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From Architect To Winepreneur: The Inside Story Of STLWineGirl Angie Ortmann’s Unconventional Wine Empire

 

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Today’s guest, Angie Ortmann, is living proof of following a passion. After moving to San Francisco to work in architecture, she decided to completely switch gears and study to become a sommelier. And not “just” a sommelier that works in one restaurant. Since then, Angie (who has since moved back to St. Louis) has created a wine empire ranging from in-home tastings to special classes to being a founding contributor of a magazine based on food and wine.

In this interview, Angie is 100% candid, open and honest about how her empire came to be – including mistakes, lessons, tipping points and much more. Enjoy!

About Today’s Guest, Angie Ortmann:

Angie OrtmannSTLwinegirl Angela Ortmann gained a passion for all things epicurean through her years of experience in luxury restaurants and hotels. A St. Louis native, Angela spent four years in San Francisco perfecting and expanding her food and wine knowledge. She has worked in some of the top restaurants in the country and has trained at wineries, creameries and organic farms. Her employment has included Mobil five star, Michelin rated, AAA five diamond and Relais & Chateaux properties. She has received many industry certifications, most importantly becoming a Sommelier. STLwinegirl is a connoisseur of food, wine, beer, spirits, cigars and cheese.

One of Angela’s true loves lies in the pairing of food and wine. This enthusiasm led to a blog in 2008 which inspired the launch of her own event and consultation business in 2009. STLwinegirl focuses on the enjoyment of the dining experience, whether it be at a five-star restaurant or in the comfort of your own home. By removing the element of intimidation, STLwinegirl is committed to making the world of food and wine approachable while her dedication to using products that are available locally makes it more accessible. Angela hosts public classes and events around the St. Louis area as well as private events such as her highly sought-after In Home Tasting and many corporate functions . No matter the event, it is guaranteed to be a fun, educational experience.

It is Angela’s approachable demeanor that truly makes her events unique! Accessible to both the seasoned wine drinker as well as the novice, STLwinegirl is dedicated to make food and wine less intimidating and help spark a adventurous side of her guests to continue to seek out new foods, wines, cuisines and, most importantly, experiences!

Angela is also a freelance food and beverage writer. She a regular columnist for the publication FEAST Magazine. Her monthly print column “On the Shelf” showcases three new wine buys complete with tasting notes and food pairing suggestions. Through her weekly online-exclusive column “Quite the Pair” Angela dines around town, tasting dishes and offering pairing recommendations from the restaurant’s own wine, beer and cocktail list. Look for a new “Quite the Pair” every Wednesday…Wine Wednesday of course! She also co-hosts the monthly public wine tastings for the magazine with Feast publisher Catherine Neville. Please visit http://www.feastSTL.com for more information and to read her columns.

Connect With Angie (and tell her you saw her on RISE!):

On Her Website
On Twitter

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  • Another very interesting interview! A few comments:

    1. I can also relate to the difficulty of turning down opportunities when you’re just starting out, even if you know deep down that they probably aren’t in your best interest. In the end, it’ll always be better to stay true to yourself and whatever brand you’re trying to build.
    2. I’m glad you discussed the benefits of not having a separation between you and your brand. It’s something that both Angie and David seem to do very well. I was wondering if either of you (or anyone watching) think that’d be a good route even for small businesses that aren’t based around just one person. Or do you think it’s more circumstantial depending on the type of business and that business’ brand?
    3. David, props for interviewing a wino on your 30-day abstinence from alcohol. Staring temptation right in the face haha.

    Good luck in the future Angie!

    • David Siteman Garland

      Scott – Awesome takeaways and comments. (and hah…always a challenge with the fitness/temptation).

      To answer your question, I think it is totally circumstantial depending on a lot of different factors. And it can change over time as well depending on goals. Example: When Peter Shankman founded HARO, he was the brand. He wrote the emails. The emails came from his personal email address. Over time, he sort of “eliminated” himself slowly first by changing the email, etc. and then eventually sold it. And on the other hand there are companies that don’t have a strong personal brand but later the Founder becomes ones. And there are some others where there never is and that is fine too. Hope that helps.

    • Anonymous

      Scott,

      Thanks for your comments, it’s nice to know I am not the only one who has seen the difficulty and pressure of “uncertain” opportunities when just getting started. I have learned a lot from those experiences and hope that, while I will make mistakes in the future, they will hopefully not be the same ones.

      In terms of deciding to have YOU be the brand, I must agree with David, it is very circumstantial to the business at hand. Because I feel that my brand is me (STLwinegirl) and that my services are 100% based on my knowledge and presentation, it made the most sense for me to attack it this way. Also, the mission behind my business is about being personal, approachable and accessible and I don’t think I could be as successful at that without having my face and personality as the representation.

      But just as David referenced HARO, these ideas are ever-changing and as a business grows and develops, the right fit for the “face” of the brand may change. One of the challenges I have to look at is the fact that I am growing to the point where I may not be able to handle (or book) every event myself, so at what point can I hire someone to “do what I do” without the client feeling like they didn’t GET STLwinegirl? This is the biggest branding obstacle I see for myself on the forefront and is one I am constantly looking for feedback on.

      And, don’t you worry, once D is off this fitness thing, I’ll have a full glass in his hand 😉

      Best to you,
      Angie

      • I appreciate the response, Angie. I’d be glad to see how you tackle your growth “challenges” (it’s a great problem to have!) in the future. I’ll be sure to keep up!

  • Great interview. I always think you should begin by branding yourself first as it gives more of a personable approach and the visitors seem more relaxed since they are interacting with an actual human being.
    Awesome insights here … thank you for sharing David.

  • Alexa Hart

    I love this interview. Goes to show that when you’re incredibly passionate about something, you make things happen. Angie looks like she is glowing with happiness. What an inspiration. 

    • STLwinegirl

      Thank you so much Alexa! I am very fortunate to have been able to turn my passion into business and for the opportunities that have come my way! I am just trying to make the most of it all and do the very best I can 🙂

    • David Siteman Garland

      Alexa – Angie rocks. Was super excited to have her on.

  • Anonymous

    Angie’s story is quite unique.  Indeed a true follower of passion.  It’s quite difficult for anyone really to do a 360 on their career especially in today’s day in age.  I’m happy to hear that she’s earning a good income while doing what she loves.

    • David Siteman Garland

      Absolutely, Ivan. Some real life inspiration.

  • Debbiesaviano

    As always loved the Interview with Angie.
    It is a true testament that you continue to provide a variety of “Interviews” that are not only enjoyable but EDUCATIONAL!
    Angie’s comment on “helping us navigate” was perfect in that it is just another avenue that continues to keep people like myself remain “engaged” and “following” YOU!
    Thanks so very much for your continued support and guidance.
    You ask the perfect questions of your guests and it is SO Helpful!…thanks

    • David Siteman Garland

      Thanks, Debbie. Really appreciate that!

  • Anonymous

    Great show! I love that Angie turned her passion to a business. I really like how you use online media to drive off-line events. It seems as though you found a great mix and I that is super important.

 

GET MY FREE CHEAT SHEET

These are the EXACT same steps I used to go from $0 to over $1,000,000 in online course sales in less than 24 months (and used by over 2,500+ of my students)

it's free!
100% privacy guaranteed, no messin' around!