(Me in the tasting room on Memorial Day weekend, 2014)
In April I had the opportunity to start working in a tasting room pouring wine. My experience with wine went as far as, “I drink wine”. That’s it. Growing up in the Central Valley of California, the only vineyards I saw were used for drying out raisins in the summer because it gets extremely hot there. I checked the weather for my hometown today and it is supposed to be 108 degrees!! If you know me, you know that I am a seeker. I am always seeking something… whether it be knowledge, or travel, or new clothes I am never stationary and rarely satisfied. Working in the tasting room is my chance to gain knowledge about the wine industry and about wine itself. In an earlier post, I talked about Sonoma County and the art and culture behind wine and the way of living there. Who knows if I will settle in Sonoma County so I hope to learn as much as I can while I am here.
In my interview with the wine owners, I embarrassingly confessed that before moving to Sonoma County, I thought Zinfandel was a white wine. Of course, through going wine tasting and exploring our area I have tried wines I’ve never heard of and have educated myself more about wine and wine etiquette. I was able to redeem myself with my small amount of wine knowledge and my eagerness to learn more. Thankfully, they accepted me into their wine family and have really shown me the ropes!!
My first weekend pouring, I was literally thrown right in. It was a busy weekend and I was running around like a crazy person. I had studied the history of the family, which is extensive and amazing to say the least, and was fascinated with everything I learned. It made it so easy for me to memorize the facts: like how they’ve been growing grapes since 1956, how the third generation is taking over and work in the tasting room every week, or how 40% of their chardonnay grapes were sold to Chateau Montelena, who made a chardonnay that went on to win the Judgement of Paris in 1976, and put Sonoma and Napa Counties on the map as reputable wine countries. Knowing the history of the winery is one thing but I still needed to learn more about the wine. Lucky for me, our vineyard only grows four varietals and doesn’t blend any wine which means I didn’t need to learn about 20+ different wines like some other tasting rooms. The more I spoke to people and listened to the experience pourers speak about the wine, the more I realized how lucky I am to have stumbled upon this particular family and their vineyard. Everyone is not only incredibly well versed on wine and the process of making wine, but seriously the nicest people you will ever meet.
I am still a major rookie after two months in the tasting room but each time I work, I feel more confident and learn something new. It’s okay that sometimes the customers that come in teach me more than I knew before. It’s okay that sometimes I say our zinfandel is less jammy due to our cooler climate appalachian only to hear a woman turn to her husband and tell him how jammy the zin is. I enjoy chatting to people both tourist and local and watching their faces light up when they taste our amazing wine. I can’t wait to continue my wine journey and become more involved in the industry by attending events and tasting around Sonoma County with my newfound knowledge and palette to guide me!