The silo building of the old Minden Flour Milling Co. may soon be one of Nevada’s first craft distilleries.
Christopher Bently, the building’s owner, plans to transform the Highway 395 landmark into a distillery making bourbon, gin and other spirits out of ingredients produced solely in Carson Valley, including grain grown at Bently Ranch.
The craft distillery, one of the first to be licensed under a new law passed by the 2013 Nevada Legislature, is part of a bigger plan for several properties owned by Bently in downtown Minden.
In April, Bently Enterprises is moving its headquarters and 30 employees to the Farmer’s Bank building on Esmeralda Avenue after the building is renovated. Bently also is working to relocate current tenants of the creamery building behind it in order to convert the properties into retail space, according to Steve Mokrohisky, Douglas County manager.
All this should help pave the way for Chris Bently’s dream of bringing the V&T Railroad back to Minden, Mokrohisky said at the 19th annual Critical Business Conference hosted by the Business Council of Douglas County at the Carson Valley Inn on Thursday.
“The railroad would be a game changer,” said Mokrohisky.
Bently’s efforts to revitalize Minden and turn it into an attractive destination for train enthusiasts were discussed as some of the first concrete steps in the Douglas County Valley Vision plan, which was unveiled at the meeting.
The plan, presented by Design Workshop and based on a three-day community workshop held in the spring, outlines a broad set of goals for the 25-acre Carson Valley in the next 20 years.
The plan comprises 13 principles in four categories, environment, economics, community and art, said Eric Roverud, an associate with the Stateline land planning group that produced it. Overall, the goal is to create jobs and economic growth while both taking advantage of and protecting the area’s history and natural resources.
Some of the ideas presented included additional trails and outdoor events, tourist attractions such as a Carson River ranch where visitors could get a taste of the Old West, a medical health and wellness destination, possibly attached to an active adult community development, and pedestrian-friendly downtowns for Minden and Gardnerville, similar to recently redone Genoa.
The idea is to grow the economy by attracting new businesses, tourists and retirees.
Mokrohisky said the next step is to present the plan to the town boards of both Minden and Gardnerville and the Douglas County Board of Commissioners, and for them to sign onto a joint resolution supporting and committing to fund the concepts. After that, the entities will begin to prioritize projects, he said.
“It’s important to talk about dreams and visions,” said Mokrohisky. “People get excited and you start to create momentum.”
The county is counting on Bently’s extensive plans be part of a catalyst.
The plan to convert the silo building is moving along, according to Susan Carbiener, director of operations at Bently Enterprises. A structural engineer has evaluated the building and the project is applying for the needed permits, including zoning and liquor licenses. Matt McKinney, general manager, Bently Ranch, said the first seeds were arriving soon for the winter rye that would be planted and harvested next summer to make the spirits.
The distillery is still in the planning stages, but it may also include a café. It will be operated by Nevada Heritage LLC, owned and established by Bently.
“This is Chris’s vision,” said Carbiener. “He’s a huge supporter and wants to honor agriculture and the building’s history.”
The V&T project is farther down the road and would entail acquiring right-of-ways from some landowners and raising financing for the project, said Mokrohisky.
The presentation on the vision plan can be found online at www.carsonvalleynv.org.