50 Years In, Carson Valley Country Club Celebrates Its Tradition & Future

Posted By on May 12, 2015

by Joey Crandall, joey@carsonvalleytimes.com

GARDNERVILLE, Nev. – 50 years ago this Sunday, a hand plow and team of oxen broke the ground for the Carson Valley Country Club and golf course – the first of its kind in Douglas County.

At the time, it was billed by the local newspaper as the “largest barn-raisin’ celebration since the original fort was put up at Genoa.”

In the years since, the property has collected more than its fair share of stories, developing its own tradition with several new faces along the way coming in to build on the experience of those that came before.

Photo provided by the Carson Valley Country Club.

Photo provided by the Carson Valley Country Club.

“This cottonwood was planted by the previous owners,” said Norbert Koblitz, gesturing out the back patio of the restaurant toward a towering tree. Koblitz purchased the restaurant with two partners 12 years ago and then bought his partners out three years later.

He paused, then chuckled.

“That must have been 40 years ago.”

The changes have been many since the initial ground breaking.

“When it first opened, it was a real country club,” Koblitz said. “There was a sauna, which was way ahead of its time, and tennis courts. And a pool.”

There were shuffleboard courts and horseshoes as well. Only the horseshoes still remain.

The country club was open all of five years before Helen Chappell and her family purchased the restaurant and reopened with a Basque theme, according to an article by Sharon DeCarlo on the property’s history in Horse Tales earlier this year.

It was another five years before Jesus Rey and Carlos Iribarren purchased the restaurant and carried on the Basque tradition. Koblitz and his partners came onto the scene in 2003.

The years have brought with them some scars as well.

“You can open electrical outlet and still find sand from the flood,” Koblitz said, referring to the New Year’s Flood of 1997. “This building had two feet of water in it.”

The wind storm earlier this year ripped off large portions of the roofing over the bar, along with some of the duct work.

“That was one of those things that turned out really well,” restaurant manager Donica Trujillo said. “We’d always had problems with the heating and cooling in here. We to replace the duct work, so it is much better now.”

Earlier this year, the Carson Valley Country Club Restaurant & Bar, long since subdivided from the Carson Valley Golf Course, enjoyed something of a relaunch, keeping the traditions established by Chappell, Rey and Iribarren and infusing them with some of Koblitz’s German roots.

It became a matter of expanding upon the tradition without wiping it outDonica Trujillo, Carson Valley Country Club Restaurant Manager


“It became a matter of expanding upon the tradition without wiping it out,” said Trujillo. “Nortbert didn’t make any changes for a really long time, but the fact of it was peoples eating habits were changing. The Valley is changing.

“We saw the bar getting busier and busier and the dining room was getting less busy, and the only different between the two was it was a different menu.”

So, Koblitz, inspired by a recent trip to Germany, set about adding some new flavors to the old menu.

Photo provided by the Carson Valley Country Club

Photo provided by the Carson Valley Country Club

“We added appetizers, added a bunch of new entrees,” Trujillo said. “The Basque was becoming too much food for people. So we set it up where you could order your entree, which comes with potatoes au gratin and you vegetable, and you could add the Basque option, which is the full on stew, French fries, beans, coffee, everything.

“The point we really try to get across is that it’s the same food, but in a different format. There are different ways to do the exact same thing you’ve always been able to do here. But there are some things you can’t find anywhere else in the Valley.”

Trujillo noted the venison ragout, the duck breast and the buffalo short ribs (buffalo the animal, not the style), specifically.

“It’s more of a rustic twist,” she said. “More of a throwback to Norbert’s roots. That’s what he wanted to bring in. We’re still a Basque restaurant. But with some updates.”

The country club has also upped it involvement on the catering side, hosting social groups, events and weddings.

“We’ve gotten to where we can host 175-200 people for a wedding,” Trujillo said. “We have two large banquet rooms, we have an wonderful outdoor venue. We have a full barbecue menu. There are a lot of options, and we are one of the few places in town where you can call us up with a table to 10 to 15 people and we can accommodate you at almost any time.

“We have the space and the menu to do that.”

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the groundbreaking, Carson Valley Country Club is having a celebration with live music, a historical slide show and dinner specials running at $15.50++ per person. Reservations are highly recommended.

“The stories we hear from the people that have been coming here for years and years are incredible,” Trujillo said. “We’ve had two bartenders with us for 20 years plus, so there is a lot of familiarity in the place.

“It’s just a great place.”

The Carson Valley Country Club Restaurant & Bar is located at 1029 Riverview Drive in Gardnerville. For more information, or for reservations, call 775-265-3715.