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Behind The Smoke: BBQ War Stories

Sep 22, 2017

Kristin Jolley (@HappyHourWine @JolleyGoodTimes), Owner of Happy Hour Wine and Kat Nelson (@ValleyFarmMarket), Legendary Beverage Manager at Valley Farm Market 

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Ole Hickory Pits:

Grill Grates:

Weber Grills:

Del Mar BBQ Championship Facebook Event:

Upcoming BBQ Events and Competitions:

Kristin Jolley of Happy Hour Wine and Kat Nelson of Valley Farm Market

Thanks to Brian of Hot Sauces N' More for helping Derek setup the new XXL Big Green Egg:

(The Legendary) Beverage Manager at Valley Farm Market = Kat Nelson

Owner of Happy Hour Wines = Kristin Jolley 

Derek Marso = Certified Cicerone for beer, and is eager to learn more about wine

“I followed my heart and it lead me to Happy Hour Wine Co” - Kristin Jolley gave tank to Kat:

"It's important to develop deeper relationships with your customers"

"It's important to add value to your vendor, think long-term when forming relationships with vendors and people that work for you"

Hospitality doesn't have to end at the customer, continue it through to your employees and vendors and people will be happy

Kristin Jolley and her husband, also a firefighter, owns Happy Hour Wine company, and she found inspiration from her great grandfather who was a winemaker, her and her husband divide and conquer the work, love spending time working together, been together over 15 years

Kristin is an Arizona State University graduate

Kristin learned product development and category management from her first job after college at Fresh & Easy

Kristin was inspired and wanted to take perceived intimidation factor out of wine “Making wine approachable, not snobby or complicated,” and wanted to sell wine under 10 dollars a bottle

Trademarked Happy Hour wine by calling the guy who owned the rights, he didn't want to sell so she called him every month for over a year asking him to sell her the trademark, he was 92 years old and she was in her early 20s so he decided to sell due to her persistence and constant follow-ups. PERSISTENCE! PERSISTENCE! PERSISTENCE!

Once she had the trademark it was onto creating branding: a label and a logo, she used a retro style for inspiration:

The label is an analog clock representing every hour in the day, hence "Happy Hour"

The UPC code on the bottle is shaped like a wine glass and scans, too!

It is a very difficult process to get your products into major retailer stores!

Kristin presented her product and vision to the CEO of Fresh & Easy and he loved it, put it in all stores next day! About 150 stores

Open door policy from business owners and your superiors only benefits you if you put in the effort and walk in the door, take initiative and build those relationships. 

When Fresh & Easy went out of business, it forced her to take on Happy Hour Wine full time, which caused the business to flourish

Fresh & Easy closes permanently:

Kristin was introduced to a 4th-generation wine making family in La Mancha, Spain and started to developed their own wines from the Spanish grapes

Happy Hour Wine bottles, labels, and packages everything in Spain, her and her husband go to Spain and bottle all wine themselves! No other employees at this time.

Happy Hour started in 3 states and are now currently in 23 states

Kat and Kristin met at Cali Comfort BBQ! 

Kat Nelson carries around 300 different wines at Valley Farm

Staying true to the Specialty store way, Kat looks for small, family-owned and boutique wines to bring to Valley Farm Market

Kat started in the restaurant industry, starting out bartending, then worked at Prado under a Sommelier, where she started forming relationships in the wine industry

Prado in Balboa Park:

Sommelier Definition: "or wine steward, is a trained and knowledgeable wine professional, normally working in fine restaurants, who specializes in all aspects of wine service as well as wine and food pairing. The role in fine dining today is much more specialized and informed than that of a wine waiter."

Kat started with books: Wine For Dummies, Wine Bible, and was then inspired to become certified as a Sommelier

Kat was a Cohn Restaurant Group employee:

Young's Market sponsored her Sommelier test:

It is very important to never stop learning about what you are interested in and furthering your education. There is always something to learn

Happy Hour Wines are in Cost Plus, Whole Foods, Vons, Albertsons and many others around the United States

Amazon bought Whole Foods and Kristin hasn't noticed much change seen from the wine side of the business

Most Happy Hour Wine sales are through retailers, only a portion from website sales

Kristin notes that State Compliance laws can be a real process... it's not all rainbows and butterflies

Two different wines are called varietals not flavors!

Early next year, Happy Hour Wine may introduce a Rose varietal to their lineup that already consists of a Chardonnay and a Red Blend

Shawn notes the importance of companies having an active presence on social media to help drive their brand

Customers want to connect and know your businesses story, and that's where social media and podcasting helps tell your brand's story 

Happy Hour Wine Co is starting to make a bigger presence in restaurants, including Cali Comfort BBQ, and in the upcoming year they are going to focus on growing a bigger presence in restaurants

Their Red Blend is a blend of Cab, Syrah, and Petit Verdot - this blend bring out the best in the different grapes and they compliment each other

Fun Fact: Happy Hour Wine is vegan and non-gmo, low-sulfites, gluten free, some winemakers use fishbones for filtration, not too many vegan wines out there


Happy Hour harvests the grapes young and then make the wine early on, which causes the wine to taste very fresh

Events are a good way to tell your company story (wine and beer festivals), Happy Hour has a big red table cloth and large interactive display, causing people to post online and engage their fans

Important to put best foot forward when it comes to events, events are your best opportunity to engage with people one on one

Kat will be pouring Happy Hour Wine at the San Diego Zoo

Kristin's personal Instagram: 

Shawn notes "Cory Wagner helped improve the wine selection at Cali Comfort BBQ and he has been an incredible asset to the improved beer and wine program at Cali Comfort"

Valley Farm Market is planning a Happy Hour Wine tasting in the near future

Advice for someone looking to get into the wine industry: "Be ready for a long road ahead, the wine industry is not as glamorous as it appears, there is a lot of work that goes into it behind the scenes"

Kristin explains how happy it makes her to see her wine at other stores and restaurants, "When you see your product on the shelf it makes all the hard work worth it 100%"

Kat and Kristin talk about the negative perceptions of females in the industry... "One struggle is breaking through the barrier of being a younger female business owner" 

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Derek Marso -

Shawn Walchef -

Cory Wagner -

Valley Farm Market - -

Cali Comfort BBQ - - -

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