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IF YOU ASK ABBY RENO, owner of City Vineyard, what wine to have on hand for your next dinner party, she’ll start with some questions to get to know your tastes, followed by more questions about what you’ll be serving. She’s learned that to help a customer find the perfect bottle of wine, it takes both understanding the customer and understanding wine. These days, she’s a skilled matchmaker, but that wasn’t always the case. When Abby was just starting out in the business of wine, a regular customer came into City Vineyard, looking for a Bordeaux. Abby confidently led the older gentleman to a section of red wines at the back of the store. She wasn’t too far into her sales pitch when he placed his hand on her shoulder and gently said, “Honey, you have a lot to learn. I’ll take it from here.” Abby looked at the wine and realized she’d brought him to the burgundy section. “They’re completely different,” Abby says, remembering the flash-bulb moment. “They’re both wine and that’s about it.” Starting that day, she doubled down on her study of wine, its history and the cultures of the countries and regions where the different varieties are grown. She read books, pored over maps and took online courses. Today, five years later, she’s a Level I sommelier, a certified expert in wine, and well on her way to earning her Level II sommelier certificate. “I knew the foundations of business, but I didn’t know wine,” Abby says. “I had to learn wine and apply what I knew about business to this new industry.” Her hard work is evident in every aspect of the airy, sunlit West End store. City Vineyard sells labels from all over the world and the store’s offerings include wines for every taste and pricepoint. One entire wall offers a wide selection of craft beers, and

the in-store gourmet market sells imported meats, cheeses plus other complements for wine and beer. Step a few paces into the lounge and you’ll not only find 25 different wines by the glass, but 20 beers on tap, plus perfectly paired small plates for snacking. On weekends, the lounge serves brunch with mimosas made with fresh-squeezed orange juice. Once a month, you can catch a wine tasting class to help perfect your palette. Abby, 37, is no newcomer to business. She’s been at it since high school, working for her mother Becky Reno, former owner of the Billings-based City Brew franchise, established in 1998. While the initial push was coffee, Becky started City Vineyard in 2000 after realizing there was a niche for an exclusive wine store in Billings. When Becky decided to sell City Brew in 2017, the company had grown to 23 stores in Montana, Wyoming and North Dakota. Abby was the director of operations in the retail division for City Brew from 2006 to 2015. The job required lots of travel as she oversaw the opening of new stores and the marketing of new products. Abby’s strength, according to her mother, has always been customer service. NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2020

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Yellowstone Valley Woman  

Yellowstone Valley Woman magazine was started in 2001 as a 40-page free publication in Yellowstone County. Over the years, thanks to your re...

Yellowstone Valley Woman  

Yellowstone Valley Woman magazine was started in 2001 as a 40-page free publication in Yellowstone County. Over the years, thanks to your re...