What We're Selling

How This Sales Manager Transformed a Passion for German Wine Into a Career

When it was time to leave restaurants, Amy Waller leveraged specialized knowledge to move into sales and education at The German Wine Collection. Here are five bottles she’s excited to sell right now

A headshot of Amy Waller sipping a German Riesling
Amy Waller made the shift from restaurants to regional sales and education with The German Wine Collection. Photo courtesy of Amy Waller.

Amy Waller has worked in hospitality for most of her life, having grown up washing dishes and serving tables at her mom’s rural Minnesota restaurant. Though she never intended to continue working in restaurants, the pull to hospitality was strong after she graduated from college. As Waller shifted her focus into wine and management roles at several Minneapolis restaurants, she landed at The Bachelor Farmer in 2016, later becoming the restaurant’s wine director.

It was there that Waller first started getting into the wines of Germany, thanks to the number of German Rieslings that former wine director Erin Rolek had on The Bachelor Farmer’s list. “I remember having my first Grosses Gewächs Riesling and thinking, ‘I’ve never had a wine like this,’” she recalls. “It had intensity, purity, fruit, complexity.” As Waller tasted more German wines, like Silvaner and Scheurebe, her passion for the country’s wines grew, and in 2019, Wines of Germany approached Waller to be a German wine ambassador, conducting online seminars and events.

When the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered The Bachelor Farmer, Waller started thinking about other wine industry sectors. She moved into retail at Minneapolis’s France 44, developing online programming for the shop, but Waller’s love for German wine tugged at the back of her mind—as did a dinner several years back with The German Wine Collection president Jenna Fields. 

“I thought if I niched down, I would be limiting myself,” says Waller. “But the more I niched down, the more I loved it, and the more I could see that I could have a future just working with German wine.” She worked up the nerve to email Fields about joining the team at The German Wine Collection, which specializes in bringing top-quality German wine into the U.S., and in March 2023, she did just that.

Today, Waller manages sales and education in 16 states from the Dakotas to Maine, plus Washington, D.C.. As a regional manager, she has a lot more ground to cover than that of your average sales rep, which requires strong communication with her distribution partners. “Some of my markets I know very well, like Minnesota, where I’m based, and some less well,” says Waller. “With my distributor, we create a plan [for when I’m in the market], such as trade lunches or consumer events.”

Even when she isn’t traveling, Waller actively works to build relationships with buyers in her markets. Instagram has proved to be a valuable tool to reach out to retailers and beverage directors she doesn’t know, and many people reach out to her through social media as well. Having worked on the other side of the sales relationship, Waller always does her research about the wine program she’s trying to sell into before meeting with a buyer. 

“It’s important to really listen to them about what their program needs are—is there a menu change coming up, for instance?” she notes. “When I’m introducing new grape varieties, I look at what I can lateral for this wine and point out where I could see possibilities for this to fill in [a hole in the program].”

Though The German Wine Collection’s portfolio is focused—just 21 family-owned and operated growers from a single country—Waller doesn’t feel that it limits her sales opportunities. “We have such incredible diversity in the portfolio—within regions and grape varieties and styles and price points,” she says. “German wine is a category that people have a preconceived notion of, but the story couldn’t be any more different now.”

SevenFifty Daily caught up with Waller to find out which wines have been in her sales bag recently, especially as buyers get their lists ready for summer. (Listed are suggested retail prices for each bottle.)

Meyer Näkel Rosé 2023
Meyer Näkel Rosé 2023. Photo courtesy of The German Wine Collection.

Meyer Näkel Rosé 2023, Ahr; $37

Waller’s history with the Meyer Näkel Rosé predates her time with The German Wine Collection; it was on the wine list at The Bachelor Farmer. “Every year when that wine showed up, I knew spring was here,” she says. It’s crafted by sisters Meike and Dörte Näkel, whose grandfather founded the estate and was one of the pioneers of dry red wine in the Ahr. The 100-percent Spätburgunder (or Pinot Noir) rosé is exceptionally well-balanced and textured, with luscious strawberry flavors, Waller says. “How could you not want to be out on a patio drinking that wine?”

Wirsching Iphöfer Silvaner ‘Kalb’ 2022
Wirsching Iphöfer Silvaner ‘Kalb’ 2022. Photo courtesy of The German Wine Collection.

Wirsching Iphöfer Silvaner ‘Kalb’ 2022, Franken; $45

Waller traveled to Chicago for the first ever Silvaner Summit in May, where 14th-generation CEO Andrea Wirsching led a master class about her family’s iconic Silvaners. “Germany is the place for Silvaner, and it’s really important in the Franken region,” says Waller. “It goes with watercress, ramps, fiddlehead ferns, all these beautiful spring vegetables that are showing up—especially asparagus.” She compares the Wirsching ‘Kalb’ Silvaner to Grüner Veltliner, with herbal character accompanying subtle fruit and lots of bright acidity.

Pfeffingen Scheurebe 2022
Pfeffingen Scheurebe 2022. Photo courtesy of The German Wine Collection.

Pfeffingen Scheurebe 2022, Pfalz; $25

“What are we doing if we’re not paying attention to Scheurebe?” asks Waller. “It’s an exploration grape for both consumers and trade.” A lesser-known German variety on the rise, Scheurebe tends to be very aromatic but textured, says Waller, who thinks it’s a great summer grape. While most of Pfeffingen’s vines are Riesling, Scheurebe is a specialty, comprising 15 percent of their vineyards. “This wine is unlike anything else that I know that’s out there,” says Waller. The nose is so aromatic that drinkers might think it will finish sweet, but the palate is all texture and ripe, tropical fruit.

Karthäuserhof ‘Bruno’ Riesling Kabinett Feinherb 2021
Karthäuserhof ‘Bruno’ Riesling Kabinett Feinherb 2021. Photo courtesy of The German Wine Collection.

Karthäuserhof ‘Bruno’ Riesling Kabinett Feinherb 2021, Mosel; $27

“Kabinett is so playful,” says Waller. “It can be serious, but it doesn’t have to be.” While the majority of Karthäuserhof’s wines are dry, this Kabinett Feinherb has noticeable sweetness but is extremely well-balanced. From cool vineyards in the Mosel and Ruwer—a valley just off of the Mosel River—this Riesling has lifted but ripe green fruit and peach notes, matching its residual sugar with acidity. “It’s a wine you could drink during a daytime picnic because it’s relatively low in alcohol, and it’s not heavy or cloying,” says Waller. “You can enjoy it and go about your way without feeling like it’s naptime.”

Rings Pinot Noir Estate 2021
Rings Estate Pinot Noir 2021. Photo courtesy of The German Wine Collection.

Rings Pinot Noir Estate 2021, Pfalz; $45

Brothers Steffen and Andreas Rings took over their family estate from their parents, who focused on fruit and grape production but not winemaking. Though the energetic duo plants a number of red and white grapes in the Pfalz, they specialize in organic Riesling and Pinot Noir, like this estate bottling. “This Pinot Noir is elegant and so finessed,” says Waller. Distinctive minerality and tannin structure meets delicious red fruit, but there’s something indescribable to this wine, she says. “It’s thought provoking—the wine is very alive,” says Waller. “The longer I have it open, the more the wine changes.”


Sign up for our award-winning newsletter

Don’t miss the latest drinks industry news and insights—delivered to your inbox every week.

Courtney Schiessl Magrini is the editor-in-chief for SevenFifty Daily and the Beverage Media Group publications. Based in Brooklyn, she has held sommelier positions at some of New York’s top restaurants, including Marta, Dirty French, and Terroir, and her work has appeared in Wine Enthusiast, GuildSomm, Forbes.com, VinePair, EatingWell Magazine, and more. She holds the WSET Diploma in Wines. Follow her on Instagram at @takeittocourt.

Most Recent