J. Carver Distillery

We stepped into J. Carver Distillery on Friday evening, May 29th, and discovered a whole new world.  Gina Holman, co-founder of J. Carver Distillery, was celebrating the Grand Opening of their Tasting Room.  Hi, Gina.

David Holman of Victoria — husband of Gina and father to their four children, greeted us at the door.  What is his role in the operation?  “I lick labels and try to get them on the bottles straight,” he said.  Hi, Dave.

Gina is pictured in the production room with “New Boss” and “Old Boss,” as she says.  Bill Miller, left, is founding partner of J. Carver Distillery.  Allan is on the right.  In addition to being Manager of Operations at J. Carver Distillery, Gina is also the hostess with the mostess.  That has been Gina’s role since we first met at the Victoria House about 20 years ago where she served with such fun and flair that Allan, City Manager of Wayzata at the time, hired her away to become Manager of the Wayzata Muni.

It was only in recent times that Gina was enticed by Bill Miller of Lester Prairie to help lay the foundation for J. Carver Distillery and build it from the ground up.  Actually, there wasn’t even ground at the beginning.  It didn’t have a location nor a name, only a seedbed of entrepreneurial ideas that would distill into the finest spirits available for those who enjoy a cocktail.

The location of J. Carver Distillery is a 17,000 square foot building on the west edge of Waconia that used to be home to the Valley Pontiac car dealership.  It was almost too big to consider for this re-purposing but now, says Gina, “We’ve used up all the space and we can’t imagine being anywhere smaller.”  Tim Forcier of Victoria was the general contractor on the large and amazing renovation project.  There is a special room for oak barrels, all of them made in Minnesota.

As Gina gave us a personal tour of the spacious facility, it was evident that she has become knowledgeable about each of the many processes taking place at the Distillery.

Gina is proud that the grain used in making spirits at J. Carver Distillery are locally grown in Minnesota.

J. Carver Distillery has everything in their facility that is required to go from the very beginning to the very ending of making fine spirits, and that means loading and grinding grain.

How did Gina (pictured here with Gregg Groechel, a partner at the Distillery) go from singing around the world as a young member of “Up With People” to being co-founder of a multi-million dollar operation?  The effervescent and generous personality credits her Old Boss at Wayzata.  She said Allan placed a confidence in her that she could do anything.  As Manager of Wayzata Wine and Spirits, Gina learned what was on the shelves, what should be on the shelves, what went off the shelves.  She went through the design and construction of the impressive new Wayzata Muni and learned the trade and building language. She studied to become a Certified Sommelier, a prestigious industry credential.  She advised customers on purchases and wine pairings and came to know her spirits.

There are spirits at J. Carver Distillery that can’t be bottled, but you can feel them.  And you can now taste the spirits that are being bottled, in the Tasting Room, a warm but stately lounge where Gina chose the fancy tiles and quality décor.  Randy Matheson of Victoria built the outstanding bar that has features and cabinetry you won’t even find in Bar Beautiful.  Read all about the spirits being distilled at www.jcarverdistillery.com. 

Love, Sue

The public is invited to sign up for a tour and look for J. Carver Distillery labels everywhere.  David does not really lick the labels onto the bottles.  Promise.