Meet the Dynamic Huntsville wine Couple Kristin and Andy Bernard
More than just wine. That is what Kristin and Andy Bernard work to share through their wine business, Côtes de Femme. The couple decided to start their business in January 2019 and since then have been able to sell both their wines in stores locally and nationally. Even with the pandemic shutting down the world after the bottling of their first wine, The Rosé, they were able to get their wine into 95 stores in five states.
Their love for wine begins with their love for each other. When the couple first started dating, Kristin would order a glass of wine while Andy would order a soft drink wanting to be a better date for his wife. Coming from a family that never really drank wine, Andy found a book at Barnes and Noble to educate himself on the fermented drink.
“It was just called ‘Wines of the World’,” Andy said. “It basically said, start your journey with wines that are a lot like the drinks that you already drink. If you are a whiskey drinker, start here, if you are a beer drinker, start here, if you are a soft drink start here, if you have never drunk wine, here is where you start and so I was a soft drink. That is where we started.”
When first married, the Bernards were young with children. Unable to travel much, wine gave them a vacation. They would put their kids to bed early, try wine, and as they like to describe it “travel the world through wine.” As their marriage and kids grew, they began to travel to wine vineyards. They describe taking the bottles of wine home, opening them again and being sent right back to their trip.
“Wine for us also has not been just even a fun journey of traveling. It has also been a fun journey of memories of times that we have spent together. It has kind of become a part of our relationship and a part of our love story that we love wine, and we love learning about wine,” Kristin said.
Always supportive of her ideas, Kristin approached her husband with the idea of starting a wine business. She shared the research she had done on both wine and vineyards and they both knew this was something they could accomplish together.
“There are farmers out there, that is their gift, they grow grapes. They want to grow grapes. They want to sell grapes,” Kristin said. “Then there are winemakers. They are the artists, and they may not even want to grow the grapes. They just may want to be a part of the blending process of taking the right grapes from the right vineyards and the right farmers and create this beautiful piece of artwork. What we have to do is put the right team together. When we began, we knew we wanted to start with a southern France, Provence rosé, because that is just one of our favorites.”
After creating their flavor profile, the couple was paired with a winery in southern France that sits beside the Mediterranean Sea. Wanting a wine that caught the eye of wine lovers and have some-thing that their customers could keep after emptying the bottles, the Bernards created the bracelet: a small bling bracelet that opens and closes around the bottom of a wine glass. Andy was also able to patent the bracelet as well.
“No one in the world has done it and now that is us. What is really great is you can call any store that carries us and maybe they do not know how to pronounce the name, so they say ‘that bottle with the rhinestone bracelet, that bottle with the bling, that bottle with the shiny diamonds’ and every employee in the store says ‘Oh yeah, we have that. It is right over here,’” Andy said. “It is really cool. It is something that we wanted, we planned for and so it is recognizable now. That is the brand awareness and exposure we were searching for.”
Everything from cost in different countries, licensing for selling, to harvesting in different months, to the blends, tastes and the color changes of wine over time, the Bernards have learned much about the wine process. They describe the process of figuring out their wine, to selling it, all as a fascinating process.
The Bernards describe their rosé as the daytime summer fun wine, while their cabernet is their date night get dressed up wine.
“I say [The Rosé] has notes of citrus grapefruit blossoms. It is sweet, but floral and like fruity notes. When you taste it, it is going to be very smooth and velvety. It is a bold rosé that you are going to taste light fruits and when you get into it more, for us, we taste the terroir of the salinity of the Mediterranean Sea and a little bit of the minerality of the quartz. The first time you smell it, it is going to be floral, it is going to be light fruit. It is a dry wine and we have been told that The Rosé is a red wine drinker’s rosé,” Andy said.
“The Cabernet is an Alexander Valley cabernet that is nestled between Sonoma Napa, which is known for its volcanic soil, so this is going to be a dry Cabernet Sauvignon. It is also going to have some dark fruit currant blackberry on the front end, but that volcanic soil gives a little green pepper spice on the back end that is not overly spicy. It is not overly mascu-line, but it gives it this tiny bit of kick.”
Another intentional touch to the Bernards’ wine is to the name and logo. Cotés de Femme translates to “sides of woman”; to represent all women.” They are proud to share that they are a certified women-owned business.
“It represents all the many beautiful shapes, curves, tones and types of women. Our logo, the woman in the hat, we had an artist create that for us who does line art. That is what she specializes in and the reason I chose line art was I wanted any woman, any person to look at that and say, ‘that is me, when I have my hat on when I wear my high heels, when I have a glass of wine in my hand,’” Kristin said.
The couple shares that Cotés de Femme has allowed them to work closely together as well as share the process and business with their kids. Their children have been able to have a hands-on experience with what the couple has created.
“The girls are handling our TikTok account right now and they are doing an amazing job. It is really a collaborative effort with our family. We love that we get to share the business side of things with them and we are very transparent with some of the household things that go on and some of the financial decisions that may be made,” Andy said. “We are sharing with them because who really shares that with a 20 something. When you are in college, they do not teach you all of those things. It is fun for us to help raise our kids to be able to know some of these things.”
For customers to be able to see themselves in Cotés de Femme is only part of what the Bernards want people to take away from their business. The goal is for their wine to bring people together while also providing a sense of love to the consumer.
“I want people when they taste our wine or they experience even our social media to feel and see our heart, our love for each other and our love for them,” Kristin said. “I want them to feel that once they have a glass of our wine, they are one of us, they are there. They are a part of our family.”