Catch Montana Neiley on the #PirateBroadcast™
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[00:00:00] Introduction: Welcome to the #PirateBroadcast™, where we interview #interestingpeople doing #interestingthings. Where you can expand your connections, your community, #kindnessiscool and #smilesarefree. Let’s get this party started.
[00:00:10] Russ Johns: And welcome to the #PirateBroadcast. Hey, I just want to remind everybody that is giving Tuesday today. And it's the last day in November. Tomorrow's December. And so reach out to somebody you haven't talked to for awhile, let them know you're thinking about them and extend the kindness for the month of December because it's the holiday season and we have. Montana in the room. She's going to be talking about wine today. Welcome to the #PirateBroadcast. You're now a pirate.
[00:00:38] Montana Neiley: Thank you. Good morning. I feel part of the crew.
[00:00:41] Russ Johns: You are part of the crew. You don't have to feel that way. You are a part of the crew. It's you'll come a board, have a party. And it's all about kindness and sharing great wisdom and wit, and the thing that we want to share today is some of the things that you've learned in the last number of years. As you became a wine Somalia and the wine industry in Colorado, we were talking before the show. And so for those that don't know you yet give us a snapshot of who Montana is and what you're up to these days.
[00:01:12] Montana Neiley: So I grew up here in Colorado, which is not a wine growing region, so it's a blessing in disguise because we're located in the middle of the country. We get a lot of cool wine coming through here from other places where if you're from an area that grows wine, then a lot of times the wines that you experience are from that area. So we do have a wine growing area. We were talking about that a little bit before we started the live, but for the most part it's cool stuff from all over the world. So I got exposed to a lot of different wines from young age. I went to school here in Denver. I grew up in the mountains. But I came down to Denver to go to design school. I went to the art Institute of Colorado and I had a dream of designing restaurants. I've always had a thing for hospitality and serving people and I love that interaction with with the experience, and then I graduated from college at the height of the great recession and. Got a job working for an architect as a drafts person drawing. Cause I just come out of school. So I knew all the hot new technology in the architectural world. They put me to work and I got carpal tunnel at the age of 21 and I was like, not very happy. So it was not designing. Restaurants will tell you that much, but it was a very respectable job for where I was in my career, but I wasn't that happy. So I left in, I started bartending and teaching yoga and that made my parents super high. They were like awesome job in the field and went to go do that. It was awesome. Great. So anyway, I did, I made drinks for people for a couple of years and and that's how I think a lot of people in the wine business, their story starts, you work in a restaurant or a retail store or something like that. But I started noticing the reps coming in. We were mostly like a cocktail bar, so I'd see like liquor reps, but I thought I could do that because I didn't want to be at the bar too. 3:00 AM. It was fun in my early twenties and I was making a lot of money and stuff, but not the healthiest lifestyle. So I started seeking a job in the wine industry. I wanted to become a wine rep. I would roll around talking to anyone that I would meet and be like, Hey, I'm trying to find a job in the wine business. And I think that was one of my first big lessons in. Being vulnerable and telling people what you want, because if you don't tell anybody, no one will ever know. So I just was this young person telling anyone I would meet off the street that I was trying to get a job in the wine business. And of course, eventually it worked. I met this woman randomly at a pool one day and she was like, I know this guy, he just started a distribution company. You should go to work for him. I became a wine rep and down in the Southern part of Colorado, it was a brand new company, lot of war stories of just like being super green and learning and crazy. But I worked for them for about 10 months. Then I was calling on Shanahan steakhouse down south here, and I had crossed paths a number of times with the manager, from another company, which was a bigger portfolio, better portfolio. And they were looking for a rep. So they hired me. And that was like a big upgrade as far as just the company and the portfolio of wine and the learning opportunities. But at the time I was still pretty green. I didn't know a ton about wine, so I was making mistakes and I ran into I've run into a couple of the buyers that I used to call on 10 years ago and being like, oh my God, I'm so sorry about. Cause that was just so silly of me and I didn't know any better and stuff like that because I didn't have any formal education, wine. I was just learning as it went. And I was a rep for about another 10 months or so for that company. And I, like I said, I didn't know that much about wine, but I had a degree in design. So I started redesigning like wine lists for my smaller restaurant customers. I'd make a deal with them. Cause a lot of them didn't know that much about wine either. We were like down in the Southern part of the. So I beg I'll make you a wine list that looks good and matches your, your branding. And then you got to give me some placements, otherwise I'm gonna lose my job. And so that worked for a bit and it came to light with the company. And then, so they changed me from a rep to the creative director. So I was like Montana party of one, doing that for a while. And that job expanded and we started doing. In depth programming with our wineries to bring them to the Colorado marketplace. And I stayed in that job for eight years. Oh, wow. By the time I left, which was at the end of this past June, I was leading a team doing really big, statewide initiatives, all kinds of programming, but I always believed that. The storytelling side of wine should come from the winery. And we were trying to be the translator between the winery and the consumer audience. So I'm with a bittersweet transition. I left that company is still great rapport. Actually. There's one of my customers. But I started my own business, so I started the wine ship. And so I actually referred to him. I'd very much like a piracy of the wine world because we do things a little bit differently. I have seen this need for kind of that, like I said, translation between the winery and the people consuming the wine because through this, the typical structure of the industry, it started this game of telephone. You have a wine. They're telling their story, that to a distributor, maybe it's like a high level manager or maybe a rep or whatever. And maybe those people even went to the winery and had some amazing experience there. And then that person is coming back and they're supposed to tell the restaurant tour or the retail buyer about it and how great it was. And then that person's supposed to tell their staff about it. And then that staff is supposed to convey that message to the consumer. And that story doesn't usually, it doesn't always...
[00:06:14] Russ Johns: It doesn't always translate well.
[00:06:15] Montana Neiley: And the owner of the distribution company used to always say, be the missionaries and we try so hard to do that, now we're in an era of content creation online social media, digital advertising. So what you get on the other end of it is the big companies that, they have the marketing people in the marketing prowess. And the strategy and the money to throw all this content out there at people, they have the money to send samples to influencers. They have the money to hire people to coordinate those programs. They're not even doing it themselves sometimes, and they're creating tons of ads. And just like the big stacks of well-known labels that you see in the retail store. Now, what on social media is like the prisoner wine company, silver Oak, like they see, you see what they want you to see. So I feel that it's super important to bolster a small business community in the wine industry and also in this country. Letting those people make the great wine, those small producers that don't have the budgets necessarily let them make the wine and then introduce those wines to people, but also teach them about wine because some people that are buying silver Oak, they don't know that Cabernet Sauvignon is a So there's this big gap, right? Because you have this,
[00:07:23] Russ Johns: I think you need to start a, your own wine ship program. Just like the pirate broadcasting in white wine. Reese can come on and you can actually talk to them about their process. Absolutely. Absolutely. The get the people involved and educated and share that out.
[00:07:46] Montana Neiley: That's what we're doing. We're recording now. We're we've got about, I've got about four episodes submitted to doing the magical things, because I'm learning about content on this, in this way and trying to get a microphone sorted out and make sure that I'm not rambling.
[00:08:01] Russ Johns: So I want to come back to a couple of points you brought up is the process from the grape to the table is extensive. There's a lot of steps that have to take place. And I know that having had a little bit of experience in some of these areas that. The farm is one skillset, getting the grapes into the bottle, it takes a certain skillset from the, for the bottle to the distribution, is a completely different, the advertising and the media and the design. And just getting it on the wine list is all of these little steps require attention to detail. Where do you now that you've had some experience, where did you stop and say, okay, I'm going to be a wine Somalia because, cause that's a skillset in itself. So how did that come about? Because it's not an easy task.
[00:08:58] Montana Neiley: A little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing, right? So like you get the bug and people that. In the wine business tend to be lifers because it's just something that can be all consuming and not necessarily from just the alcohol perspective, but it would encapsulate so many different aspects of human and nature interaction. And curiosity. Expanded. I was super fortunate to work for a great company who was willing to the owner was willing to fund my EDU my, education in wine. So I started with a program called the, actually, where did I start? I started with the court of master sommelier Hayes, which is the one that you see in the movies and stuff. And they have an introductory program. That's a prerequisite, but I went to Las Vegas by myself and took this two day class. 'cause, I was very at the time and I guess I still am. I was a pretty young woman in the industry. And I feel like. To a degree, we have to know a little bit more than even the average male counterpart, which I don't want to get into all that, but there's I think I would walk into certain accounts and they'd be like, oh God, this girl is not going to know anything about wine. So I felt like I had to make up for being a woman, and learn more. And I think now that I'm older, I don't know if I would have still felt that way, but I did. I was getting into conversations with people that I respected and I didn't feel like I could keep up with them and I wanted to be able to talk shop, and I want it to be able to surprise them with the fact that I had taken the time to educate myself on something that I was becoming very passionate about. So I started with the quartermaster, some liaise went through the introductory program and I was like, oh my God, this is not like the type of content that I'm finding. Super helpful because it was like these masters songs, throwing all this at hundreds of people in this huge conference room in Vegas. And so I backed it up and I found that there's another organization called the wine and spirits education trust. And this is where an organization out of great Britain. And they do some style of education that is much less focused on the service of the wine and more focused on. The regions and the wine making styles and the grapes and that sort of side of it, where where the, similarly a title is very much meaning the wine steward. They're just the person that bring the wine. You don't even have to have a certification. So I did the wine and spirits, education trust poker program. Once I had gotten through that with success. It made sense for me to become a certified sommelier because of the name, people know what that is. So people were constantly asking me, are you a Psalm? And I'd be like, it's a w set thing. And there were like, I don't know what that is. So it just made sense for me also. Yeah. It didn't work. So I was like, I'm going to do the program. So I went through and I was one of, like a various. Percentage. It was like 25 or 20% of the group that passed the exam. I performed the service for master Fred Dame, who was in the movies because I had one of the, there was three masters giving the test. One was a CA a colleague of mine and the other was a customer of mine. So it was a conflict of interest with both of them. So I got the big guy and I'm so glad that I did, because it felt like a big accomplishment, I wouldn't want to pass for a friend. So that, but the why is, just out of respect for my craft, I guess I felt like it was in the end and my colleagues and the wine makers, people that make these wines being able to present them in a formal way is there's a lost art, I think, in the direction of our society. And I think it's a really beautiful thing. And the court of masters has received a ton of. Flack about not being inclusive and all kinds of stuff like that. So I think it's I think it's unfortunate and I think that there's some beautiful things that have come out of that organization as well as some things that suck, but that's true of a lot of things.
[00:12:32] Russ Johns: Yeah. That's the nature of humanity and then there's some things that work and there's some things that don't right. So I want to give a shout out to some of the T the pirates. Good. Good morning, everyone. Yeah he says he gave a Robin a shout out definitely there Michael Baker. Thank you so much in from Florida. Good morning pirates. Amman. Emron. Hello everyone. Thank you so much. Michael says, always seek to understand and serve the need of others. He's got several comments in here, Rob, go back. Jenny Gold. Hello, pirate. And she says Montana she's in Denver as well. So rod to connect yeah. Michael Baker says B being willing to listen, to learn, to become a leader. You have to seek wise counsel and be willing to follow in it. Absolutely. Absolutely. W what works for one may not work for everyone. So Carl's in the house. Good morning, Russ in Montana. Thank you so much for being here, Karl. Appreciate it. So after all these experiences and going through this process part ending art school drafting design, what would you say your super power actually is at this point in time of year?
[00:13:51] Montana Neiley: Oh man. I think that I've always been an innovator if I can't, I will find an unusual way to solve a problem. And I think that's an important and good skill set. I've got a set of pink camp, gallon, pink cans holding up my bed because the base broke, it's like it works and it doesn't need to be complicated. Sometimes the simplest things and something that Michael said, actually that I think is super valuable and true is I was having a conversation with a winemaker recently and he said he's a small business owner too. And I said, do you have any advice for someone like me? And he said surround yourself with people who you respect and who are smarter than you. And I think, great advice, but he's but I'm not done at least send to them, listen to these people because they really do have, that's where it really changes. You can surround yourself with smart people and then if you don't listen to them, then you got nothing. Why did you surround yourself with them in the first place? A lot of times people's ego prevents them from here. People right. And they've surrounded themselves with all these great people and they don't, and they don't listen to them. So that is, I think something that I'm working towards becoming very good at. And I think I do a good job. I'm blessed with a very good team and surrounded by some cool people.
[00:14:56] Russ Johns: Very cool. Very cool. Chris says what's good. Y'all well, Chris, thank you for joining us today. I think. I think that we all have the ability and the opportunity to teach and to learn from each other. So being part of a group that is willing to learn and continue to learn and evolve is so absolutely critical. That's why I love the pirate community. We're all here doing our thing and we're all here to help each other do our thing. And as part of that whole process is an opportunity. To continue to grow, to see a new perspective. Cause my experience in your experience are completely different. However, I suspect if we had a conversation long enough Montana, there's probably threads that will cross paths and some ideas and some concepts that say, oh yeah, I've experienced that same thing. So we're not that different when we really get down to it. There's always a common thread. And I think one thing. I always appreciate. And I've always enjoyed is the environment, going out to a nice meal, having a glass of wine and enjoying company. Good conversation. Come on. What's better than that?
[00:16:12] Montana Neiley: What's better than that? And the education piece is about making, helping people, be empowered on their own to select wine in the restaurant or retail store and something that will go well with their meal and not let it be a point of stress or a point of I don't know what to get, so I just get whatever. And then it just elevates that experience. This was all about is the people coming together and enjoying that together?
[00:16:35] Russ Johns: Do you have a favorite.
[00:16:37] Montana Neiley: Oh, gosh. Am Andy Pete going to laugh at me, but yes, I love DMA. I love Pinot noir. Those always pop to mind. I just am very much a light red wine lover, as long as there's some action going on in the bottle. It's boring, but it's very delicious.
[00:16:55] Russ Johns: It's awesome. So a question, so how refined does your pallet have to be? Differentiate from different types of fruits and flavors and understanding wine. That's a great question. Okay.
[00:17:10] Montana Neiley: That's an awesome question. I think that there, this is part of the thing, right? People get in their mind that it's so hard to tell the difference and I love putting wine into a brown bag and pour it. Something for, porn two wines for someone, because I would say that most of us, even if you don't know what the grape is or what they're called, because the name doesn't matter. It's more about the tasting experience. If I poured for you a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and okay. Russian river valley, California Chardonnay into two different glasses and let you taste them. And you've never had wine before you would be able to tell that they were. And you'd be able to say this one is different from the other one. Even if you didn't have the kind of lexicon in your head about how to describe it, that they're different. And then if you started to call on things that you have had before, that's when we can start to tell that to differentiate like this one, the New Zealand, have you ever had a grapefruit? Have you ever had a jalapeno? Have you ever had any type of citrus fruit? Are you getting that reaction in this idea of your jaw and a pooling under your tongue from the city? Sure those are characteristics of a high acid. What, why Sauvignon Blanc, the Chardonnay? Do you notice? Things like apples and baked stuff from the Oak and a richness from the malolactic fermentation. That's what all those things are. So we can assign the terminology backwards, but you can taste the difference from the outset. Now, I think what he's actually, what game's actually asking though, is like, how do you get to a place where you're not that novice? We've all had one. I think that one of the best things that you can do is tasting multiple wines side by side. It's really the only way because we, you, if you get a wine, unless there's something really wrong with it and you're drinking just that you're not going to necessarily take away from that. Any differentiating characteristics, because if you had this Sauvignon Blanc one night and then the shard of the next. You might be like, I don't know, they're both just white wines. However, if you had them next to each other, you would really be able to tell the difference. A great way to do this as if you're going out to eat with someone else, you each get a glass and then, taste both were, if you're going to have two glasses of wine with dinner, just order them both at the same order, two different ones at the same time and try them next to each other. It's a really, or, open, open a couple of bottles at home and keep them in the fridge. Even if they're reds, it'll help them stay fresher longer. But yeah. If you're, if you can, especially, if you have someone else at home, you're drinking with, I live by myself. So I'm always should I do this? Should I not do this? But keep them in a fridge to last I can take down two bottles by myself in a week. No problem. So I just open them both and I'll just taste them side by side. And if you have a Cabernet Sauvignon, And a Malbeck and you're tasting them next to each other. And you do that maybe with a couple of different ones of each of that grape variety over the course of time, you're going to start to notice the similarities within the Malbeck similarities within the cab similarities and differences with each other. And then you can start to tell the difference between them and it becomes this addicting, fun, little game you can play with yourself for the rest of your life.
[00:20:08] Russ Johns: Yeah, absolutely. I really the different notes and varietals and the flavors you start to recognize it. So is there like a Somalia. Dictionary where they can actually, the fruits and the Oak and, the different flavors and textures that you're using to describe wine. Is there like a dictionary?
[00:20:28] Montana Neiley: Yeah there's a lot, there's all the way up to the very complex I'll wreck. I will recommend wind fall. That's an awesome resource for people that start. I really appreciate the author because she is someone I listened to a podcast with her on it. And I was like, oh my gosh, this makes so much sense. She's a, I'm a very visual learner. She's the same way, but she's very much the same way, even more so than I. And so she was having a hard time at the beginning of her career expressing. What she was tasting and how the flavors and style and texture worked together. So she started drawing it and she has a fabulous website that you can type in a search bar and type in back, and it'll come up with the typical flavors and styles. And then there's also a couple of really good books that they produce. There's a black and gold cover. You'll recognize it. If you look for that on Amazon or your local bookstore for the holidays for a gift, if you know someone who's a whiner. Wind folly F O L Y. It's really great content and it's a great place to start. You can, you'll graduate up into that, but this is like basic stuff that actually makes sense. And a lot of it is probably things that you've actually had before because Americans we've, most of us have not had like gooseberries or red, current, or even black, current, and. Like people put it in their tasting notes. And I'm like, when did you have this? I'm sorry.
[00:21:41] Russ Johns: I'm not sure that I would recognize it if it was on my table.
[00:21:44] Montana Neiley: And it's good to buy like fruits and stuff, like random fruit and taste and smell them in a row. I can't remember what that's called. One of my teachers told me one time that you. If you haven't had a nectarine next to a peach, just like we're talking about tasting the wines next to each other, taste them.
[00:21:58] Russ Johns: You'll know the difference. You'll know the difference when he says good morning pirates. We finally have Montana on the ship to select the finest wines for the crew. Welcome Atlanta. We have a benefit, but Admiral who ages like fine wine himself. A Hawaii. Yes, I do age like fine wine, Chris. That always amazes me Gabe, how people can tell the difference, but fruit flavors in wine. It's absolutely there. Michael Baker says being present in the moment, open to the opportunities as they are there. This is really a great conversation to have. And I just want to make sure that we have an opportunity to share some of the things that you have because the wine ship.com. And then you're on Instagram. So how do you transfer? Cause I haven't visited your Instagram yet. So how do you transfer the visual nature and the tasting adventure on Instagram?
[00:22:55] Montana Neiley: Instagram is an image for, fool one is defund, beautiful images. They want to learn about wine. But I think a lot of times people don't read captions, they don't necessarily absorb. And I think that also there is a very saturated field that I'm a part of, I admit, but I am of people that create content based on wine. And a lot of times they don't they don't necessarily take the time to. I understand the, the place the wine comes from or share that. And it takes a lot of time. Don't get me wrong. The anatomy of a strong Instagram post is a very time-consuming process, but seriously, cause you have to get the wine. You have to taste, you have to write the notes, do the research, take the photo, edit it, do your hair and makeup, all kinds of stuff. So it's a lot of effort goes into that as well. And it's just it's something that I think. Has an opportunity to be shared and there's a place for it. I love looking at Instagram and seeing all the beautiful photos and learning about new wines and and just seeing what the market is putting out there to the world. I think it's very interesting to see the very small limited segment of wines that get represented on that platform.
[00:24:02] Russ Johns: The more wineries participating in social media.
[00:24:07] Montana Neiley: Yeah, I do. But and I think that again, making wine as a labor of love, that is the toughest part of the whole thing. Especially for craft producers, they're bringing in wine grapes from the vineyard. They are crushing them by foot and. They are doing so much work and then to turn around and relay that story on online. So that's one of the big things that we do at the wine ship is helped to tell those stories, to help the winery, to tell those stories to their audience because they're making the wines and they have these amazing stories. It's not like they have to make up some marketing BS. It's just a true story, but telling it is hard. So we help with that. And and so there's that space to people, but I feel like Instagram really is like the introductory space. And then hopefully that leads to things like a podcast or a video interview or, whatever the case is. There was like this pandemic craze where everybody was doing Instagram live with a winemaker and then influencer. And they're both like sitting there sipping wines and talking about it and it's. Nobody really wants to watch you drink wine on, on anything. Unless they have some too. So I think that people got disenchanted with that over time and, tasting wine and saying Is not that interesting. I feel like people are more interested in where the region is and what's the style of the wine. Perhaps it's something that they too would enjoy as opposed to just oh, I'm getting a note of lemonade here. It's just China tell stories and introduce people to the culture of why more so than just tell them what I think is.
[00:25:32] Russ Johns: I know there's a huge audience, and I know that there's a lot of people out there that are willing to participate and enjoy it. And there's even people invest, there's a whole, another industry about investing wine in wine and, doing purchasing in future wines. And it's like crazy. However, It sounds like you've got a wonderful thing going on. I look forward to hearing more about your journey on the pirate ship, the wine ship. Now that you're a pirate, if I could talk and I would love to have you come back and give us updates on a regular basis.
[00:26:12] Montana Neiley: So we can, I would absolutely love that.
[00:26:13] That'd be so great. Maybe in the spring, hopefully we'll have the ship open and maybe you can even come see us in Denver. We'll have a tasting room.
[00:26:20] Russ Johns: That would be absolutely fantastic. Thank you so much Montana for being here. Every, everything that we have going on, connect with Montana. She's also on LinkedIn, although she's not as active on LinkedIn.
[00:26:32] Montana Neiley: I'm trying to be, I'm writing myself notes.
[00:26:34] Russ Johns: I sent your request so you can actually connect.
[00:26:37] Montana Neiley: Ok. And if you go to the website, the wine ship.com up at the upper right-hand corner, there's little buttons that link directly to all the LinkedIn Facebook Instagram is the main one. Please send me a message. So I don't miss you. It's I can say hi and we can connect.
[00:26:52] Russ Johns: Yes. And just say, hey, I'm a pirate. I wanted to connect.
[00:26:55] Montana Neiley: Yeah, I would absolutely love that. And any questions, any guidance I can give for the holidays or gifting or wine questions? No, just don't hesitate.
[00:27:03] Russ Johns: Fantastic. Thank you so much for being here. As always pirates, #kindnessiscool and #smilesarefree and don't forget. Tuesday giving today. So give something positive, productive kind, and considerate. And also, I also am still running the the special for the pirate special. So if you're, if you want more information about the pirate treasure DM me and I'll let you in on it.
[00:27:29] So thank you Montana.
[00:27:30] Montana Neiley: Appreciate you giving your time.
[00:27:33] Russ Johns: Have a wonderful week, and we'll see you on the next one. Take care.
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