Job Envy: Angela Ortmann
32, Founder, STL winegirl
Ten years ago, Angela Ortmann headed west to study interior architecture in San Francisco, but instead found herself enamored with the area’s wine culture. She immersed herself in all things vino and returned to St. Louis to start STLwinegirl, a one-woman business focused on wine education and enjoyment. Ortmann writes wine columns, hosts private and public tastings, plans specialty wine events, consults for a number of local restaurants and more. Behind her brilliantly friendly smile lies a razor-sharp palate that is helping shape the local wine scene and move St. Louis forward as a food and drink destination.
How she Got Into the Biz I worked in restaurants in high school and college, but when I moved out to San Francisco at 21, I started working my way up through the highend restaurants and hotels. I was originally headed to the city to study interior architecture, because I wanted to plan and design restaurants. Instead, I fell in love with the food and wine scene there, and once I reached the four- and five-star tier, I decided I wanted to start studying for certifications.
Education/Training University of Missouri-Columbia for business; Academy of Art University in San Francisco for interior architecture; Court of Master Sommeliers; and on-site training at wineries, restaurants and hotels.
Why Her Job Rocks In a nutshell, I get paid to eat and drink, and then talk about it. I also love that my industry is always evolving and changing. It’s impossible to get bored when there are always new wine producers and emerging wine regions to learn about—not to mention a new vintage release to taste every year. The fact that I get to dine out regularly, receive weekly wine sample deliveries and attend endless wine, beer and spirits tastings are definitely perks, but I would say traveling to explore wine regions, taste with winemakers and visit vineyards rank at the top.
One thing people would be surprised by That my job is actually quite a lot of work. From my online activity and events, my life looks very carefree and fun, but being a one-woman show is demanding. From research and writing to hosting and attending events to doing my own marketing and bookkeeping, it’s a 24-hour job. And it’s a social job, so I always need to be “on.”
Best thing about the local wine scene Not only do we have incredibly talented people working in St. Louis, but there is also a hunger and a passion here unlike anything I witnessed working in San Francisco. And the fact that we are a blossoming food and wine city brings a level of camaraderie and collaboration that is hard to find in other cities—there is an awareness that we need to work together to showcase St. Louis on the national scene.
Tips for a wine newbie to sound like an oenophile Don’t try to sound like you know more than you do. More often than not, it will lead to a question or situation that will reveal your lack of knowledge. Instead, incorporate a few specific facts, stories or points that you’ve learned into your conversation. And use the word “quaffable.” It describes a wine that you enjoy on its own, without the need for food to complement it. It’s a completely subjective word—everyone loves different wines for different reasons, so no one can ever disagree.
Photo credit: Attilio D’Agostino