Wednesday, February 28, 2007

A Month in...

It has been almost one month since I started here, and though I am probably still starry-eyed with all that happens here, I am still extremely happy! Even the work I have to do is fun (I know, I know, I'm blinded by the stars in my eyes.)

Writing copy is so much fun! Here's my gig: Write wine tasting notes without tasting the wines. Is there soemthing wrong with this picture? On top of not actually tasting these specific wines, it has been challenging since there are only so many words for "delightful" and "refreshing" and "palate" and "aroma." is my new best friend. I hope that this copy makes it onto the final label so that when I go to the store I actually see it!

So the house. The details didn't seem to scare off my parents, so the house is ours! We'll sign the title papers within the next week or so, and then it's go time. Move half of my furniture into the new place to stage the condo. Paint the red wall to appeal to more buyers. Start painting the new place, rip up the disgusting carpet, tear out the vanity and mirror in the bathroom, and start updating fixtures & lighting. Pray my place sells QUICKLY.

Cheers to wine tasting notes & new-to-me houses!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Not Quite in the Groove

This week has been the first week of actual work. My official orientation ended last week, though today was field trip #3. I got to meet one of the sales reps in my group along with some reps from a distributor. As everyone said, they really are a great group of people. We headed to two of the tasting rooms today, with a lunch at Silverado Brewing Co. in between. I tried so hard to get a salad, and ended up with a French dip instead. So much for eating healthy. I need to join a gym just to work off the past three weeks.

The reps are long-timers, some have been in the industry since before I was born. I won't be telling them that tidbit though. No need to make anyone feel bad - just yet anyway. I did score a vest with one of the logos on it - nice way to end the meeting!

I'm still getting the hang of my responsibilities, and cannot wait until the day that most of this is second nature. It's a good thing I was blessed with a great memory, especially one for names, because that's everything in this industry. So far, so good.

Cheers to more tours, more tastings, and free logowear!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Swig, Swirl, Suck in air, Spit

The 4 S's of industry tasting. That seems to be how it goes.

Field Trip #2: Far Away Winery Tour & Tasting
Today we headed up to the Far Away Winery to do some tasting and get a tour from the winemakers. The facility is incredible - state of the art - and a perfect subject for some amazing photographs. I'll be heading up very soon to shoot like crazy. We tasted about 19 wines, and I did my first swig, swirl, spit. You see that technique #3 is missing for me...I can't figure out how to suck in air. The wine just dribbles out of my mouth. I must master these techniques because I can't actually drink 19 wines while working. Wine tasting for me has always been "swallow" and not "spit" as the 4th S, so this will be an adjustment. "Swallow" can also be replaced with "drink & enjoy" though that's not an S. Homework item #572.

Today was amazing - it was such a pleasure to meet the winemakers. The tour was casual, friendly, and extremely informative - another great bunch of people.

Cheers to the 4 S's of tasting and again to field trips!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Enjoy it While it Lasts

I am floored (in a good way) by how this company treats their employees, how active they are in the community, and how generous they are...every employee I have met so far reiterates this fact. The people are awesome - everyone has been extremely helpful and patient with the newbie.

Field trip #1: St. Helena/Napa Tasting Room Tour
Today I got to see each of the properties and taste many of the wines we produce. Yep, you read that correctly, I got to taste wine and go on a tour for almost three hours today. I'm starry-eyed. I'm in heaven. I know that the real work will start, and soon, but I will remember the past few weeks and revel in my experiences. Good thing this is all extremely fascinating to me - it'll be a while before it feels like work.

There's a house. It's in southeast Napa. It's cool. It's big. It could be all mine - stinky, dirty, blue carpet and all. The inspections were done today - it's an old house so the electrical is original, the hot tub is making the deck rot quickly, there's some funky plumbing going on under the house...all in all an interesting report. Doesn't scare me. Ok a little. Unfortunately, all I see is a house, spacious and in need of some TLC, and a shorter commute. The rest are just details. Potentially expensive details, but details nonetheless. And I want all those details to be mine. See a dangerous pattern with my starry-eyed attitude?

Cheers to field trips and old houses!

Monday, February 12, 2007

Aren't We Lucky

To the poor folks of Minnesota, and I'm sure many other places in this country: I'm sorry you can't buy wine at Target. Granted, I have yet to buy a bottle of wine at Target, though if I were running errands and already there, it sure is nice to know that I CAN buy wine at Target.

This little tidbit is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the Do's and Don't's of wine sales and distribution. I have been surprised by the laws of many states - laws that seemed to have been passed right after prohibition and never reviewed again. They all seem like such a hassle! Another reason it's great to live in California.

There is a freebie table in the coffee room here, and since I'm new to the industry, green so to speak, I still think that free wine and swag is cool. So far I snagged a license plate frame that reads "Forgive me for I have zinned..." (awesome) and a 1.5L of wine. Yay for me. Hopefully when I get a permanent desk I'll be given a lot more stuff to fill up the shelves.

Cheers to buying wine at Target and the free table!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Wine. Chocolate. Enough Said.

Wenis and I made it over to Rodney Strong's Wine & Chocolate Fantasy event today. The wine was flowing around the entire barrel room, and the chocolate was plentiful, but what made the day (and it worth the $30 each) was the moneymaker-shaking, smile-inducing, soul-warming tunes of Earl Thomas and his 7-piece band.

The wines were hit or miss today, which surprised me because usually I love most Rodney Strong wines. The reserves definitely trumped the rest in every varietal, prompting us to go back for seconds on the cab and zin. It also helps when you get an "I Got Knotty" sticker with the zin. Stickers will do a lot for sales, or tastes in our case, and Wenis and I may be showing up with our own someday.

And the chocolate...yum. Can't really go wrong here.

Later, my gals and I hung out at my place, chatting it up for a few hours. We then randomly went to Napa for some delicious Chinese food and ridiculous conversation. At the wine bar, I sat in my reserved saddle seat (no one else but me knows it's actually reserved for me of course), while I had the pinot noir flight. The Taz "Fiddlestix" was my least favorite, but I ended up trading for Bean's $16/glass Rudd cab which was yummy. We headed back home to watch tasteless television - American Idol from Tues & Wed. I love my DVR.

Cheers to bad singing and saddle seats!

Friday, February 9, 2007

The Second Friday

I have now completed my second week here. I am pretty burned out, but in a good way. Is that possible? For the first time in my life I think it may be.

Superbowl Sunday, Cornbread and I tasted at Sebastiani. Neither of us had been there before, so it was a perfect day to do a couple tastings after a late breakfast (I guess when we're older, we'll call this brunch). The tasting room gal was extremely friendly, chatting with us about the wines, the grounds, the history, the old labels, you name it. It was such a pleasure having her as our pourer...many times the staff won't even look at you, let alone talk to you about the winery & wines.

Cheers to friendly tasting room staff!

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Wined & Dined

Since I started this new job only a week ago, I have been wined & dined to death. Well, not sure that that's actually possible considering how much I love food & wine. So I may die of a heart attack...the food is plentiful & rich, and the wine is everywhere. Takes some getting used to. AutoCAD boxes in offices didn't exactly thrill me - wine bottles, now that's office decor.

Today will be my fourth "work lunch" - basically someone in the office taking me out for lunch for orientation. My favorite orientation in existence. Not only is today's lunch paid for by someone else, but it's Rutherford Grill, home of my favorite side dish in the world - wild rice salad.

So far I have enjoyed lunches at:
~Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen: papaya & avacado salad - absolutely delicious but quite small and a little pricey
~Market: Top two of the best mac & cheese I've ever had (Underwood in Graton is the other)
~Pizzeria Tra Vigne: My first experience with a piadine - basically a small pizza crust with a caprese salad on top, folded in half like a taco and sooooo good. I ate the whole thing, which is an accomplishment given its size, but not a surprise coming from me.

Cheers to wine industry new-hire "orientations"!

You learn something new everyday...

On January 19, I learned that you can move on.

Last Tuesday, I learned that moving on is actually quite scary...yet thrilling.

Yesterday I learned that there was finally a name for my age group (those of us between Gen X and Gen Y): The Millenials. Sounds like a trippy 60s soul rock band.

Today I learned that there are no wine writers in the industry between the ages of 21 - 30.

Today I decided to change that. No, I won't be writing for Wine Spectator or Wine Enthusiast, or even the Napa Valley freebie papers, but I will write here as often as I can. I'll tell you about my adventures in the world of wine (probably referred to later in this blog as WoW, because I know how many people dig acronyms), tastings, reviews, people I meet, and more.

Cheers to starting a new life!