error.”

The New York native found his passion for wine 20 years ago when he went on a trip to Napa Valley, Calif.

“I found the peace of the vineyards and the wine-tasting environment simply amazing,” Orenstein said.

Orenstein works as a full-time corrections officer for the state.

He chose to create a Desert Wine Guy Facebook page, blog and YouTube channel as a way to unwind after working long hours in the law enforcement field.

In addition to posting wine-related news, Orenstein will occasionally host wine and wine-related giveaways on his Facebook page.

Most wines that Orenstein reviews cost between $7 and $40.

He said his favorite is the Spanish wine Tempranillo.

“A lot of people think that people who enjoy wine are the type that always have their nose up in the air,” Orenstein said. “I created my blog with the belief that wine is for everyone, not just the rich.”

His wife, Robin, does not drink wine, so instead, Orenstein shares his wine-tasting experience with his 4-year-old twin daughters Rachel and Brooklyn. They drink Welch’s grape juice and swirl, sniff and gulp just like their father.

Soon after beginning his blog, he took his passion a step further.

“I wanted to learn how to grow grapes in the desert, but like most people, I thought you couldn’t grow anything except cactus in the Las Vegas soil,” Orenstein said.

To put his belief to the test, he began growing a small garden in his backyard.

He successfully grew tomatoes, peppers, stevia, onions and Thompson seedless grapes.

“He’s always had a green thumb,” his wife said.

As fate might have it, he stumbled on wine grapes at a local plant store in 2013.

“I left the store with around six cabernet sauvignon vines, and that was the start of it,” Orenstein said.

After spending hours moving rocks to expose rich topsoil, Orenstein was on his way to making his dream come true.

The intense desert heat helped the vines grow, and before Orenstein knew it, he had his first grape buds.

From the sauvignon blanc and cabernet sauvignon vines grew Angel and Mirror Image Vineyards, named for his 16-year-old daughter Malia, “who is such an angel and wonderful person,” and his twin daughters.

“Creating these vineyards was kind of like my up-yours to the desert,” Orenstein said. “I hate the desert.”

During his grape-growing experience, the only pest that Orenstein said he has had to deal with is the grape leaf skeletonizer, which, true to its name, was eating the leaves on the vines. This caused the grapes to become exposed to the sun, shrivel up and die.

He began using a natural pesticide but still had to learn about pruning and watering.

“When I discovered YouTube, it opened a whole new world for me,” Orenstein said. “That, mixed with the opportunities I had to meet professionals in the wine industry, gave birth to The Desert Wine Guy.”

He recently purchased a wine-making kit that he plans to test with store-brought wine grapes before using his own.

He believes it will take him three to five years before he can grow enough grapes to make wine.

His family has supported his wine-making efforts despite not sharing his love for wine.

“I think his hobby is cool,” Malia said. “It keeps him busy, and we’re always traveling.”

“Even though I don’t drink wine, I’m here for moral support,” Robin said. “As a family, we enjoy traveling with him to different vineyards. It makes for a good family vacation.”

Orenstein has big plans for the future. He hopes one day to venture into the wine business and own a large vineyard.

“I don’t sell anything. I do this purely for fun,” Orenstein said. “I just think it is awesome that right here in the middle of the desert, there are wine grapes growing and actually thriving.”

For more information, visit thedesertwineguy.com.

To reach North View reporter Sandy Lopez, email slopez@viewnews.com or call 702-383-4686. Find her on Twitter: @JournalismSandy.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Entertainment Videos
Heavier traffic expected from EDC festival attendees
Electric Daisy Carnival attendees began to vacate the Las Vegas Motor Speedway starting before 5 a.m., the majority heading south on Interstate 15.
What it's like to skip the lines and fly by helicopter to EDC
What it's like to skip the lines and fly by helicopter to EDC. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
DJ Steve Aoki visits Las Vegas comic book store
DJ Steve Aoki visits Torpedo Comics in Las Vegas Friday, May 17, 2019, for a signing for his new comic book series "Neon Future." (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Las Vegas Smith & Wollensky opens at The Venetian
After 18 years, the Smith & Wollensky location on Las Vegas’ south Strip closed in 2017, to be re-born two years later with a rib-cutting — instead of a ribbon-cutting — in The Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal)
Colin Cantwell, Creator Of Iconic Star Wars Ships Visits Vegas
Colin Cantwell, who created and designed such "Star Wars" ships as the X-Wing fighter, and Death Star, met fans at Rogue Toys in Las Vegas today. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Beauty & Essex in Las Vegas makes an EDC Wonder Wheel
In honor of the Electric Daisy Carnival, Beauty & Essex at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas makes its Wonder Wheel party-worthy. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Giada talks Vegas Uncork’d
Giada De Laurentiis talks during Aperitivo Hour, a Vegas Uncork'd event, at her Caesars Palace restaurant, Pronto, May 10, 2019. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Scenes from Vegas Uncork’d 2019 on the Las Vegas Strip
The 13th edition of Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appetit brought four days of food, wine, celebrity chefs and parties to town, May 9-12. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Three ingredients Gordon Ramsay can’t live without
Bon Appetit's Andy Baraghani interviews the "Hell's Kitchen" chef during a Vegas Uncork'd event at Caesars Palace, May 11, 2019. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vegas Uncork’d launches wiith bubbles and a blade
Dozens of chefs representing some of the Strip’s top restaurants gathered Thursday at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas to launch the 2019 edition of Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appetit. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bunky the Clown at the clown convention
Bob "Bunky the Clown" Gretton talks about his life as a clown and the Clown Convention which was in Las Vegas at Texas Station this week. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Frying soft-shell crab at Lola’s in Las Vegas
At Lola’s: A Louisiana Kitchen in Las Vegas, soft-shell crab is breaded and fried and served either as an appetizer, po’boy or platter. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
The Stove in Henderson makes Pecan Pie Pancakes
At The Stove in Henderson, chef/partner Antonio Nunez stacks buttermilk pancakes with pecans and dulce de leche and tops them pie crust crumbs. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vinnie Paul remembered at Count's Vamp'd
The late rocker's favorite table at one of his favorite clubs in Las Vegas. (Jason Bracelin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
4DX movie experience at Red Rock
4DX movie experience during a demo reel at Red Rock. (Christopher Lawrence/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
What To Do On May The 4th
There are plenty of events going on May the 4th this year around Las Vegas. Celebrate Star Wars and Comic Book Day all at once. The Rogue Toys, the 501st, Rebel Legion and Millennium Fandom Bar are all hosting fun events to help celebrate your geek-dom. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Water Sports Introduces New Attraction At Lake Las Vegas
Las Vegas Water Sports will debut its new aqua park attraction at Lake Las Vegas Days this weekend. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Making the Space Invader at Greene St. Kitchen in Las Vegas
Lysa Huerta, pastry cook at Greene St. Kitchen at the Palms in Las Vegas, starts with angel food cake, Fruity Pebbles ice cream and strawberry sorbet to create a space creature engulfed in flashing lights and swirling mists. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Pools
The M, Park MGM and NoMad are just a few great pools in Las Vegas. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Jose Andres explains Iberico pork
(Al Mancini/Las Vega Review-Journal)
Inside Life is Beautiful
Craig Asher Nyman explains how Life is Beautiful festival is booked and talks about this year's line-up. (Jason Bracelin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Tattoo'd America Pops Up In Vegas
Tattoo'd America, a new pop-up attraction on the Linq Promenade, had their grand opening Friday. The attraction is dedicate to the culture of tattoos. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Jose Andres gets key to the Strip
Chef Jose Andres was presented with a Key to the Las Vegas Strip and a proclamation declaring April 26 Jose Andres Day in Clark County by County Commissioner Tick Segerblom on Friday. The ceremony took place at his restaurant Bazaar Meat in the SLS Las Vegas. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sadelle’s in Las Vegas makes a grilled cheese with an inverted bagel
Michael Vargas, executive sous chef at Sadelle’s at Bellagio in Las Vegas, inverts an everything bagel and grills it with Swiss, cheddar and Muenster cheeses to make the Inverted Bagel Grilled Cheese. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Learn how to make China Poblano's Salt Air Margarita
Learn how to make China Poblano's Salt Air Margarita (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Tattoo'd America invites you to have fun and take pictures
Kassandra Lopez at Tattoo'd America invites you to have fun and take pictures. (Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Prime rib is carved tableside at Lawry’s The Prime Rib in Las Vegas
Dave Simmons, executive chef of Lawry’s The Prime in Las Vegas, which plans special cuts for National Prime Rib Day, demonstrates the restaurant’s service from rolling tableside carving carts. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Making gluten-free pizza at Good Pie in Las Vegas
Good Pie owner/pizzaiola Vincent Rotolo makes his gluten-free pizza.
Rockabilly fans enjoy Las Vegas weather poolside
Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekender runs Thursday, April 18th through Sunday, April 21st with a huge car show on Saturday featuring The Reverend Horton Heat, The Delta Bombers and The Coasters. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Brownie sundae at VegeNation in Las Vegas is completely vegan
Donald Lemperle, chef/owner of VegeNation in Las Vegas and nearby Henderson, NV, makes his sundae with ice cream made with coconut and almond milks, a brownie made with coconut flour and oil and organic sugar and cacao, and fresh fruit. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
THE LATEST
Berkus and Brent create spring line for Living Spaces

Celebrity interior design couple Nate Berkus and Jeremiah Brent are back with another collection for Living Spaces. From French antique-inspired carved feet to geometric marble accents, the line has a range of pieces suitable for the minimalist to the statement-maker.

Myriad products make bathroom remodel fun

Bathroom products have changed in the past 20 to 30 years. So if you’re looking to remodel your old bathroom, shop around for the perfect flooring, cabinets, shower surround, bathtub, sinks, fixture and lighting.

Stay away from heirloom varieties of asparagus

Asparagus usually grows well here, but there are some differences among the varieties. Stay away from heirloom varieties such as Mary Washington because they don’t produce enough spears in any climate.

Shock program rids your pool of yellow algae

If your pool water has gone from clear to yellow, you probably have yellow algae. The pool store will have chemicals to treat the water. When used with super-chlorination, products such as Yellow Out will kill yellow algae.

When accessorizing, start with what you have

Accessories are a simple and inexpensive way to update a room, and there is no long-term commitment. You can change each season, add colors or have fun with a new trend with just a few pieces.

Give your home a fresh coat of paint

The exterior paint on most stucco homes in Southern Nevada is expected to last anywhere from 10 to 15 years before it starts breaking down.

Spray grapevines to control pests

Grapeleaf skeletonizer and grape flea beetle were found in the orchard during the last couple of days. These two pests damage grape leaves but few other plants.