#WhyIWineandFood: Ann Marshall
An avid connoisseur of wine + food and a supporter of small + local Lowcountry businesses, Ann Marshall of High Wire Distilling embodies the true essence of a passionate Charlestonian.
Raised in Orangeburg, Ann Marshall was always close to Charleston, letting her love for the city flourish over the years. She describes her familiarity with the city through “vacationing a lot down here.” Ann Marshall + her husband, Scott Blackwell, chose Charleston for everything from weekend visits to anniversary weekends, eventually getting married out at Edisto Island.
With each visit, Ann Marshall + Scott felt a stronger pull to the Holy City. Beyond the beautiful scenery, the couple really “fell in love with the food community + the restaurant scene here,” Ann says. She explains how the “rich and special,” culinary experiences + the communal feel embedded in the city influenced her + Scott’s decision to establish their distillery here.
“It felt like the size of Charleston was really attractive because it is very metropolitan with a lot of people flowing throughout it, but the community was really strong and the footprints are really tight,” Ann Marshall explains. “We would always run into somebody we knew every time we came to visit - the sense of community is really what drove us.”
After founding the distillery a few years ago, the business took off. High Wire spirits popped up in local food + beverage establishments around the city. It wasn’t High Wire alone, however, that began to expand + develop. New restaurants, hotels, even new distilleries, started opening all over the peninsula. “We were lucky to land in Charleston when we did,” Marshall explains. “It was right when the real estate market was taking off. We were a little limited to where we could go, to be honest, because we had to have an industrial building but also there were a lot of options around town.”
On the hunt for an industrial space to lay roots in the city, Ann + Scott looked to upper King St. and found home near the up-and-coming Cannonborough neighborhood just past the crosstown. “We really loved the edginess of the area and how it felt very entrepreneurial,” Ann explains. “It seemed like a lot of restauranteurs + business were a little scrappier and more in-tune with what this neighborhood could be. I think people who had a great vision for transforming an area that was + still is a fantastic area.”
The couple was spot-on with their predictions. Since opening, the neighborhood expansion continues dramatically. “Now it’s just a booming,” Ann explains. “We continue to get leapfrogged by various businesses, and now we’ve got people like Monarch on Upper King anchoring the end, Rodney's up there as well. For a while, Butcher & Bee was the anchor point on this end, then we moved in and then Leon’s; it’s been a fun process to watch unfold.”
The communal aspect of High Wire’s neighborhood reflects the core values of the business + Ann Marshall’s personal convictions. Being an authentic player in the Charleston community is something Ann Marshall takes seriously + also drives her interest in participating in events like the Charleston Wine + Food festival. “The festival is such an incredible vehicle for community,” she explains. “Not just bringing people into Charleston, but also tightening relationships within the city itself. It was really important to us when we first moved here to become a part of food and beverage community in Charleston.”
Ann Marshall describes the camaraderie between the food + beverage community leading up to the festival as a chance for connection, despite all of the chaos. “It’s just a great way to reward the community,” she says. “We pass each other in the street as we’re all so busy with our heads down, but the festival is a great moment to see more of anyone than you do all year long. I love that. It reinforces the feel of the community.”
When they aren’t running the distillery + making appearances at local restaurants, bars and festivals, Ann + Scott love to embrace all of the things that make the Holy City the number one travel destination in the world. Setting work life aside, the couple enjoys sailing, sitting by the pool on the weekends and taking long walks around the city, occasionally popping into their favorite restaurants for a bite. “We’re really passionate about beverages, but we’re also really passionate about food,” she says. “A lot of the fun for us is just getting out at restaurants around Charleston and seeing what’s out there - we kind of eat, sleep and breathe it all.”