In 2013, Chris Montana had a crazy idea to start a distillery in the middle of the city he loved. The goal was to start a family business that would bring together Shanelle Montana's rural upbringing on a Cold Spring, MN farm and Chris' experience growing up in Minneapolis. The result is Du Nord Craft Spirits, a scrappy distillery born of rural practicality and city vibe. Since 2013, the Du Nord family has grown from those small beginnings; what we do today is a result of the collective efforts of a group of people who bring their unique talents to the Du Nord team. Du Nord is committed to diversifying the craft alcohol community and actively recruits the underrepresented communities of women and racial minorities to join the Du Nord family.
Shanelle Montana's path wound from a small farm in central Minnesota to college in St. Paul, and a Masters degree in Washington, D.C. While living on the east coast, she maintained her Minnesota cred: showing the state of Maryland how to fish and finding time to return to the woods for the deer hunting opener. Even though on a daily basis Shanelle focuses on making sure the lights stay on by developing renewable energy projects, she also manages regulatory and reporting requirements and leads Du Nord marketing.
Chris Montana grew up in several different neighborhoods in Minneapolis but spent most of his time in South Minneapolis and Prospect Park. Chris attended public schools in Minneapolis and later earned an English degree from the University of the District of Columbia, and a law degree from Hamline University. Chris is still a licensed attorney, but prefers to make booze. Chris' first passion was electoral politics which led to travels all over the country and eventually to work as a congressional aide in D.C. (working for Minneapolis of course). Chris used his organizing skills to convince a smart and sassy intern named Shanelle to give him the time of day; it only took him 7 years. When not making booze or sifting through paperwork, Chris is usually eating a dessert of some kind while playing with his sons. Chris wears many hats but primarily acts as CEO and head distiller.
Ann holds dual degrees in Environmental Studies and Studio Art from St. Olaf College and has a wealth of experience in seemingly random jobs: biological technician, cobbler (making shoes not dessert), and produce buyer for a local co-op. None of those jobs offered the opportunity to smell like fermented corn on a daily basis, so joining Du Nord was a no-brainer. Ann joined Du Nord in May of 2015 and quickly took the joint over. Ann does a little bit of everything, champion forklift driver, queen of mashing, supply ordering master, etc. On a day-to-day basis Ann assists head distiller Chris Montana with all aspects of the production side of Du Nord. Ann can often be seen riding her vintage motorcycle and/or listening to 90s pop music. If you are sipping L'etoile Du Nord Vodka in the cocktail room, there is a good chance Ann made it from start to finish.
Ed has been friends with co-owner Chris Montana since 2000, when they met as YMCA camp counselors. Since then, Ed played a critical role in getting the Cocktail Room off the ground in 2015, and has been involved at one time or another in nearly every aspect of Du Nord. He brings a wealth of bartending knowledge along with a great attitude to Du Nord. Ed holds an M.Ed. from the U of M in Youth Development Leadership, and was practically meant to be a camp counselor. He spends his days planning campus life activities for the University of St. Thomas, and his nights cracking up our guests with his epic camp jokes while giving tours of the Du Nord distillery. Ed has an iron stomach and claims the spiciest of foods to be wimpy.
A cowboy at heart, Ty moved to Minneapolis from his native Queens, New York, just in time for the opening of the Cocktail Room. We like to think it was meant to be, but it’s more accurate to say Ty moved to Minnesota to pursue his acting and modeling career. Much to his chagrin, Ty is constantly being compared to Zoolander. Ty loves exploring the Twin Cities through its bars, beaches, parks, co-ops, restaurants, and pony corrals; he can often be found rollerblading on the Greenway or drinking a kale smoothie while snapchatting at one of the local co-ops. Ty put together our monthly improv nights, and both performs as an improviser and works as a TA for local improv classes.
Matt is well known in South Minneapolis as both a friendly bartender with an epic mustache, and as a standup fighter for social justice. Since the opening of the Cocktail Room, Matt has been greeting Du Nord’s guests with a smile and often a palm-wrecking high-five. Before earning his B.A. in public relations, Matt spent three years living in China and perfecting his Mandarin speaking skills. When he’s not behind the bar, Matt spends his time working for Neighborhoods Organizing for Change, where he helps grassroots efforts work toward better social and economic justice in the Twin Cities and beyond.
Shannon is a Minnesota native and another of our original bar staff who was crucial in setting up the Cocktail Room. In addition to being a killer bartender, Shannon is studying as an apprentice tattooer at 7th Street Tattoo in St. Paul. We also have Shannon to thank for our beautiful chalkboards around the Cocktail Room. If she’s not bartending, tattooing, or doing other artsy things, Shannon can usually be found in the wilderness enjoying a hike or kayak trip. Modern medicine has yet to determine how Shannon subsists entirely on cold press, Du Nord’s jalapeno salt, and Taco Cat nachos.
Lindsey joined Du Nord in 2015 in an official capacity, but she had been a part of the family for a while by then. As a patron in the cocktail room, Lindsey would often introduce first-timers to Du Nord, so we hired her to do just that! Lindsey earner her B.S. from St. Catherine University. You may find Lindsey hanging out in the Cocktail Room or you may see her at a liquor store preaching the gospel of Minneapolis-made booze.
Though her loving parents named her Melissa, we know her as Mel. Mel is yet another YMCA camp Ihduhapi connection; she worked there with Ed and Chris in 2000. Whats more, her fiance also worked at the same camp. As it happens, talking about booze is a bit removed from working as a camp counselor, but Mel has extensive experience working at Twin Cities bars and restaurants so she is well in her element. She has a cat named Everest who, so far as we know, has never summited any peak of note. If you see Mel at a tasting or an event, odds are you will have a good laugh.
Denise's ever positive attitude may be bewildering to some, but we have come to know and love it. Though usually working events, Denise has also been sighted behind the bar doing a little bit of everything. Denise has worn several hats: accountant, dancer, film actor, event planner, and travel agent. She knows jiu jitsu, how to play the piano, and a number of unpronounceable yoga disciplines. Perhaps the most striking fact about Denise is her love for chocolate mayonnaise cake. The revelation of this cake love sent shock waves through the Du Nord family, and we are still trying to make sense of it. Nonetheless, if you see Denise out at an event, say hi, but don't badmouth her mayo cake... she knows jiu jitsu.
Josef is a Milwaukee native with some serious Packers pride and a head full of interesting statistics and trivia tidbits. Josef is a Du Nord jack-of-all-trades, serving as barback, bartender, prep-master, and tour guide. Josef is a self-described Saint Paul Switchel addict, and has turned many customers onto Switchel. Thankfully, Josef’s penchant for theatricality can also be lucrative; as an actor, he has experience in commercials and local theater productions, including playing Tommy in “Trainspotting” at the Phoenix Theater in 2016. Although we would love for Josef to grow old with Du Nord, he and his wife are planning to move to New York city at the end of the summer to further pursue his acting career. Watch out for Josef on Broadway!