Jenna Congdon originally hails from the Santa Cruz Mountains. Most of her teenage years were spent cutting class to head to the beach, or running the forested trails of Nisene Marks State Park, falling in love with the towering redwoods and the dark, woodsy smells of damp earth and moss below. Even with her spotty attendance record, she somehow managed to secure enrollment at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, where she pursued a BA in Liberal Studies, with a concentration in Child Development.
Throughout college, Jenna worked in fine dining, serving and bartending. In her final year as an undergrad, she juggled her class schedule with teaching preschool in the mornings and bartending late into the evenings. Strangely, it was the preschool and not the restaurant that steered Jenna’s career to wine when one of the school’s parents offered Jenna a job in the tasting room at Talley Vineyards in Arroyo Grande. Within six months, she put teaching aside ‘temporarily’ and was promoted to a full-time position in the Talley sales office—her introduction to the wholesale side of the business. Four years later in 2007, a move to Paso Robles brought about a career shift working as a wholesale wine broker. “One of the greatest ironies of my life: I didn’t want to commute 45 miles to work so I took a job as a wine rep and spent the next eight years driving every day across three counties.”
Jenna met Kevin Pike in 2009 when she picked up the WineWise book for her territory, representing the Terry Theise portfolio. Over time, Jenna’s overall frustration at the lack of availability and buyers’ interest in imports on the Central Coast led her to open and run a wine shop and bar for a friend and like-minded restauranteur who shared her love of old world wines. With an ever-rotating facade of small-production worldly wines, The Station quickly became a Mecca for the curious and import-hungry local wine industry. Jenna taught wine classes and seminars at The Station, “People kept asking me what ‘level’ I was, so I figured I should probably do the Somm thing.” After passing her Level One through the Court of Master Sommeliers in 2016, she signed up for the Certified Examination held three weeks later and passed that as well. The same year, she took over as Wine Director for The Station’s parent property, Granada Hotel and Bistro. She wrote the opening list for the company’s newly remodeled Skyview Motel in Los Alamos before leaving the restaurant group in early 2018 with a more flexible schedule in mind.
Today, Jenna consults for two restaurant wine programs in San Luis Obispo, and is excited to be back on the streets again, selling wine for Schatzi. “I missed the travel, the relationships with the growers, and the time spent with my accounts. I’m thrilled to join the Schatzi team, to continue learning about and sharing these beautiful wines, their regions, and their makers.”