This is the first blog post on the Winery and me. I can only work 28 hours each week. It’s not much money but every little bit helps. Sometimes if you work more than 28 hours, you will be paid in wine. Funny!! Some people, even older than me, work once a month for six bottles of wine!! Granted, it’s “good wine” but I thought it strange at first….
The Winery is local, only about 15 minutes from my house, so very convenient. It’s on an old piece of land dated back to the 1800s and used to have an old manor house. Now it’s in ruins, but they are very beautiful and many people get married on the ruins (or in them whatever)….The Blue Ridge Mountains make a lovely backdrop. The acres and acres of vineyards are also particularly breathtaking. There is a restaurant which is always booked, a banquet hall, and a wine making building. There are two tasting rooms. One is the room I work in with expensive, but Average expensive wines that are tasted and sold. There are a few tables scattered around where people can drink wine and have a snack. The other tasting room carries the Expensive wines. Tastings are also held there.
I am called, “a pouring associate”……What is that? Well, people come in for wine tasting. They pay only $7.00 for a glass and get to try 22 wines. There are also many buses that come in for tastings and a tour as well as lunch at the restaurant. Then you have the people that come in for Wine Tasting. Sometimes it will be just a couple, sometimes it’s for a birthday, an anniversary, or a celebration of some kind.
I have worked during the week as well as on a weekend. On a weekend there are at least 200-400 people that come in and during the week at least 100-200 people come in. Amazing!! We are usually busy every second of the day and my co-workers are very good about giving me breaks. They Make You Take A Break because you are on your feet all day.
My first day I thought I was Dead. Feet hurt and back ached, every muscle that has not been used was Throbbing. I came home, grabbed a heating pad and fell into bed at 6 p.m.!! Definitely out of shape!!
I have only memorized the white wines so I am usually at that bar. I haven’t mastered the red wines nor the dessert wines. The bar I run has no stool (of course) so I kind of lean against the bar when no one is there which isn’t often..if we are lucky, we will have a “back bar” person which clears bottles, opens bottles, keeps our little refrigerators stocked, empties “spit buckets” (what a gross phrase) and keeps us stocked with crackers. If not, we do that too.
The hardest thing for me to master was opening a proper bottle of wine! I am not a drinker so it was completely alien to me. You have to take off the seal and then use your opener to screw the cork out without breaking it, and then put on the pouring cap. My first day was a nightmare but now I am pretty good at it. The bottles are kept in a small refrigerator under the bar as well as a cooler which is sitting on top of the bar which we use for pouring.
When opening, we first unload the dishwasher. Then we take these white crocks and put them at the beginning and end of each bar. They call them, “spit buckets”. If one does not like the taste of the wine, they pour it in the crock. These crocks need to be emptied throughout the day..We then have to put a pitcher of water next to the crock in order for people to refresh their glass. A large casserole type dish is then put at each bar for crackers. A box of crackers and an extra sleeve is put at each bar in a special little place where they fit perfectly. The back bar has a large refrigerator where bottles are stocked for the day but more often than not, they are replenished several times. My bar has two bars. One in the front of me and one in the back so that I can run them both at the same time. I also have a huge tub with ice and two Italian Wines that are grown in volcanic ash in Lombardy, Italy. The owner has eight wineries in Italy and the grapes are grown, packaged and shipped here. These wines are very expensive and we have to pour sparingly.
In closing, all the crocks have to be loaded in the dishwasher along with the cracker dishes. All of the water pitchers need to be refreshed and put on the shelf for the next day. I can’t reach the shelves of course so I have to stand on a crate. All the bottles we used for the day have to be marked off on a clipboard and then the bottles are put into a crate and carried into the back. All the trash has to be emptied, floors swept, bars wiped down and open wine bottles are carried to the end of the back bar so that they can be “gassed” in order to keep them fresh for the next day.
When we are short staffed, it’s a nightmare. Back breaking work. There is a small kitchen in the back where most of our wines are stocked in two large refrigerators. After working there for two weeks I still can’t stand the smell of all the wines. It’s sickeningly sweet. There are “fruit fly traps” hanging to draw them in. They are everywhere otherwise. Gross.
So this is the inner workings of the Winery. More on the customers and characters to come!!