Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Kelsey Daniels, Bend, Oregon
Chloe Educational Scholarship Winner | Entrepreneur | Owner of wine bar

Kelsey Daniels In 2018 I left the world as I knew it behind and quit my career as a film and commercial producer after 17 years. My mind had often wandered to ‘what if I could do something else’ and all I ever wanted was to own my own wine bar and be my own boss. Easier said than done. As a wine lover I planned any vacations or travel around wine regions but had no formal education. When my husband and I went to New Zealand, I booked bike wine tours in Marlborough. When I was in Chile, we visited the Casablanca Valley and on my honeymoon, I got to spend 4 glorious days in Chianti. I was lucky enough to film in Napa and Tuscany as well for work. When my husband and I moved from Salt Lake City to southern California for his job, I decided to take a job at a small family-owned wine shop. The owner was Mary Forgey and the only other non-family employee was Kristina Tomlin. They became my female wine guides.

Mary had little to no formal training either when she opened the shop in 2008. Mary and her husband just loved wine and their favorite pastime was traveling to Paso Robles so they decided to open a wine shop in La Verne, CA. She had been a writer, he was an architect project manager. This sounded a lot like me. It gave me hope that even though I hadn’t gone to college for viticulture or hospitality, it was still possible. I used the time working for Mary to decide if I really wanted to do this as a career. I’ve heard countless stories of people that opened a bar or shop because they ‘thought it would be fun’ only to find out the amount of work involved was not what they were expecting. I washed dishes, plated cheese boards and helped create new organizational tools for the shop. After I started studying on my own and taking classes for the WSET 2, I was brought out onto the floor to shadow. Kristina Tomlin took me under her wing. She had already taken the Court of Masters Certified Somm exam once and hadn’t passed. She was coming up on her 3-year expiration and was on the fence as to whether or not she would attempt it again. We immediately hit it off and began studying together. I think my excitement got her excited again. She would pour me blind wines and let me practice my table service on her. I dumped 12 flutes full of water on her at one point, and she still let me practice. I loved working at the wine shop. The best part though, was the attitude Mary and the family had. In my film experience, when something went wrong, it was multi-million-dollar level yelling and ego-driven intensity. When something went wrong at the wine shop however, they listened, understood the problem, never blamed anyone and figured out how to fix it. From Mary, I created my new business motto, WWMD “What Would Mary Do”? I hope whenever I get stressed or something goes terribly wrong at my new wine bar, I will have the calm and understanding attitude that Mary always showed me. I want to pass that mentorship on, to my employees and customers. Kristina and I went on to both pass our Certified Sommelier exams within months of each other.

I need to remember the reason I got into this business and I believe that is exactly what this scholarship and course can help me do. I think we all know how hard it can be to be a woman who is an owner, manager, CEO, Producer, etc. You constantly have to prove yourself to be taken seriously and first impressions can often be misleading. In film when an Exec would first meet me, they would often assume I was an intern or assistant, not the Production Manager or Line Producer. I know I will have those same challenges opening my own business. My knowledge, work ethic and humility will hopefully gain me their respect, but that begins with education.

Follow Chloe