Reading: When She Knew She Was a Nasty Woman

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When She Knew She Was a Nasty Woman

After the election, Meg Murray decided it was time to stop whining and start wine-ing

By Katie Weisman

Meg Murray is indeed a nasty woman.

She buys cheeky domain names—just for the hell of it. “I bought worldsbiggestasshole.com at one point,” she says. “Unfortunately, I let it lapse. But boy, do I have ideas for it today.”

The 39 year old picked up www.nastywomanwines.com, thinking it would “be a fun domain to have” as well. “I would bottle some wine under the brand and just figure it out from there,” she admits. Murray was inspired to adopt the phrase the moment it became famous during the last minutes of the final Presidential Debate in October 2016. Hillary Clinton was in the midst of discussing how she would raise taxes on wealthy Americans and said: “My Social Security payroll contribution will go up, as will Donald’s, assuming he can’t figure out how to get out of it.” That’s when candidate Donald J. Trump slammed his opponent as a “nasty woman.”

Believing America would be electing its first female president and Nasty Woman Wines would become “a fun, celebratory, tongue-in-cheek” brand, Murray insisted her attorney file the trademark on Election Day 2016. The next morning however, she says she “was on my kitchen floor with tears running down my face. I was in disbelief at the election results. My five-year-old daughter turned and asked when she could run for president. Something clicked. She asked ‘when’ not ‘if.’ I became proud that she had witnessed a strong woman running for the highest office in our land. I became hopeful that real progress had been made. I also became determined. I knew I needed to do something to assure progress wouldn’t slip backwards.”

Photo of Meg Murray by Carolyn Wells-Kramer

So Murray really “got nasty” and decided her mission was to create progressive and delectable wines that would help get women to the table as leaders and tastemakers. Despite the fact that women have broken down barriers over the last fifty years, Murray finds it “appalling” and “unacceptable” that women hold only 22% of public service leadership positions worldwide. Murray is not only determined to make great wines under the Nasty Woman label but also will donate 20% of net profits to causes and organizations that support women and women’s rights, such as the Women in Public Service Project.

“If we’re doing our job right, our wines will make you think and make you take action,” Murray says. “Instead of taking that misogynistic term and backing away from it, we are running with it.”

She continues: “We’ve been feminists in the past, but there’s been an apology behind it. Now, we’re coming out unapologetically strong and powerful, and we will persist. So for my rosé, it’s an Unapologetically Refreshing Oregon rosé. For Boss Lady Bubbles, it’s Unapologetically Vibrant Washington bubbly. For my Pantsuit Pinot Noir–is an Unapologetically Tasty Oregon Pinot Noir.”

Nasty Woman Wines are also unapologetically serious wines. Murray and her husband Jerry have a wine consultancy, Elevage Consulting, where Meg, who has always been interested in the business side of the wine industry, focuses on marketing, operations and logistics for clients while Jerry is the winemaker and vineyard guru. In fact, Jerry, whom Meg considers a feminist, is a highly regarded winemaker and is also considered a pinot noir expert, talents which undoubtedly helped him land the job of winemaker at Domaine Anderson, an Anderson Valley, California producer of pinot noir and chardonnay wines owned since 2009 by the Rouzaud family of Champagne Louis Roederer and Cristal Champagne fame. Meg relies on their combined expertise along with that of their colleagues in the wine business to create her blends and get them to market at impressive speed.

“I am the winemaker for Nasty Woman Wines but not without serious help from some amazing veteran winemakers, namely, my husband Jerry, who has been making wine for a couple decades,” Meg states, acknowledging her spouse’s full support of the Nasty Woman Wines endeavor.

“My pinot noir was in barrels in friends’ cellars. I got to put it together and created a blend through the support of the wine community,” she explains, adding that she plans to invite female winemakers to create some blends for her label.

The female touch is, and will continue to be, an important part of the labeling at Nasty Woman. The first label features Bronté La Rue Ranche, a Nasty Woman and stylist who just happens to be the daughter of the graphic designer who created the Nasty Woman Wine’s label. Labels for limited edition vintages might include important female leaders such as the one for 2015 Represent Red Malbec Washington which features Mona Das, a businesswoman from an Indian immigrant family who is now running for Congress in Washington State’s 8th District. [Editor’s Note: Long after this article was underway, Murray convinced CoveyClub founder, Lesley Jane Seymour to appear on a Nasty Woman label.Update: Mona Das suspended her campaign in January 2018]

The various wines from Nasty Woman have not been reviewed by major wine publications yet, but the reviews Murray has gotten in the past have been positive.

“Willamette Valley Pinot Noir is great and only getting better, and in the Murrays’ crafty hands, you will get a really great taste of the region many people are calling the Burgundy of the New World, but which we west-coasters prefer to simply call ‘Oregon,’” wrote Amy Glynn in Paste Magazine, a music and entertainment webzine in March 2017. “Upshot? Tasty wine made by forward-thinking folks on a mission. Join them in raising a glass to equal opportunity, defiance in the face of injustice, and a well-structured and pleasing mid-palate with soft-but not too soft-tannins. Win-win!”

Murray’s challenge, however, is not simply making a delicious, drinkable beverage, but also getting the wines to the customer. While Murray can sell online and self-distribute in her home state of Oregon, distribution and laws governing cross-state-border wine sales that date to Prohibition are cumbersome, making it difficult to get Nasty Woman Wines onto store shelves. Murray says some male distributors fear the political bent of The Nasty Woman label could dampen sales to some buyers.

One way to increase visibility, Murray believes, is to partner with chefs and restaurants and female-centric events. Murray also believes her free #GetNasty wine club, which delivers three bottles of Nasty Woman Wine each quarter, will help boost sales and spread the word. Each shipment will include at least one limited production wine reserved for Wine Club members. The club offers a 10% discount and shipping fees range from $80-99 depending on the number of bottles ordered. There is flat-rate shipping and a 50% break on shipping costs when six or more bottles are ordered.

Murray, who spent her first eight years living in West Virginia, was later raised in Oregon where she lives today, in the state’s lush wine country with Jerry and their daughter. She credits her progressive parents with igniting her passion for justice and women’s rights. Her father, whom she dubs “a Nasty Woman,” was once a professor at West Virginia University. He marched with Martin Luther King, Jr. and lived in “intentional communities” in the South during the Civil Rights Movement. “He taught me and my sister that we had a voice and to use it, to honor differences but to speak up when injustices occur,” Murray recalls.

Murray says her mother was also a Nasty Woman. She worked in child development, identifying kids with disabilities and advocating for them; she also worked with socio-economically disadvantaged families to help their kids be the best they could be. Murray credits her mother with creating a generation of Nasty Women, not just within her immediate family, but with all the parents and children she assisted and supported.

“Both my parents have since passed,” Murray notes, “but I believe they would be toasting me with a glass of Boss Lady Bubbles if they were here with me.”

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