Waters Edge Winery’s Unique Franchise Model For Localized Wine And Food Experience

by Drew Hendricks
Last updated May 10, 2023

Legends Behind the Craft Podcast

Waters Edge Winery’s Unique Franchise Model For Localized Wine And Food Experience

Waters Edge Winery's Unique Franchise Model For Localized Wine And Food Experience 11

Angela Zuba is the owner of Waters Edge Winery & Bistro in Kalispell, Montana. Angela Zuba is the driving force behind operations, bringing a wealth of business acumen and a broad understanding of wine and food cultures from around the world. Combined with Trevor’s expertise in fine dining and enthusiasm for customer service, guests of the Winery can enjoy an unforgettable experience.

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Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn: 

  • Angela Zuba is the owner of Waters Edge Winery & Bistro
  • Waters Edge is a franchise model that allows for customization to local demographics
  • The collective has distribution and sourcing networks for procuring grapes from around the world
  • What is thermal vinification?
  • Experimenting with different grape varieties from around the world
  • Sourcing suppliers and marketing, as long as branding standards are followed
  • Using social media to gain followers and customers before opening
  • The challenges of shipping wine, including costs, potential damage, and temperature concerns
  • Her emphasis on the hustle and hard work for success in the wine business

In this episode with Angela Zuba

In this episode with Angela Zuba, Angela discusses the importance of accessibility and the unique business model of Waters Edge Winery as a boutique cooperative franchise. How Waters Edge Winery offers unique wines and food styles that cater to its local customer base.

Angela Zuba is the owner of Waters Edge Winery & Bistro in Kalispell, Montana. Angela talks about how they teach their franchises how to produce wine commercially in an urban environment, making the process efficient and waste-free.

In today’s episode of the Legends Behind The Craft podcast, Drew Thomas Hendricks and Bianca Harmon are joined by Angela Zuba, Angela Zuba is the owner of Waters Edge Winery & Bistro in Kalispell, Montana. Angela emphasizes hustling and working hard in the wine business while staying relevant and constantly thinking ahead. She advises other wineries to keep social media real by being themselves and showing their rough side.

Resources Mentioned in this episode

Sponsor for this episode…

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Episode Transcript

[00:00:00] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Drew Thomas Hendricks here. I’m the host of the Legends Behind the Craft Podcast. On this show, I talk with leaders in the wine and craft beverage industry.

Last week I had an amazing conversation with Kaleigh Brook from Valdemar Estates. We talked about the importance of accessibility in delivering the same experience to everyone regardless of their physical conditions. Today I’ve got a really special guest from Kalispell, Montana on the show. But before I formally introduce her, I gotta do the sponsor message.

Today’s episode is sponsored by Barrels Ahead. At Barrels Ahead, we help the wine and craft industry skill our businesses through authentic content. Go to barrelsahead.com today to learn more. Today we have Bianca Harmon joining us. She’s our DTC strategist. How’s it going, Bianca?

[00:01:03] Bianca Harmon: It’s going good Drew, excited for this episode that we have to go on today.

[00:01:07] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Yes. Today we have Angela Zuba on the show. Angela and her husband Trevor are owners of the Waters Edge Winery in Bistro and Kalispell, Montana. Welcome to the show, Angela.

[00:01:17] Angela Zuba: Hi, thanks, everyone. I’m so glad to be here today.

[00:01:20] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Oh, thank you so much for joining us. There’s so much to talk about and I’m really, really curious about the Waters Edge business model. But before we jump in, let’s talk about kind of, how did you get your start in the wine industry?

[00:01:31] Angela Zuba: Well, I may not have been old enough to drink wine, but I have been partaking, since I was little. My grandparents were very big into wine and craft spirits, and so I got a little bit of knowledge from them.

 And then in my twenties and thirties, my husband and I traveled extensively, throughout the world. And just really have an appreciation for good food and good wine. and it’s just always been a passion to have something where we can combine our passions together in one concept.

[00:02:08] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Sure. now, when did you start, when did the watershed winery in bistros start?

[00:02:13] Angela Zuba: Well, we opened our doors in August of 2020, so as you can imagine, a really, really great time to open an in-person dining experience.

[00:02:23] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Yeah, no, I can’t tell you how many people on the show have opened, right in the headstream of COVID.

[00:02:30] Angela Zuba: Yeah. Well, as you can imagine opening a business, especially a food and beverage business, there is a lot of planning involved in it. And when you’re looking at wines, especially red wines, there’s a lot of aging and a lot of time. So the planning was well underway years before we opened our doors.

And so regardless of Covid, it was, we had to keep going. And just go for it, and let the chips fall where they may and they fell in a good place, I think.

[00:02:55] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Oh, for sure. For sure. Cuz I mean, three years, two years later you’re running strong. Now what did you guys do before?

[00:03:02] Angela Zuba: so, I’m The majority person who’s involved in the business. My husband’s there, he’s my, cheerleading squad and he helps, you know when he can, he’s got his own job that he does for full-time. but my background is in business development, so I’ve been a CEO of major organizations for, you know, the last 20 years or so. And building businesses from the ground up, helping other entrepreneurs get their businesses off the ground and also doing troubleshooting and things like that. And so that’s where that business, comes from. And so there was just a point in my life where I decided that it was my turn. So here,

[00:03:40] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Yes, absolutely. So there are tons of transferable skills you just mentioned there. Now when you decided, so I’m gonna leave the Fortune 500 business development team and go found a winery. How did you go about enacting that plan?

[00:03:52] Angela Zuba: Well, so one of our favorite pastimes is, you know, spending time with each other and having a conversation and eating and drinking, and just doing that sort of thing. But in Kalispell, Montana, what we found was there was really a lack and a gap. There wasn’t a place where you could go to get a really good glass of wine and food at the same time, it was kind of, one or the other. And the wines that you could access in this area are very regionalized and localized. So, you know, you’re typical, you’re California, you’re Washington, that style of thing. You couldn’t really expand and because we’ve traveled so much, we were looking for a little bit more of that European style.

Oh yeah. And so that’s where kind of the whole impetus of this venture came from.

[00:04:36] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Yeah, cause I guess you got one choice. You could start a winery from scratch. You could buy a winery that’s already operating, or you can buy into this unique business model that you guys are part of. Tell us more about this, I’m fascinated by this franchise model.

[00:04:49] Angela Zuba: Okay, so Waters Edge Winery, it is a, franchise in the broad sense. B ut we look at it as more of a boutique, cooperative as such. Yeah. So franchise.

[00:05:01] Drew Thomas Hendricks: I like that. I like that name better.

[00:05:02] Angela Zuba: Yeah. Because when you talk about a franchise, what automatically comes to mind?

You think, you know, subway or, you know, McDonald’s. Yeah. Stuff like that where everything is cookie cutter and everything is the same when you go from location to location to location. But we’re very boutique and we’re very cooperative. So what we share as a franchise is our knowledge. And our buying power and our expertise, everything outside of that is 100% customized to the local demographic. So my winery in bistro is going to look. Absolutely nothing like any other Waters Edge Winery bistro in the country. My wines are unique, my food is unique, my events, the pricing, everything, down to the last detail is a hundred percent, local so that we can cater to our, customer base.

[00:05:53] Drew Thomas Hendricks: That’s great.

[00:05:54] Bianca Harmon: Is that what is across the board with all the Waters Edge wineries then? They’re all unique to, it’s, location where they are at. So their wines, their food styles.

[00:06:04] Angela Zuba: Absolutely. Absolutely. You’re gonna get some that have, you know, they focus more on the food end, so they’ll have you know, a full grill and like the fryers, they’ll do burgers and steaks and things like that.

more on the restaurant end. And then there’ll be some that have literally just, you know, meat and cheese, charcuteries and, things like that, and we fall somewhere in the middle of that gap.

[00:06:28] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Oh, that’s interesting. So they, so the Waters Edge, the franchise part gives you kind of the standard operating procedures that are pretty much the same for every winery like that little, like, you can get the leg up and then you can then kind of riff on top of that and create your own kind of business on top of these SOPs.

[00:06:44] Angela Zuba: Yeah. So they teach us and help us in the winemaking process, right? So how to commercially produce wine in an urban environment because we don’t have vineyards, we don’t harvest our own grapes or anything like that? And so the process that they have developed over the years is really quite slick and it’s very efficient. And so we don’t have to worry about waste or, you know, oak barrels or, you know, soil or weather or anything like that.

And then, because we’re a collective and there’s a good number of us. We have distribution networks and we have sourcing networks. So we have those people that go to all different parts of the world and find those grapes, from those vineyards for us and help us procure them that way.

[00:07:29] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Oh, that’s fantastic. So when you’re procuring grapes from, you know, Italy and you got some really interesting, Chilean blend. I was looking at your site. Is the wine made in Italy and then brought over, or is the juice brought over and it’s vinified in Kalispell?

[00:07:43] Angela Zuba: Yeah, so it’s a new, well, I guess new is a relative term. It’s been in the wine industry for about a decade or so it’s called thermal vinification. And so what that means is,

[00:07:55] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Tell all the listeners about that.

[00:07:57] Angela Zuba: Okay, so people. I wanna make wine, and I want the wine from Italy. So we’ll go and we’ll get, you know, a vineyard and we’ll source those grapes and we’ll, you know, pick from a few different vineyards in a few different reason regions.

And then when it comes time for harvest, what happens is the grapes are picked over there, obviously. they are heat treated at extremely high temperatures for a very short period of time. And what that does is that allows the grapes and the juice to sort of be preserved in a way. And it kills any kind of radical bacteria that might be floating around or radical yeast. And then they’re crushed down. because as you can imagine, transporting grapes in the whole fashion across the ocean would be really difficult and really costly. Yeah. Yeah, so they’re crushed down then and put in these massive bladders, airtight bladders, and then they’re shipped.

And what that does is, the preservation that I talk about allows us to have the grape juice, we call it must uhhuh because it does have the seeds and the stems and the skins and all of that with it. And it allows it to last a lot longer. So by the time it reaches us, That process has allowed it to mellow out and the tannins have smoothed out a little bit.

Mm-hmm. And then we make the wine from there. So, wow, It’s just a really concentrated, sugary grape juice in a bladder, and then we ferment it. We age it, we finish it, we put any kind of flavor additives that we wanna add in there. And so essentially, other than harvesting the grapes, we make it a hundred percent in-house.

[00:09:30] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Oh yeah. And then, are you in charge of some of these unique blends we see on this site?

[00:09:35] Angela Zuba: Yeah. So if you’re looking at my website specifically,

[00:09:37] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Yes. That’s the only set of,

[00:09:38] Angela Zuba: Yeah. Every, everything that is on that website, we have created, so we do a lot of experimentation. And our most popular blend, I think is probably the one you’re referring to, it’s our Ruby Crown King Lit. Yeah. And it’s a blend. so we take grapes, Chilean grapes, Carmen, and then we also take some grapes from Lodi, Zinfandel grapes, and then we make those two individuals, and then once they have finished, we will blend them at a certain ratio to get that certain flavor profile that we’re looking for. So you have this wine that comes from two different ends of the globe. But we’re making it in Montana where you just, you, you can’t grow grapes.

[00:10:18] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Hey, that’s Freaking wild and fantastic, just like the traditional like ideas of how wine should be, well, not that you’re not making wine traditionally, but like these radical blends are fantastic. Yeah.

[00:10:30] Bianca Harmon: Tell me about this custom vintage that you guys are doing as well.

[00:10:33] Angela Zuba: Oh, so this is starting to really pick up, and I was just speaking with a guest yesterday because her wines are ready and what we do is, We will have a group, say this particular group, they’re getting married, so they wanted a custom vintage for their wedding.

And we’ve done this for businesses and corporations as well. So we’ll bring you in and we will do a very formal, very long, very fancy wine tasting with all of the different wines that we have. And we will do a blunt, so we’ll do some chemistry. We’ll have, you know, 10% of one with, you know, 30% of another and 40% of another. And we’ll just keep mixing and taking notes and tasting. And then we come up with a blend that they love, and then I will go out and make each of those wines individually, blend them together, age them together, and then they have this a hundred percent unique. You’re never gonna fight it anywhere else in the world blend of wine.

[00:11:30] Bianca Harmon: That’s cool. That’s cool. Did they get about a case of it or something? Is that

[00:11:34] Angela Zuba: No, the minimum is about 10 cases. Yeah.

[00:11:36] Bianca Harmon: 10 cases. Wow. Ok. I read that wrong. 12 cases, approximately. 12 cases. I read that it’s 12 bottles.

[00:11:44] Angela Zuba: Oh, yes. No, no. Yeah, we have to make them in bigger batches just because the process of all the different stages we would lose.

[00:11:50] Bianca Harmon: That makes a lot more sense and it’s a lot of work. Yeah.

[00:11:54] Drew Thomas Hendricks: So, with the customs. So you’ve got some of these blends and you’ve come up with them in your two, three years, it’s hard to have like a house style, but what would you describe your house style with all your vision and what you’re trying to do to, make these wines? How would you describe your wines in general?

[00:12:08] Angela Zuba: I think it’s just global infusion with a local flare. So we’re just trying at this point because we are still so new and we have such a vast repertoire of wines. We’re trying to see what the consumer is going to gravitate toward. So we have that Ruby Crown King lit, right? And then our next one is our signature red blend. It’s the zoobilicious, it’s the one that we made for our one-year anniversary. It’s a French Bordeaux, so it’s a bunch of different French grapes that are all blended together there. But I think what we’re really trying to do is we’re just trying to be unique. We’re trying to do what other people aren’t able to do, or, what traditional vineyards can’t do because they’re limited to their specific grape and their specific style. So that’s kind of our niche is what you know, but with a unique twist.

[00:12:57] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Yeah, I like that. And you say like what appealing to the local clientele and the people that come into your, what sort of wines is your Kalispell client base gravitating towards?

[00:13:08] Angela Zuba: So in Kalispell, I would have to say they’re looking for things that are a little bit more fruit-forward. for the majority of people, our Sangria line is incredibly popular.

 We lovingly nickname that as adult Kool-Aid because it’s a lower alcohol wine, we’ve got a lot of water around here, a lot of rivers, a lot of lakes, and so people like to get out on the water and you don’t wanna have, you know, high alcohol concentrations and things like that. So we make a little bit of a weaker wine, lower alcohol, and then, we infuse them with natural fruit extract.

So we’ve got some pretty unique flavors like the pineapple yuzu and raspberry dragon fruits and white cranberry and things of that nature. So Blackberry and that then those are super popular.

[00:13:51] Drew Thomas Hendricks: I’m loving this new, low alcohol trend and, and then the finally the what’s the wrong word, but the freedom to be able to like, experiment and add fruits to the wines and do the Sangria line, do the spritzers like over the summer I really got into these canned wine spritzers at the beach.

[00:14:06] Angela Zuba: Yeah. Yeah. Well, we carbonate too, that’s something that we’re getting into just now is, the carbonization and, champagne methods and things like that. So we can offer that other line and we love to partner with our local growers here.

So, oh, wow, because we have a huge, huge lake, the Flathead Lake and cherries grow there really well. And so I’m working with a local cherry grower to have an infused, Pinot Grigio. So you’re gonna get some of that local flair. And we also have a, mountain, that is growing lavender and lavender infused in wine is something that’s pretty incredible as well. So that’s,

[00:14:42] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Yeah, I don’t think I’ve ever, I can imagine the cherry infused, and I can imagine lavender, but I can’t imagine lavender and wine. What would you blend that with either?

[00:14:50] Bianca Harmon: so again, we would pick a white wine with a lavender it’s really subtle. it’s,

[00:14:53] Drew Thomas Hendricks: I was thinking of lamb like lavender, pinot lamp.

[00:14:58] Bianca Harmon: The lavender is really popular in cocktails these days, like the lavender infusions, but I don’t think I’ve heard of one in a wine.

[00:15:05] Angela Zuba: You can do anything, you know, just because it’s segregated generally to one sort of cocktail, right? Another thing we’re gonna be releasing, I guess I’m gonna tell the world today cuz I haven’t announced it yet, is a smoked wine.

So you know how you do a smoked old fashioned? We’re gonna be doing the same thing with a specific red and a specific white. So you can come into the winery, order your smoked wine, and you get it in a craft and the smoke is in there, you swirl it around.

[00:15:34] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Oh wow.

[00:15:35] Angela Zuba: Pour into your glass and then you get that extra oak, in your wine while you’re drinking it.

[00:15:40] Drew Thomas Hendricks: I’d be up on that. That’s probably a little different because we spend so much time talking about smoke tain with all the fires and all the wineries spends so much time trying to take the smoke out of the wine. This is the first time and you’re adding it. But you’re adding the better smoke. No one wants wildfire smoke at all.

[00:15:54] Angela Zuba: No, no. We’re adding oak smoke.

[00:15:57] Bianca Harmon: That’s cool. Well was your clientele mostly people from around the area or do you have a lot of tourism that comes through?

[00:16:06] Angela Zuba: Well, we are really, tourist focused here. We do have our local base, but in the peak season, so summer in winter, it’s very high in tourism because we are about three minutes outside of Glacier National Park.

[00:16:20] Bianca Harmon: Oh, wow. Yeah. So, I guess I know where I need to go then next time I go to Glacier National Park.

[00:16:26] Angela Zuba: Absolutely.

[00:16:28] Bianca Harmon: Wow. What a prime location.

[00:16:30] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Kalispell is a great town. we passed through there about three, four years ago on our trip through Glacier.

[00:16:35] Angela Zuba: Okay. Okay. Yeah. Yeah. So we’re right in there, right in with the hub.

[00:16:39] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Oh, that’s fantastic. so this winemaking just fascinates me. Did you take classes or how did they ramp you up to be able to start making the wine? Or do you have a consultant come in that helps you?

[00:16:48] Angela Zuba: Well, so it was all done in-house with the, we call ’em corporate or headquarters or whatever you wanna call ’em. but the people who instigated the Waters Edge Winery concept, we do a lot of virtual training. It was probably almost a year’s worth of virtual training and then we would actually go out to California where they’re located and do a whole week’s worth of hands on.

And then they had their wine master, come out to our location. And help us, with the equipment that’s specific to our production. Mm-hmm. So that, you know, we have the skills we need and then there’s constant ongoing, we are in such communication because we’re small, the communication is great, you know, I can pick up the phone and call them anytime I have a question and go,

[00:17:30] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Yeah, I’d imagine it’s like having like anology support on demand.

[00:17:34] Angela Zuba: Yeah. Yeah.

[00:17:36] Drew Thomas Hendricks: We’ve got the experts because most wineries, they have to source their winery consultant and everybody has it by going into this cooperative base, you’ve got like this instant access to these to help.

[00:17:46] Angela Zuba: Yeah. and even better thing of it is that they take our feedback as well. It’s not a one-way street. So when we come up with different concepts, they really take it seriously and if it’s great, they implement it through the entire system or make it accessible through the entire system.

[00:18:01] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Well, that’s fantastic. And the corporate, they’re up in Rancho Cucamonga?

[00:18:04] Angela Zuba: Rancho Cucamunga. Yep.

[00:18:05] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Yep. They’re just up the freeway from us about an hour. Yeah, no, I’m familiar with the area that’s an old wine growing region for sure. One of the oldest in California.

[00:18:14] Angela Zuba: I don’t know if they even actually really grow anymore out there so much. But

[00:18:20] Drew Thomas Hendricks: There’s a vineyard that I passed by, as I’m driving east on the 215, I think it’s right by the, Bass Pro outlet. But there’s these ancient, ancient vines that I’m always, my goodness, wondering who the heck is farming them. They look like some of the most ancient vines I’ve seen.

[00:18:34] Angela Zuba: Oh gosh, I didn’t know that.

[00:18:36] Drew Thomas Hendricks: But yeah, getting back to kind of your winemaking, going into COVID, you faced the headwinds of, you know, the country kind of shutting down.

And then over the last two years the biggest topic’s been supply chain and having all your juice coming in. How did you guys get around that or what challenges did you face?

[00:18:52] Angela Zuba: So for us, getting the juice in it didn’t really seem to be a problem. Of course, shipping costs went.

Ridiculous, they went through the roof beyond anything I could have ever imagined. So we challenge, had challenges with that. But as far as getting our products, we didn’t have a lot of challenges and I was pleasantly surprised because being in Montana we’re kind of at the end of the line, you know, there’s really nowhere to go in this country, north of us. So, I thought we would have a lot more issues than we did, but other than cost getting our product, wasn’t really terrible. I would say the only thing that was troublesome in getting was wine bottles. So glass is difficult.

Yeah, because, and this is just the way it is, most of the glass comes from China. you know, some comes from, there’s really only two glass producers in the United States, and none of ’em are really equipped to produce the bottles for wine. Yeah. And not the volume that we would need either. So, we did have some challenges that way. So we had to, you know, I wouldn’t say lower quality, but less expensive glass and what that helped us do was keep the weight down. And so the shipping costs stayed a little bit down. A nd then that also allowed us to pass those savings onto the guest so we didn’t have to increase our prices as much as maybe some of the others did.

[00:20:10] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Oh, that’s great. Yeah, we spend a lot of time talking about new eco packaging and glass weight in general. I mean, there’s really no reason to have a one pound bottle. I mean, it looks impressive, but it really, you’re just like throwing money away trying to ship that around.

[00:20:26] Angela Zuba: Yeah, exactly.

[00:20:26] Bianca Harmon: Exactly. So when these co-ops, are you going through like the glass, do they recommend them or are you guys going out and finding a glass distributor or are they who they recommend using?

[00:20:38] Angela Zuba: So we have an approved supplier list that we can fall back on. But really we have the ability and the freedom to source out wherever we want to.

So if I can find a glass supplier that’s closer to me, then somewhere southern in the us, then I’m gonna go with that supplier. So, that makes sense. Yeah, I’m not, tied, my hands aren’t tied or restricted in any way.

[00:20:58] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Oh, so you can source throughout the ecosystem, you have your recommended, but you’re not, your hands aren’t tied. You don’t have to go straight through the cooperative.

[00:21:05] Bianca Harmon: What about for your marketing? Do you have to go through certain avenues with marketing for your winery or do you get to choose how you do all of that as well?

[00:21:13] Angela Zuba: No, I have a hundred percent freedom as long as I stick to, you know, any branding standards that we have.

 But even if you look at my logo versus other logos in the system or even the corporate logo, mine is different.

[00:21:26] Bianca Harmon: Yeah. I kinda did that, that’s why I kind of asked.

[00:21:28] Angela Zuba: Yeah, so ours is a mountain peak specific to Glacier National Park, and then our wines are named after birds that are local to the state of Montana. And so that’s why we have birds and mountains in our logo. Cool.

[00:21:42] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Yeah, listen, I was looking at the white wing dove and I’m thinking, ah, it’s Stevie Nicks, but it’s actually after the bird.

[00:21:50] Angela Zuba: Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely.

[00:21:51] Drew Thomas Hendricks: So when you launched the winery, and this is good transferable now, a lot of industry people listen to this show. How did you go about getting the word out and I’m marketing yourself?

[00:22:00] Angela Zuba: It was social media because of COVID, I had no choice. mm-hmm. You know, I’m a big Chamber of Commerce person and I get involved with a lot of the business organizations, but there was no meeting face-to-face, and I was brand new to the state.

Nobody knew who I was, I didn’t have any connections, so I had to use social media and we had close to a thousand followers. Before we even opened our doors, which was pretty impressive I think. And we had people even signing up for our wine club before we opened. but it was all done through Facebook and Instagram.

[00:22:32] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Oh, wow. Where did you move from?

[00:22:34] Angela Zuba: We moved from Canada.

[00:22:35] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Oh, did you?

[00:22:36] Angela Zuba: Yeah, from Southern Alberta.

[00:22:37] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Usually people are going the other direction these days.

[00:22:41] Angela Zuba: Well, if you like socialism, you can go north. Yeah,

[00:22:45] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Fine. Where were you up in Canada?

[00:22:49] Angela Zuba: In Southern Alberta, so just south of Calgary.

[00:22:52] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Oh, okay. We spent a bunch of time up in Penticton in the, okay, so that’s, yep. That would be for the other side.

[00:23:00] Angela Zuba: Little west, yep.

[00:23:01] Drew Thomas Hendricks: I was on Canada. I’m always surprised like when I’m up there that we can like bring the wine back for 25 cents, but people in Canada can’t drive from. British Columbia over to Alberta without paying tax with their wine.

[00:23:12] Angela Zuba: Well, yeah. It’s a law, but it’s not enforced. So

[00:23:17] Drew Thomas Hendricks: It just seems odd.

[00:23:20] Angela Zuba: Yeah. Yeah.

[00:23:20] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Like I couldn’t imagine driving from California to Oregon and stopping and paying some tax.

[00:23:25] Angela Zuba: Yeah. Yeah. They say, but it’s not really, I think

[00:23:28] Drew Thomas Hendricks: It’s not really that. No, it’s not really that big of a thing. Yeah, no, Well that’s interesting. So all on social media in the local Kalispell people, then embrace the winery. Two years, now talk to me about the bistro I mean running a bistro is a completely separate challenge from launching this winery.

[00:23:45] Angela Zuba: Well, in my opinion, I wouldn’t do one without the other. I would never do food without wine, and I would never do wine without food. They compliment each other, and so I wanted to have a fairly simple menu, but I wanted to be able to offer all of the options. So lunch, eat dinner, tapas, that kind of thing. We don’t do breakfast or anything like that, but, you need to be able to have that bite in order to enhance the flavor of the wine, that’s just natural and so we started out with probably, I wanna say maybe 12, 10 to 12 items on our menu. And it’s grown. So we have, a pretty extensive menu of a handful of appetizers, you know, nachos, charcuteries, we do everything fresh, so fresh jalapeno poppers and like I was saying before, things that you would normally find as a light bite, but we’ve done our own spin, so, baked white wine cheese dip. We hand roll chocolate truffles that have red wine in them. We do all kinds of sandwiches, we do prime rib paninis, pizzettas, and like I said, the desserts. So, but everything has that little bit of a different spin and then we incorporate our staff, our team as well. So I’m not the end all, be all.

I don’t know everything. My team has a flavor profile and a pallet, so they’ve come up with a bunch of different dishes and when they do, if they’re good, we put them on the menu and name them after them. So it’s just been really cool. It’s a really good way to keep them engaged and keep our guests engaged.

It makes for great social media stories, and then it also has, you know, unique different items on the menu.

[00:25:22] Drew Thomas Hendricks: What advice would you give? Talk about social media stories and what you put on there. What advice would you have for other wineries, like to boost their social media, or what do you see a lot of wineries doing wrong with social media?

[00:25:33] Angela Zuba: Well, I don’t know if any if I would wanna say anyone’s doing anything wrong.

[00:25:36] Drew Thomas Hendricks: You don’t call anyone going out, but you can talk in generalities.

[00:25:39] Angela Zuba: Yeah, I just, I say keep it real, you know, we’re all people, we’re all small business owners. Make it light, make fun of yourself. For instance, I had a fermentation go hot one time and we call ’em wine volcanoes.

[00:25:55] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Oh, totally.

[00:25:56] Angela Zuba: Yeah, we had wine spewing out of a fermentation tank and it was running all over the floor. And yes, you know, you don’t want that to happen, but it does sometimes. And so we took video footage and pictures and we put it on social media and said, anyone got a straw gonna come have a sip of our wine volcano, you know, just things like that. Keeping it real and being light and not being fake. What I see a lot about there in the industry, and it’s, again, it’s just a different style than mine. But I’ll see businesses and everything is perfect, you know, every photo’s perfect. Every piece of their establishment is perfect and flawless, and you gotta wonder, you know, we know that that’s not how it is in real life. So, to me being real, just makes you more relatable and makes people wanna be in your establishment more and we get that all the time, people walk in and say, this feels like home, you know? It feels like our second home. So, that’s just how I like to play it, that’s my marketing shtick.

[00:26:55] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Oh, love that. You gotta show your roughed, you gotta show everything, be real, that’s a really profound statement.

[00:27:02] Angela Zuba: It’s just real, I guess.

[00:27:04] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Yeah, the wine volcano. I gotta what other interesting things popped up because there’s always, anything you have unexpected challenges?

[00:27:12] Angela Zuba: Oh gosh, yeah. When we started working with carbonation and sparkling and stuff like that we’ve had explosions, you know, bottles exploding because we’ve done too much of one thing or not enough of another, and, you know, you get equipment failures or you get power outages, and the other day our dishwasher stopped working and so we had to troubleshoot that. And, you know, we learned the hard way, about how long prime rib takes to cook in our oven versus a different commercial oven when we had a party of 60 people and we were running back and forth and it’s just a learning curve. You just gotta.

[00:27:44] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Gotta be able to roll with it. But not everybody has that skill like, pardon of the phrase, when the shit’s hitting the fan, how do you get through it? What advice do you have there?

[00:27:52] Angela Zuba: A breathe. Go and yeah, breathe. Go have a drink, that usually calms the nerves and we can do that in our industry. but I always just say like, I learned a valuable lesson a long time ago, and it’s this concept, it’s on stage and off stage. So when you’re on stage and your guests are watching or your employees are watching.

It doesn’t matter what’s happening, the world could be falling down, but you don’t let them know, you know, people know things are going wrong, but you still have to be in control and keep a calm head, right? And then when it’s over or you have a minute to yourself, you go in the bathroom, scream into a pillow, do whatever you need to do.

, run around the block, but you just gotta understand that whatever’s happening at that moment isn’t the end of the world. You’ll get through it, you’ll get over it, and it sounds easier than it is when it’s actually happening to you. But you will get through and just don’t lose your cool. I’ve known some owners of different businesses who have lost their bananas on their employees in front of guests, or, you know, things like that. And it just gives you a bad vibe and people don’t wanna go in there and see that. So that’s my piece of advice. Just keep it cool.

That’s one of the

[00:29:05] Drew Thomas Hendricks: hardest leadership things to learn. Bianca can tell you about that, the best, we try, we try every day.

[00:29:14] Angela Zuba: Yeah, yeah, of course. And you have to. Yep.

[00:29:16] Bianca Harmon: I do have a question before we get too far off about your wine club.

[00:29:21] Angela Zuba: Okay.

[00:29:22] Bianca Harmon: Because, so do you ship your wines.

[00:29:25] Angela Zuba: Needed a little drink there.

[00:29:27] Drew Thomas Hendricks: And what are you drinking? Before you answer that, tell us about what you’re drinking there?

[00:29:29] Angela Zuba: Oh, I’m drinking the white Rumped Sandpiper. So it’s a Chilean Sauvignon Blanc.

[00:29:36] Bianca Harmon: Yum.

[00:29:37] Drew Thomas Hendricks: White Rumped Sandpiper. Yeah. Yeah.

[00:29:40] Angela Zuba: Is it dry or sweet? Yeah, it’s. Off dry. So it’s really more creamy than anything, yeah, and Sauvignon Blanc is kind of a trending thing right now, especially like if you go to the Paso Robles region, you’re gonna see there’s a lot of Sauvignon Blancs there, but kind of one of my favorites right now. But back to your question, Bianca, about shipping, we do ship, we can ship to just about any state in the country. There are few that restrict because they wanna protect their own wine industry, which I can understand. but we don’t do a lot of it for two reasons. Well, three, I should say number one, shipping is incredibly expensive right now. So there’s that. People don’t wanna pay, you know, half the cost of the bottle of wine just to get it to their house. Number two, shipping companies are ruthless and it doesn’t matter how well you package things, you know, 40% of the time it gets destroyed. So, There’s that. and then also condition of the wine. What a lot of people don’t know is you can’t ship wine in the summertime unless you have refrigerated carriers which, if you’re shipping, you know, a case of wine, you can’t get it refrigerated. So if it gets over 80, 85 degrees, it destroys the wine. So it will turn to vinegar and you have nothing drinkable. So those are kind of the reasons why we don’t like to ship, but we will if we are requested to but not in the summer.

[00:31:03] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Well, yeah. Yeah, this summer,

[00:31:05] Bianca Harmon: Well, it’s hard to ship to Montana. I’ve worked in many, many wineries in shipping to, Montana is actually one of the more difficult states to ship to during the wintertime. Ah, yeah, because it’s so cold.

[00:31:15] Angela Zuba: I don’t find it’s cold, you know, I’m from Canada, so I thought that it’s warmer here than it was where I came from.

[00:31:23] Bianca Harmon: I remember one year at the tasting room, there was this couple, and it was like January, and me and my coworker, we were working in like the tasting room that had like the fireplace going, and we’re standing there and we’re like, oh my God, it’s so freaking cold today and we’re freezing.

And it was like raining and all of a sudden this couple walks in and no shit. They have like Hawaiian shorts on and Hawaiian shirt, and we’re like, they’re like, are you guys cold? And we’re like, yeah. Are you from Montana? They’re like, yeah. How’d you know? No idea. No idea.

[00:31:55] Angela Zuba: Yeah. If it’s above 40 degrees, people are wearing shorts here.

[00:31:58] Bianca Harmon: Yeah. And they’re like, this feels great. And we’re like, yeah. It’s freezing.

[00:32:04] Angela Zuba: Oh, that’s funny.

[00:32:06] Drew Thomas Hendricks: That is funny though. I wanna shift a second cuz you talked about how you’re in charge of your own custom events. What events have you, started that have, has really helped kind of boost your business and kind of some of the things that the local residents really like?

[00:32:19] Angela Zuba: Well, we do a lot of things. So, a couple of our biggest catalysts, I would say, we started doing a business owner networking event, and that was because of COVID. I had met a few different business owners and some were really complacent with COVID and others. We gotta hustle, we can’t let our businesses fail because this is happening, right? so we came up with a way to still allow a face-to-face networking. We did it safely, of course, but we were able to facilitate that and still keep the local business market moving. So deals were still getting done, things like that. So we became very business focused.

We started hosting, the local rotary clubs, you know, for their luncheons and things like that. But then we also knew that we need to be different, we can’t just do the same old thing and just, you know, have some guys sitting in the corner strumming a guitar on Friday nights. We had to think outside the box. So one of the biggest things that we do is we partnered with another local gal who does this all on her own, and we do real live clue games.

[00:33:21] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Oh, tell me about that.

[00:33:23] Angela Zuba: Yes. Yeah. And so we just finished our second year for October. On every Saturday night we do death by wine. And what it is, is you buy a ticket for it and it’s a themed event.

And then the host, she’ll tell you who your character is, she’ll give you some details about your character.

[00:33:39] Bianca Harmon: I did one of these, it’s so much fun.

[00:33:42] Angela Zuba: Yeah. But when you get a group of 40 or 50 strangers who don’t know each other, and they all have different characters and they all go over the top with their costumes and they’re acting and they get so involved, and then you have to, you know, try to not be the victim and then you gotta figure out who the killer is and then there’s all different kinds of little challenges and games amongst the game, and that’s really elevated our profile and, you know, put us forward as one of the fun places to go to because we’re gonna do things that are out of the box and in addition to not just bringing in revenue, cuz obviously we’re in business.

That’s what it’s about, we wanna make money but we also are very philanthropic and corporate social responsibility is very huge in my mind. So we give back as well. And one of the things we started doing in September was, bingo for a cause. So we have bingo every night. But instead of charging people for bingo tickets, we take a donation instead.

And that entire month we collect all that money and then we give it to that charity. So we’ve raised thousands of dollars already for things like the elementary snack programs and this month we’re gonna be supporting the Veterans Association, the Veterans Pantry, and last month. We did the Shriners Hospital and so there’s just a lot of different ways that we try to outreach to the, local community. So not only are we helping, but we’re bringing our awareness up and bringing more people in to experience, Waters Edge Winery.

[00:35:14] Drew Thomas Hendricks: That is such a good recipe for success. I remember talking to Michael Holihan, who is the, founder of Barefoot Wines, I dunno if you’ve ever read his book, but no, it’s a fantastic book to read just by the hustle that it took for him to build the winery up into the three tier system but really it was the worthy cause marketing was that he, talks about is the key to success.

[00:35:37] Angela Zuba: Yeah, it’s important. you know, making money is important, but if you don’t give back to the people that support you, they’re not gonna see you in the same light. And so that’s incredibly important for us.

[00:35:49] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Absolutely. As we’re, kind of, getting towards the end of the show, I gotta ask you for some advice to other people who are maybe wanting to do a career shift or, get into the wine business. What advice would you have for them?

[00:36:01] Angela Zuba: Hustle. Hustle. If I could put it in one word, it’s hustle, right? You have to be on top of the game all the time. I get prospective, you know, winery owners that are looking to jump into the system and I give them all kinds of good feedback and good ideas and good, you know, I love it, right? I wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t love it, and I wasn’t happy with it, but I’m not shy to tell them that you’re not gonna get out of it unless you put into it. So you have to work hard, this is like having triplets, brand newborn triplets, right? For the first couple years, it is your baby. You eat, sleep, breathe 24/7, this business, if you want it to succeed and be successful. Gone are the days where you can just put a shingle out and people will come in. You have to be relevant, and in order to do that, you have to constantly be thinking, you know, six months out, a year out. So if you wanna hustle, you’re gonna do well, and that’s I think, my advice in any business, not just the wine business, but any business.

[00:37:00] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Oh, for sure. Wineries aren’t a field of drink, you can’t just build it and people are gonna come.

[00:37:04] Angela Zuba: Yeah. That’s what they think. It’s sexy, right? It’s wine and it’s,

[00:37:08] Drew Thomas Hendricks: You can mill it and do nothing, but you’re gonna have to hire someone to actually do it.

[00:37:12] Angela Zuba: Right. Yeah, right. Yeah. Be wealthy or hustle. Yeah.

[00:37:16] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Talking about your vision now. S o what’s your vision for Waters Edge?

[00:37:21] Angela Zuba: So we’re looking at expansion. We have a couple of irons in the fire that I can’t really talk about too much at this point in time.

 But we’re looking at, you know, additional locations, brick and mortar and, that sort of thing. And we are trying to just increase our catering. So, we’re doing more and more offsite catering. As well as our onsite events and, things like that. So it’s an expansion definitely. Yeah.

[00:37:46] Drew Thomas Hendricks: I would expect like more collaborations with all the local growers. And would also be in there as well too.

[00:37:51] Angela Zuba: Yeah. Yeah, with the grapes, we haven’t really ventured there yet.

[00:37:55] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Or even the fruit. That cherry sounds fantastic.

[00:37:58] Angela Zuba: It’s the fruit, the cherries, lavender, huckleberries, if you’ve ever heard, you know, huckleberries.

[00:38:03] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Oh yeah.

[00:38:03] Angela Zuba: In Montana.

[00:38:04] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Yeah. I went to school up at Gonzaga, huckleberries were a big thing.

[00:38:07] Angela Zuba: Yeah. Yeah. And so, you know how valuable they are and how hard they are to get, so we’re definitely exploring those avenues as well. and yeah.

[00:38:15] Drew Thomas Hendricks: You stick huckleberry and anything in it sells.

[00:38:17] Angela Zuba: Yeah. Yeah, for sure.

[00:38:21] Drew Thomas Hendricks: No, that’s the thing. No, I love this wine fruit, collaboration or with all the wineries I see that are going into that foray because they can add so much to the wine.

[00:38:30] Angela Zuba: Oh yeah, you can turn it into anything you wanna turn it into with the right extract of a fruit flavor for sure.

[00:38:36] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Yeah, absolutely. Is there anything we haven’t talked about that you’d like to bring up.

[00:38:40] Angela Zuba: Well the only thing that we didn’t touch on was cider, so

[00:38:44] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Oh, I forgot. That’s one of my favorites.

[00:38:46] Angela Zuba: Yeah. Wine and cider are essentially the same manufacturing process, there’s really nothing different to it.

But with cider, what we’ve been experiencing, is we can make it taste exactly like beer. And in the reason we would do something like that is because in the state of Montana, if you manufacture wine, you cannot sell any other kind of alcohol, right? Interesting, so we

[00:39:12] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Oh, that’s common.

[00:39:13] Angela Zuba: Yeah, we can make wine and we can make cider, but I’ve been experimenting with, hops and oak and things like that, and so we’ve been pretty successful in our cider lines that we’ve rolled out this last year and attracting more of those beer drinkers into our establishment.

[00:39:29] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Yeah. I love a good hop cider.

[00:39:32] Angela Zuba: So good. Yeah.

[00:39:33] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Yeah, man, where can people find out more about you in Waters Edge Winery?

[00:39:37] Angela Zuba: So you can find more about us on our website, wewinerykalispell.com. on our Facebook page, Waters Edge Winery, same with Instagram, and then we are located on the corner of Highway 2 & Reserve in Kalispell, Montana, Glacier National Park.

[00:39:54] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Awesome. If you’re visiting there, you gotta stop by. Well, Angela, thank you so much for joining us today.

[00:40:00] Angela Zuba: Thank you so much for having me. I love it. Thank you.

[00:40:02] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Thank you. And you have a great day.

[00:40:03] Angela Zuba: Oh, you too.