Meredith Meyer Grelli ’03 Distills the Meaning of Entrepreneurship

Meredith Meyer Grelli ’03 leaves a legacy of two successful businesses in Pittsburgh, PA.

In keeping up with the mindset she learned at George School, Meredith Meyer Grelli ’03 created her own path as an entrepreneur that led to lifelong learning and teaching.

After George School, Meredith received her BA from the University of Chicago in two and a half years  and went on to study cooking at Le Cordon Bleu, sharing an apartment in Paris with fellow George School alum Jesse Hindle ’03, as she explored the creative side of the culinary industry.

Returning to her hometown of Pittsburgh, PA, she continued her education at the Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon, pursuing her MBA. It was during this time that Meredith had the first idea for her business. “I wanted to create a business that would celebrate and help catalyze this region’s identity.”

After graduation, she continued her career at Kraft Heinz in a brand management role, where she learned valuable skills in running a business. However, she still had the desire to start her own business. In 2010, she left her corporate role to start Wigle Whiskey with her husband, Alex.

Wigle Whiskey began as a direct-to-consumer craft whiskey distillery in a rented space in the Strip District of Pittsburgh–a vibrant area that has long attracted diverse food businesses and—more recently—tech companies.

“There was a lot of intention in opening a distillery,” Meredith explained. “I wanted to bring all of my experiences together, combining community development, knowledge of food and flavor, regional identity, and my interest in manufacturing a tangible product that people could enjoy. Whiskey was the thing that checked all those boxes.”

Wigle Whiskey became Pennsylvania’s first whiskey distillery since Prohibition. In order to operate, Meredith and Alex lobbied the Pennsylvania state legislature to legalize the manufacturing and direct sale of spirits. Meredith’s efforts contributed to changing the regulatory framework for Pennsylvania distilleries and helped bring back Pittsburgh’s prominence as the “Birthplace of American Whiskey.”

Despite their limited experience in the industry, Meredith and Alex’s venture was a success, largely due to their curious and passionate attitude.

“For us, a little naivety went a long way,” Meredith recalled. “We had the drive to succeed, a good product, and the desire to learn. We developed a process and flavor profile using a ton of trial and error. Once we had a unique product, we went about building a business.”

Under Meredith and Alex, the distillery was the most awarded Craft Whiskey Distillery in the US by the American Craft Spirits Association for seven years. The company continued to expand, adding Threadbare Cider as its companion. After more than a decade of leadership and growing their businesses, Meredith and Alex sold both the Distillery and Cidery to a new ownership team in 2022. Both are still growing and thriving.

“We poured everything into the company and knew the tremendous growth potential,” Meredith said. “We felt a lot of emotions when the deal was done. I am proud of the incredible team that we built across all business segments.”

Meredith attributes her entrepreneurial mindset to her teachings from George School. “At George School, I learned to be a strong associative thinker, connecting seemingly disconnected ideas, industries, and wants. The broad, integrated education at George School is a primer for associative thinking.”

Returning back to Carnegie Mellon Tepper School of Business to teach, Meredith is taking the next step in her entrepreneurial journey.

“Teaching is a dream role,” she said. “I teach entrepreneurship and get to work with talented entrepreneurs from all disciplines. It is a lot of fun to advise startups, invest in them, and help entrepreneurs navigate the challenges inherent in building a company from the ground up.” Learn more about Meredith, her entrepreneurship, and her teaching.

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