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Waters Edge Winery in Evergreen to be featured on America’s Best Restaurants

by TAYLOR INMAN
Daily Inter Lake | May 5, 2024 12:00 AM

Waters Edge Winery owner Angela Zuba was shocked when she was contacted by producers on “America’s Best Restaurants," a show that highlights eateries and bars all across the country.

“To be on a show that is broadcast all over the world, so it's not even limited to American TV … It was elation,” Zuba said. 

Zuba and her husband Trevor opened Waters Edge Winery in 2020, the franchise has 11 locations throughout the United States. The award-winning business is known for its large wine menu and made-in-house blends, and is a popular place for locals to grab a bite to eat. They make all their wines on location, using grape varieties from all over the world to create a truly unique product. 

For her, creating a good menu to go with their wines was just as important as the drink itself.

“I am a foodie, always have been. And in my world, wine can't be drunk without food and food can't be enjoyed without wine. So I developed the menu, and it's constantly rotating — it's all about what is going to pair best with your wine. But the key is simple. A lot of times you get things that are really over complicated and it can take away from the beauty of the natural essence of the food,” Zuba said. 

That’s why they don't fry anything or buy frozen food, Zuba said everything is made fresh as much as possible, including all of their sauces and salad dressings. She said wine is incorporated whenever possible too, like their baked white wine cheese dip.  

That freshness was on full display when the “America’s Best Restaurant” crew came to film at the winery in April. Host Theo Williams said they were setting up to film him trying some of what their menu has to offer.

“We're going to be drinking some wine. I know Angela, the owner here, she has a blended wine that she's making with grapes imported from Italy and from South America. So I'm gonna get to try that,” Theo said. 

There are three different ways a restaurant can get on their show: it can be scouted by the TV’s team, owners can submit a request themselves or they can be nominated by a customer. Zuba said for Waters Edge, she reached out to them after seeing an ad on social media. When she asked if they’d ever been to Montana, that spurred a conversation with the show’s producers.

“They contacted me and then did research on us, our restaurant, our story and concept. Then it went back and forth,” Zuba said. “We had about six different interviews. And at that point, they said, ‘Yeah, you have something really special.’ And so they wanted to feature us.”

Customers think so too — Waters Edge Winery has won Best Winery and Best Wine Selection in the Best of Flathead competition for three years running. Zuba said she wants to keep the food and wine menus fresh, while appealing to a wide range of tastes. When it comes to the wine, she said she’s got a wine for every kind of pallet. And for those who just aren’t wine drinkers, Zuba said they also make a hard cider. 

“Right down from the sweet line all the way up to those big, bold red wines, because I want everybody to enjoy the world of wine. And the wine palette is a circle, most people start their journey with sweet wines, then they progress to the drier whites, then they go to the sweeter or little bit darker reds. Then they go to the dry reds and then they start back over again,” she said.

During the springtime and summertime, her mind is on sangrias. But, she said they take a different approach to the drink by infusing the wine with natural plant extracts, as opposed to soaking fruit in the wine. 

“So for summertime, we've actually done coconut rum sangria. We do pineapple yuzu, raspberry dragon fruit, mango citrus and we have a new one coming out for summertime— a kiwi strawberry. They’re slightly sweet and just really refreshing,” Zuba said. 

The winery’s giant stainless steel tanks can be viewed from the dining area, as a reminder that Zuba and her team are always coming up with new combinations for blends. She’s decided to name their selections after birds in Montana, so if she comes across a cool bird name, she’ll start thinking about how the wine can best emulate it. But, her inspiration comes from all kinds of places. 

“Sometimes it's my mood, a lot of times it's music or the weather. I look for inspiration in nature, and that sounds kind of corny and cheesy, but it's just how I feel that day,” Zuba said.  

Since opening in 2020, Zuba said they’ve expanded the business to include catering. She said her “answer is always yes” and that she’s open to everything, an ethos for her business overall. 

“Because you need to be relevant and you need to be fresh, and you have to constantly be changing and evolving,” Zuba said. “That's how we keep our audience engaged, you don't just hang a sign that says ‘we’re open,’ it's active. Hustle, promotion and getting out there being present in the community. I sit on multiple boards, I try to donate as much as I can back to the community.” 

Zuba calls it a “givers game,” she said if she is always asking the community what they can provide to make people’s lives easier, they in turn might think of them when they want to go out somewhere.

It’s rare to see Zuba not working, according to her staff. But she’s not ready to slow down any time soon. She said when she thinks about the future of her winery and restaurant, she has goals of possibly expanding to other locations or getting a bigger kitchen to accommodate more catering events.“But, we're not going anywhere, we're here for the long haul,” Zuba said. 

Waters Edge Winery is set to be featured on “America’s Best Restaurants” sometime in June. That episode can be watched on “America’s Best Restaurants” Youtube channel or Facebook, and will also be posted to Waters Edge Winery’s Facebook page.

To learn more about Waters Edge Winery, visit their website www.wewinerykalispell.com/.

Reporter Taylor Inman can be reached at 406-758-4433 or by emailing tinman@dailyinterlake.com