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Tim McDonald

Tim McDonald

In 2006, Tim McDonald established his business Wine & Spirits Spoken Here. The company provides public relations and reputation management to the wine and spirits industry.

McDonald said one of the key elements of his work centers on story telling.

“Telling your story is step one,” said McDonald. “Step two is sharing that story.”

1. What was your first job?

Food server at the Stardust Hotel Las Vegas, Nevada.

2. What’s the worst job you ever had?

Summer job as a drapery installer Caesars Palace Las Vegas (no air conditioning).

3. How did you get into the wine industry?

As a restaurant manager in Las Vegas and Honolulu, my interaction with the liquor sales reps always made me smile and thought it would be nice to have a 9-5 sort of job.

So while living in Honolulu I got an offer to work as a sales rep for the largest distributor of spirits, beer and wines in the islands—McKesson. I moved to the Bay Area to work for Seagram wine and spirits national accounts... which eventually led us to Napa.

4. What is the biggest challenge your industry has faced?

The business of marketing & public relations agency work is challenging because the number of choices on a shelf/screen or beverage list. How to make the consumer try and buy your brand with the growing number of options in restaurants and retail? When and how much does a winery budget to achieve good PR and smart story telling?

The industry’s largest challenges are: America’s outdated regulatory system and distribution, health issues, other choices like cannabis, cocktails and IPAs, lack of transparency and truthiness in labeling and the path to direct sales to consumers.

5. Who do you most admire in the business world?

Terry Wheatley from Vintage Wine Estates, Ken Frank owner of La Toque and Ernest Gallo.

6. What do you like so much about wine?

Wine is one of those condiments at meal time that makes everything a little better. It’s the social sharing of food and wine. You can’t tango without two people, right? One is not good. Two is better.

7. If you could change one thing about your industry, what would it be?

American consumer’s direct access to all wines and spirits unfettered by the three-tier system.

8. If you could give your younger self any advice, what would it be?

Don’t work hard, work smart. Don’t take yourself too seriously.

In younger days, you were always worried about what everybody is going to think about you. And once you get past that you realize it’s not about me. It’s about this brand, this product. You’re always connecting the dots.

9. What’s something people might be surprised to know about you?

Wedding officiant, occasionally.

10. What is one thing you hope to accomplish in your lifetime that you haven’t yet?

To be kind to others and to always figure out a way to forgive people.

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For more from McDonald, email tim@wineandspiritsspokenhere.com.

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Business Editor

Jennifer Huffman is the business editor and a general assignment reporter for the Napa Valley Register. I cover a wide variety of topics for the newspaper. I've been with the Register since 2005.