Minnesota Now with Cathy Wurzer

Why Du Nord's founder says 2020 and 2021 were both the worst and best years of his life

Chris Montana
Chris Montana, owner and distiller at Du Nord Craft Spirits, stirs a corn mash that will be distilled into vodka in January 2015 in Minneapolis. In the background is Montana's wife Shanelle and son Eli. The corn used in the mash comes from Shanelle's family farm in Cold Spring, Minn.
Jennifer Simonson | MPR News 2015

Here's something you might not know: Du Nord Social Spirits in south Minneapolis was the first licensed Black-owned distillery in the United States.

Chris Montana is Du Nord’s co-founder and CEO. He opened the distillery’s cocktail room in the same neighborhood he lived in as a homeless teenager attending Minneapolis South High School.

Montana’s life is quite a story, as is the story of Du Nord — and what's happened with the distillery in the past couple of years. When the Du Nord facility was damaged in the unrest following the 2020 murder of George Floyd, Du Nord started raising money to support affected businesses and the broader community, and that has morphed into the Du Nord Foundation.

Montana joined host Cathy Wurzer for a conversation about the history of Black distilling, what it’s been like to blaze trails in a predominantly white industry, why 2020 and 2021 were both the worst and best years of his life and more.

Use the audio player above to listen to the full conversation.

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