Meet Chad from Underdog Wine Co.
What is your title at Underdog Wine Co.?
Manager, head shelf stocker, window washer and wine guy.
How long have you been at Underdog Wine Co.?
I have been with Underdog for nearly a year now, though it was years in the making, Ryan S. and I were just waiting for the right opportunity. It’s a fun story to tell about how Ryan and I became acquainted but it is much too long for this, if you want to hear more stop in and ask me about it.
Where are you originally from? How long have you been in KC?
I grew up in a small rural town east of Springfield, Missouri with a population of 500 people. I spent most of my adult life in Branson, Missouri where I caught the wine bug and I haven’t looked back. I moved to KC on December 1, 2014 and it has been a wonderful ride.
What got you interested in wine?
I started working at a small 22 seat restaurant called Table 22 in Branson, Missouri. It only had 22 seats and was haute food driven and wine focused. The owner also had a small wine store about the size of Underdog just a few doors down from the restaurant, and that set the tone for the rest of my career. I have always been fascinated with history and was a serious student in college. Wine allowed me to keep learning and growing in my knowledge and understanding of the world. I think what solidified wine as a career for me was the first old bottle of wine I ever experienced. It was a bottle of 1945 Rivesaltes, history came alive for me that day. To think about what was going on in the world in 1945, the winemaker who has now passed on, all the history of Europe and the United States, all in that bottle, and it made its way to the Ozark Mountains for me to enjoy- that’s something special. The multitude of that left a lasting impression on me and I love sharing those experiences with others so perhaps they might have an “ah ha” moment as well. Unfortunately, both businesses are closed now but I will always have the great memories, skills and lifelong friends.
What is your favorite every day drink?
There has never been a better time to be in the beverage industry, we have so many options and it is all very exciting. If I’m drinking wine, I typically drink Italian wines from the area known as Piedmont. Piedmont is located in North West Italy at the base of the Alps. In truth, Piedmont roughly translates to “the base of the mountain”. Not only is the landscape jaw-droppingly gorgeous but the wines that hail from there are some of the most complex, interesting and absolutely delicious wines to be found. The variety of the wines are extraordinary as well, you can have super sweet sippers such as Moscato di Asti, to mouthwatering huge tannin clad Nebbiolo’s. The wines are very versatile with food and you can drink the wines of Piedmont on their own too. The best thing is the price point; you can pick up whites and reds for sub 15 bucks.
What do you like to do outside of work?
I enjoy cars a lot, me and a local group of friends travel to different racetracks around the Midwest honing our driving skills through track days and HPDE (high performance driving education). This year has been a rebuilding year for me, as I started a complete custom track car build, lots of time and money but when you are on track and the adrenaline kicks in there is no better feeling in the world. It is very addicting and when you see a car ahead of you and you start chasing them down, it’s amazing how hard you can push yourself and the car. Next year I hope to be able to enter a few endurance races (8 hours, 12 hours) with the team and see how well we can do. I would always encourage anyone with the slightest inkling of being involved in motorsports to sit shotgun with someone as they go around the track or participate in local AutoX or HPDE events. It will make you a better driver and you will gain more understanding of your car’s capabilities, which are much higher than our own in general.
The other thing I enjoy most is cooking, and I love cooking for people. One of my most favorite things in the world is handmade pasta, it’s simple and easy to make and it tastes delicious; plus if you can roll out the pasta before the water boils it makes for a great parlor trick!
What is your favorite part about Union Hill? Kansas City?
I enjoy the people of Union Hill the most. The community is vibrant and wanting to see positive changes in the neighborhood. There is no greater joy in my day than when the local Union Hill residents stop in to say hello and ask me what is new in the store, or ask for recommendations for wine pairings either at home or over at Cafe Europa. Thirsty Thursdays, our weekly wine tasting from 5-6:30 p.m., allow me a chance to catch up with the neighborhood, a real community gathering place where neighbors can mingle and meet, it’s a wonderful way to witness the community. I enjoy the walkability of the neighborhood, and of course when the residents bring their dogs by and allow me to give them treats. I love being the neighborhood treat dealer. The whole community vibe of Union Hill is fantastic and I have fallen in love with it.
Kansas City, I love how it is the biggest small town. In my industry, everyone knows everyone and I love being able to go to any restaurant in town and know the staff and ownership. KC has a great entrepreneurial presence and go-getter attitude. I think the Royals run to the championship a few years ago captured the spirit of the city and our no quit attitude. I love that. The hospitality, generosity, and commitment to excellence of the citizens of KC is truly infectious and I’m very proud to call Kansas City home.