Meet Your Merchant: Raising a glass to a unique pairing of business owners | SierraSun.com

Meet Your Merchant: Raising a glass to a unique pairing of business owners

Jenny GoldsmithSierra Sun

Photo by Jenny Goldsmith Kali Kopley and Debbie Metcalf were an unlikely pairing of business owners, but were brought together by a shared passion for pinot noir and chardonnay. They now co-own three successful wine bars in the Truckee-Tahoe region and say most of their knowledge of wine comes from tasting and experience.

TAHOE/TRUCKEE andamp;#8212; What do a social worker and a retired school administrator have in common?In the real world, the answer is probably nothing, but in North Lake Tahoe, these two unique individuals share a love of pinot noir and chardonnay. Oh, and they also share three successful wine bars, one tapas and wine restaurant and one slow-food soup caf all located throughout the North Tahoe region.More than five years ago, Kali Kopley decided to ditch one bar for another. She was shifting her career from social work to law school when she started having second thoughts about moving back east.andamp;#8220;I had lived in Tahoe for a few years and I loved it, so when the opportunity to open a wine shop in Squaw presented itself, I decided not to move to Boston and instead got into the wine business andamp;#8212; I just went for it blindly,andamp;#8221; Kopley said during a snowy afternoon at recently opened Uncorked in Truckee. andamp;#8220;I didn’t have a background in wine at all; I liked it and I drank it and I always tell people when I first started I loved wine, but I didn’t know anything about it.andamp;#8221;In February 2007, she opened the doors to Uncorked in the village at Squaw Valley and didn’t need a panel of jurors to tell her she had made the right choice.andamp;#8220;I would make a terrible lawyer,andamp;#8221; the ski aficionado said with a burst of laughter.After successfully operating the establishment for a few years, a couple from North Lake Tahoe began to frequent Kopley’s drinkable business. andamp;#8220;My husband and I really enjoyed drinking wine, and that’s how we met Kali,andamp;#8221; said Tahoe City resident Debbie Metcalf.As a retired school administrator, Metcalf wasn’t looking for a new career, but when a space in Tahoe City’s Cobblestone Center became available, she and her wine connoisseur husband couldn’t stop envisioning filling the space with fine wines.andamp;#8220;We really enjoyed Uncorked and the whole set-up, and it’s how we envisioned Corkscrews in Tahoe City to be as well,andamp;#8221; Metcalf said. andamp;#8220;We knew that if we opened more wine shops, we would come together as a group and that’s exactly what happened.andamp;#8221;Almost two years ago, the trio combined forces under one umbrella andamp;#8212; Uncorked andamp;#8212; and embarked on a business venture that none of them could have foreseen.andamp;#8220;I’ve always enjoyed wine and it’s always been a hobby, but I definitely didn’t see myself doing this as a career,andamp;#8221; Metcalf says with a brief pause before smiling and continuing. andamp;#8220;I feel so fortunate and I’m so happy to have stumbled into this business.andamp;#8221;Metcalf serves as the organizational czar behind the business, focusing her efforts on bookkeeping and maintaining the structure of the business, while Kopley runs the front lines.andamp;#8220;She (Kopley) has the ability to be in 20 places at one time, and I don’t think anyone can multitask better than Kali can,andamp;#8221; Metcalf said of her business partner. andamp;#8220;I’m more of structured person and I tend to be more methodical about what I do.andamp;#8221;andamp;#8220;Debbie thinks things through andamp;#8212; it’s great to have a different perspective on things and know how to make things run a little smoother so operations can be better all the way around,andamp;#8221; Kopley reverberates.That blend of ownership enticed the bubbly entrepreneurs to take Uncorked to the next level, pairing wining with dining through the opening of Petra in Northstar California andamp;#8212; a modern, tapas restaurant featuring fine wines and eclectic appetizers. andamp;#8220;Opening Petra was definitely more of a challenge and I think Kali and I would both agree that opening Uncorked was significantly easier,andamp;#8221; Metcalf said. andamp;#8220;But it’s been a great learning experience and I think it’s turned out fantastic … we’re really proud of it so it was well worth the challenge.andamp;#8221;Adding food to the mixture of business ingredients did put their taste buds to the test, but with Kopley’s background in owning Soupa in Squaw Valley, she brought a special level of expertise to the table.andamp;#8220;Through Petra, you can see that combination of Soup and Uncorked,andamp;#8221; Metcalf said. andamp;#8220;It really brings it all together for us.andamp;#8221;With two wine bars, one tapas restaurant and one soup caf under their belts, you’d think the petit pair would put a cork in opening businesses, but when the opportunity to take over a space in downtown Truckee presented itself, they couldn’t resist a taste of ownership among the bustling commercial row.In February 2012, exactly five years after opening Uncorked in Squaw Valley, Kopley and the Metcalfs opened Uncorked in Truckee andamp;#8212; a venture that will likely prove fruitful come the thirsty summer months.andamp;#8220;It’s such a great location and it’s awesome to be in Truckee and have the Uncorked label right on main street,andamp;#8221; Kopley said.Each wine bar features a wide variety of whites and reds from boutique wineries throughout California, Washington and Oregon, as well as Europe, New Zealand, Australia and South America.andamp;#8220;We are so spoiled to have so many great winemakers in our backyard,andamp;#8221; Kopley said. andamp;#8220;The biggest element of the wine industry is that it’s very personal so we’re looking for winemakers with passion and a unique story to tell about their wines.andamp;#8221;For these wine lovers, raising a glass to local businesses may be the most important element of Uncorked. Both Kopley and Metcalf share a love of pinots and chards, but they also share a passion for community service. andamp;#8220;There are so many different charities and auctions, and whenever a local nonprofit asks, we always give whether it be wine tasting opportunities for groups, bottles of wine, glasses, gift certificates, wines for events, we try to spread ourselves out as much as possible,andamp;#8221; Kopley said. andamp;#8220;It’s so important to give back to your community and it’s something we feel very strongly about.andamp;#8221;