We had the good fortune of connecting with Monica Pontrelli and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Monica, is there something that you feel is most responsible for your success?
Nectar of the Dogs Wine was created to celebrate our love of dogs and wine, and most importantly to honor rescue dogs – those we’ve loved and lost, and those that continue to bring joy to our lives. Our mission is to give back to non-profit dog rescue organizations, so as long as we’re able to continue to make those donations every year and shine a light on the rescue community and the amazing work they do to help dogs in need, then our brand is doing what it was meant to do. Establishing relationships with our rescue partners, understanding their needs in addition to staying up-to-date on the wine industry and expanding our wine knowledge are important parts of our brand’s success. Our partnerships and the quality of our product is essential because no one will regret buying a really good bottle of wine knowing that a portion of the sales is benefiting a great cause.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I currently serve as the PR director for Nectar of the Dogs Wine. With nearly 20 years of public relations experience – none of it in wine, and most of it in the video game industry – I joined my good friend Melanie Garibay (co-founder and CEO of Nectar of the Dogs Wine) on an all-new adventure in the world of wine and dogs. All of my experience in wine at that point had been in sampling wines from around the world – bottled, boxed or canned – no discrimination there. I now hold a WSET Level 1 certification in wine, so I’ve learned a thing or two. I’ve continued my wine education with the Napa Valley Wine Academy to keep expanding my wine knowledge – there’s so much to learn! Plus, I grew up with dogs in my life – all of them rescues. We often found lost dogs and after posting flyers and knocking on doors, we would end up with a new family member. So, the company’s mission was very meaningful to me, making it an easy ‘yes’ when asked to jump into this new industry and help build awareness for the brand. The rescue community is amazing and such an inspiration. It’s been a huge challenge and learning experience, but I don’t regret a thing. I love dogs and I love wine, so learning more about each of these industries has been a lot of fun and incredibly rewarding.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I love when friends visit! We live in such an incredible city that has so much to offer in just about every category. I live in the San Fernando Valley, which often gets overlooked and we have amazing places here, so I would want to highlight those for anyone coming into town. Monday, we’d hit up Waffle Love in Northridge for breakfast, take a little hike in one of our nearby canyons (Limekiln is a favorite), grab some lunch and a drink at Taps (our local Valley gastropub), take a nap! and then sushi for dinner – Sushi Raw in Granada hills is our go-to, but Okumura in Encino is great too. Tuesday, we’ll take a trip over to Simi Valley, take the dog up the Simi Valley Dog Park above Big Sky Park (the best dog park in the area and the view is awesome), stop in at The Dugout for some lunch and take a stroll at the Simi Valley Town Center. Wednesday we’ll take a trip down to the Sherman Oaks/Encino area. Sweet Butter Kitchen is delicious and there’s great people watching right there on Ventura Blvd. There are such cute stores along Ventura that there’s plenty to do by foot (as long as it’s not the middle of summer!). On the way to Three Dog Bakery to pick up some special treats for the pup, we’ll stop in at Tipsy Cow or Blue Dog Beer Tavern for lunch. The Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Reserve is a beautiful place to relax, take a walk or have a picnic. The Japanese Garden (when it’s open) is a highlight. Dinner at Mizlala – hands down one of the best Mediterranean restaurants there is. We’ll have to find time to visit Downtown LA too and take stroll through the Row DTLA. Rappahannock Oyster Bar can’t be missed, but you can probably spend an entire day shopping and eating your way through everything they have to offer there. I also just learned that one of our favorites – The Jolly Oyster, now has a location at the Citizen Public Market in Culver City! Also not to be missed are the many craft breweries popping up across the Valley – 818, MacLeod, Cellador and Hand-Brewed Beer are just a few that are delivering some special beer and experiences.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
It’s hard to narrow this down to just one person or organization, so I’d like to give a shoutout to all of our rescue partners for everything they do on a daily basis to save animals in need. It requires so much dedication and selflessness. I love following their stories on social media and feel inspired by the lives they touch and love they bring into each animal’s life. Love at First Mutt, Deity Animal Rescue, The Animal Rescue Mission, Delaney’s Dog, K9 Youth Alliance, spcaLA and Chiquita’s Friends are just a some of the rescues we partner with. Thank you to all of them and the entire rescue community for everything they do!