When most people think of working in a winery they probably conjure images of the winemaker, the tasting room attendant, or someone out in the vineyard tending the vines. And for large winery operations it's probably a valid conceptualization, however, for most of us in the wine business, those of us in a small-to-mid sized winery, we wear many hats.
In 2005 I began playing around with making wine and shortly thereafter enrolled in an enology (wine science) program. By 2008 my interests took me to a local winery where, until June, I volunteered to learn winery operations and gained a great deal of knowledge. With my shiny new wine making credentials in hand and my college teaching baggage behind me, I sought full time employment.
The wine gods must have been smiling on me because, in short order, I found myself up to my neck in a job, whose making was my own. You see in these parts of the country it isn't often a guy can find full time employment in a winery, frankly because most operations are small family-run enterprises, but I was lucky.
Understanding wine from the perspective of a winemaker, and as a vocal advocate for a regional wine industry, was a bonus as I began my new endeavor. As the External Relations Manager, a fancy new title that captures everything from public and social media relations, writing and editing, to my main focus - strengthening and building a wholesale program, I wear many hats.
Some days I visit potential wholesale/retail accounts, other days I deliver wines, many days are filled with scheduling my volunteer wine ambassadors monthly wine tastings. There are days when I work behind the tasting room bar serving guests, while other times I shoot a short video and post on YouTube, but all times I am thrilled to be part of a growing local wine industry.
I'd like to think that I am somehow special in this way but I know I am not. I meet many colleagues who wear the same hats, perhaps in different ways, but we are all trying hard to do it right.
The days become weeks and weeks blend together too quickly. The Summer events are now the snapshots I visit on my Facebook photo album, and our harvest, which began in late August finally reached its zenith last week with the delivered Cabernet, Merlot and Zinfandel. I rode shotgun during the fermentation while the winemaker took a week-long vacation. Another hat. Working in the cellar doing Punch Downs and Pump-Over operations was enjoyable and brought me back to my wine making roots. I've missed that.
Can't help but wonder what's in store as the next year approaches and what style of hat I'll be wearing.
Cheers, my wine friends!