Going against the grain as a female distillery owner

Published: Mar. 30, 2021 at 9:03 PM PDT
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FALLON, Nev. (KOLO) - Frey Ranch Distillery in Fallon is one of a few whiskey producers in the world to grow 100-percent of its grains on-site. This field generally employs more men than women, but Co-Owner Ashley Frey is changing the narrative.

Frey Ranch sits on a 1,500-acre ranch. From growing and harvesting grains on the fields, to distilling the high-quality alcohol, aging it in barrels…all the way to the smooth pour in your glass! This company is truly unique and it’s a local family business.

“We had a love of bourbon and then a love of agriculture from Colby and we knew we wanted to showcase the grains we grew here on the farm, they were very high quality and when we really put our heads together, there really isn’t anybody else doing this in the United States,” Ashley Frey explains.

Her husband Colby is a 5th generation farmer, he met his wife while studying at the University of Nevada. They received their license to distill in 2006. Bourbon went into the barrels in 2014. Their family lives on this farm and Ashley wants all women to know this industry is not just for the guys, as she states, “Learn everything you can about it, taste it, visit other distilleries, talk to other women entrepreneurs who are in distilling.”

Ashley tells KOLO 8 that 40% of whiskey drinkers are women. That number has doubled since the 1990s, adding, “Being a female founder in a distillery, I think that it’s amazing more women are drinking whiskey because it’s very approachable.”

The coronavirus caused a bunch of issues, with the business having to shut down production as restaurants, bars and liquor stores were brought to an unexpected halt. Frey Ranch launched its bourbon in fall 2019. “We’ve actually been selling our whiskey during COVID times more than we have without COVID, so we’ve learned a lot. We’ve launched brands in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, the Bay Area, Sacramento… all virtually,” Ashley says. When it was closed during the beginning of the pandemic, Frey Ranch produced its high proof alcohol and donated a thousand gallons of hand sanitizer to truckers, hospital staff and other essential workers.

Ashley focuses on packaging, brand recognition, marketing, and hospitality. She is a mother, wife, entrepreneur, and whiskey drinking Nevadan. She’s providing a great example for other women, all from the comfort of her family farm.

Ashley also mentioned the critical needs for us to shop local--not just at her family’s distillery but restaurants, bars and liquor stores. Frey ranch products are available in more than 500 Nevada locations.

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