Sonia Williamson and her fiance Michael Ruhland are the team that makes Blend amazing. While Bozeman is not known as winemaking country, Sonia and Michael have proven that it can be done, and done deliciously! Sonia agreed to answer some questions about Blend, herself, and her thoughts on the Bozeman community.
What is your favorite part about the work you do?
The easy joke is 'wine drinking'. It comes with the territory and nobody complains when sipping wine is a mandatory part of the gig, but on a deeper level, our favorite part of the work is getting to know our customers as fellow wine lovers and talking wine experiences with them. There's something really special about hearing what their pivotal wine moments have been—from favorite wine regions to the first time they had a wine that struck them or a meal that they can't forget with a special bottle.
What does community mean to you?
What does community mean to you?
To us, community is about the ways we all help each other out. There are all these fantastic businesses in Bozeman with so many talented and dedicated entrepreneurs and there are so many ways to share skills and talents among that pool. We love being a part of that side of things—sourcing from local food producers, collaborating with local florists, showcasing wine at local wedding venues—and we also consider community to be what happens naturally in our space. We love getting to know our wine drinkers and the easy shift of customers becoming friends. We've loved seeing regulars and wine club members get to know each other while they're in the space and become friends as well. That is the heart of community to us. Closeness and friendships coming from supporting and enjoying each other.
Where is your favorite place to eat, get a drink, etc?
We've always been the biggest fans of Feast and Plonk. Sometimes after a long night of pouring wine at Blend, we just need a drink, ironic as that is, and Plonk is our go-to for that. Feast is our number one date-night pick (they pour our Merlot by the glass and it's crazy how well it pairs with their bittersweet chocolate mousse #notanad #justhugefans). We also love a good afternoon of playing cribbage and drinking sour beers at Mountains Walking.
What do you want customers to know about your business?
That we're doing something really unique in Bozeman AND that we have fantastic food. We've done a lot of different things in the first year of being open, as a new business we've been getting our footing, but what we are focusing on moving forward is the simple but powerful combination of food and wine. Think of us as a restaurant that creates our own wine. Being a winery in the middle of Montana means we have a bit of a story to tell. The vineyards we source grapes from aren't growing somewhere between here and Hyalite—we source our grapes from Washington so we can make the types of high-quality wine that we do—and we age and bottle locally. But we are completely hand-on and we're so proud of the vineyards we're working within Washington. As we create our wines we try to bring insight into the behind-the-scenes of the winemaking process. (For the curious @blendbzn on Instagram is where we usually share those stories.)
Do you have any hidden talents?
Not yoga, that's for sure. The ability to juggle eleventy billion things at one time like a pro-clown? Woodworking, actually. The craft of being a chef and winemaker naturally rolls over into other things created by hand so woodworking is the underrated hidden talent around here.