For me, one of the best things I do as a Wine Educator, is to work with Tasting room staff.
Often referred to as “servers” or ”pourers”, these important members of a winery’s front line are so much more.
Yes, one of the main parts of the job is to pour wine samples for visitors and be pleasant and hospitable, but when a team member loves and excels in their position they are part Host/Ambassador/Educator/Entertainer/Phycologist and Salesperson.
Welcoming every person who comes through the door and making them feel at home is common sense. Unfortunately, some establishments go only this far and then drop the ball.
An ‘Ambassador’ can tell you what’s going on in the area; where to eat; who has the best picnic spots; talk about other things to do while you visit their part of the world. Yes, there is apparently more to do out there besides visit wineries!
Wine ‘education’ is so important, and I know I’m biased in this department, but how can you expect your team to sell your product if they don’t know anything about it? The person who takes your order at Starbuck’s is well versed in coffee and your staff should be schooled in the basics of wine so they can be confident to answer any and all questions that come their way.
And with that confidence will come the freedom to ‘entertain’ your guests with stories and humor making each visitor feel special.
The ‘phycologist’ will know just the right questions to ask as well as have the patience to listen to your customers in order to ‘feel out’ their preferences and experience with wine. By doing so, the tasting can be tailored to their needs and your staff can suggest the right products. This makes them better ‘salespeople’ without having to badger customers with endless suggestions that don’t interest or appeal to them. Finding the right service, like a Wine Club membership or free shipping, shows that you listened to the individual needs of your guest.
So next time you’re swirling your sample at the tasting room bar, don’t forget to take a moment and smile at your ‘server’.
Three weeks from now, beginning July 25th, I will be sitting in a hotel conference room, surrounded by like minded wine geeks (and I use the term lovingly because I am one myself) absorbing knowledge like a giddy schoolgirl. Hopefully, this euphoria will not come just from the fantastic wines that I’ll be privileged to taste, but from the amazing symposiums I will attend.
I will take “A Fast & Deep Dive Deep into California’s Appellations”, taste “The Great Wines of Spain”, travel through “Provence: Ancient Roman Roads to Modern Biodynamics” and “Island Wines: Off the Beaten Path”.
Other session will aid me in transferring all this information to my students with “A Revolutionary Way of Teaching the Wines of France” and rev-up my seminars by going “Beyond Classes with Glasses: The Wine Educator’s Tool Belt”.
As you can tell, this is an event that I am looking forward to immensely and I can’t wait to meet all the other 381 attendees, spend three un-interrupted days sitting at those tables with a row of glasses before me and a world of wine to explore.
“Who dares to teach must never cease to learn.”
John Cotton Dana
Wine lover, educator and writer.