MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — After a long day, it’s sometimes nice to unwind with a glass of wine. But then figuring out what wine to buy next can sometimes launch you right back into the stressful zone. That’s why Allison Wagner started the Savvy Lush.
At first, it was a joke with friends and then morphed into helping people find tasty wines, cheap. But that’s not all that makes Allison a Minnesotan to Meet. Her day job also raises significant money for a disease that hits our population hard.
For almost a decade, there’s been one cheerleader behind the MS 150.
Wagner organizes volunteers, sets up everything from portable toilets to peanut butter, and tracks bike racer’s progress from Duluth to the Twin Cities as the senior development director for the Upper Midwest Chapter of the MS Society.
“I help fundraise and bring in about $6 million,” Wagner said.
But it’s likely how she saves people money that has even more getting to know Wagner’s online alter-ego.
“I try to stay under $15 or less, that’s really my main bag,” says Wagner,” Sommelier, I am not.”
However, the Savvy Lush does know her wine.
Wagner’s love started at just 16 while visiting Italy.
It grew into a passion while visiting local wine shops, talking to owners and finding treasures to bring to her friend’s dinner parties. It was at one of those gatherings, a friend told Wagner she should write a blog.
“I started laughing because I thought blogs were for, this isn’t PC, but for bored housewives,” says Wagner.
Instead it became a creative outlet for her and her first love, Sean.
When asked what her husband thinks about her blog and love of wine, she responds “he loves it, he’s actually my editor.”
The two do a lot of “research” together while pup, Francis, often looks on. She buys all her own bottles and doesn’t place ads on her website.
“When I first started people were like, who is giving you samples,” Wagner said, “and I’m like, no this is all my own money.”
That’s also part of the reason she tries to keep bottle costs under $15.
The cartoon-like character on her site — as well as her witty writing — adds to making wine approachable.
So, what if people watch and say this is just a woman with a problem?
“That’s what milk thistle and dandelion root tea are for, you need to balance,” Wagner said.
And also she can get back to her real work, like this past weekend’s race.
Helping thousands of Minnesotans battling MS enjoy their own lives, the way she embraces hers. Every once in a while, she’ll splurge on a $20 bottle of wine, but her website is full of $5 to $6 bottles, too.
If you’re looking for recommendations, she is constantly updating her Instagram — the Savvy Lush. Just beware: they do have fun with the blog, so expect some dirty language on some posts.