Not Just a Winery Anymore

As I sit next to Dave Jilbert, owner of Jilbert Winery & Brewery, on a pleasant “Thirsty Thursday” evening, it was easy for me to see that his attention wasn’t solely focused on me for the purpose of our meeting. Instead, Dave’s eyes were, for the most part, concentrating on his guests to make sure their every need was being taking care of. 

On this particular night, there was a retirement party taking place in the quaint, rustic event area on the upper level above us. If you haven’t been to Jilbert’s Winery and Brewery in Valley City before, he has turned a former dairy barn into a charming site for his winery, pub and event center. Jilbert Winery has been operating and growing steadily since 1999. Dave, a former beekeeper, originally started out producing and selling honey wine only. After that, he ventured into making grape wines, and then about three years ago, he brought in brewmaster Vance Ferrari and began brewing his own craft beers under the brand name of D.J. Malthopper.  

One of the perks of visiting the local businesses we feature in our magazine is to be able to learn about and sample the great products they’ve poured their heart and soul into over the years. After a long day at work, I especially enjoyed the opportunity to unwind, relax and sample a flight of beers that Vance served up in front of me as Dave and I talked about the past, present and future of his business.

“I know that when customers walk through my door, their expectation is that they can just come here to hang out. They can come and play cards, read a magazine, converse with their friends and so on,” Dave says.

Even though most of our conversation that night focused on the growing craft beer side of his business, I did want to know a little more about the wines he sells on-site and retails to the public in stores like the Brunswick Hills Drug Mart. When asked specifically which wine was his bestseller or most popular, Dave said matter-of-factly, “They all sell well. These are our wines, and people love and buy them because they know them. If I had a wine that didn’t sell well, I would get rid of it, but fortunately, I’ve never had to do that.”