Experts weigh in on joys of working in a wine tasting room

Why work in a tasting room?

Every winery is looking for you.

Not just to purchase wine, but to pour it for the culinary travellers who will soon descend upon the region. After a two-year hiatus, many (wineries) are probably prepping their itineraries.

If you’ve wondered what it’s like to work in a tasting room, give it a try this year. The 2022 season may shape up to be a phenomenal opportunity to tap into emerging post- (or close to post-) pandemic trends: local, flavourful, small destinations.

First, invest in a class or two. Check out Wine Plus+ or Fine Vintage, or sign up for Wines of B.C. Ambassador Program presented by Winegrowers of British Columbia.

Meanwhile, a handful of winery folks have answered the question, “why work in a tasting room?”.

Lisa Baxter-Burke, who recently joined Blasted Church near Okanagan Falls as its experience manager, sums it up.

“If you’re going to get a job anyway, why not talk about wine every day?” She says. “Then hang out by the pool after work!”

Cindy Bode of Monte Creek Winery in Kamloops shares the sentiment.

“Working in a tasting room is such a fun experience. You get to meet different kinds of people and you get to talk about wine,” says Bode. “I truly enjoy working and sharing my love for the people, place and products we produce and sell.”

Michael Clark, co-owner and managing director at Clos du Soleil in Keremeos say guests to the winery are often on holiday, so they’re happy and relaxed.

“And there aren’t many jobs out there with customers who walk in with smiles on their faces, and then continue smiling as they open their wallets to take a bottle or two home. Everyone in the Similkameen is so proud of this stunning region, its dramatic backdrops and unique character. Pouring wine in a tasting room here will give you the pleasure of introducing people to an amazing valley that, I think, is even more beautiful than the Okanagan.”

From Vancouver Island’s Blue Grouse, Pamela Sanderson provides a good checklist.

“Working in a tasting room is the perfect job for anyone with a passion for food and wine and socializing with people,” she says. “First and foremost, it’s about hospitality and sharing a passion with interested guests. The job is very physical, but very rewarding and most tasting rooms are offering attractive wages, flexible schedules and often gratuities.”

According to Trevor Allen, assistant general manager at Township 7, which has wineries in Penticton and Langley, the experience between staff and guests is paramount.

“It’s such an enjoyable topic, and ultimately you are sharing a mutual love affair with wine,” he says. “We encourage our staff to be genuine and friendly, and no one gets a script. If you’re passionate about creating an exceptional experience, engaging all of the senses of our guests, you’ll have fun and they will have incredible memories.”

Robbie Hundertmark, estate sommelier at TIME Family of Wines, says working in a tasting room, is the best way to enjoy an industry that loves the Okanagan as much as you do.

“The wine industry is all about sense of place, and there is no better place to be than here. You are a problem-solver and an educator, an entertainer, and an ambassador. You are there to love what you do and show people why they should too. It is one of the only retail jobs where no one is unhappy to be visiting you, and everyone wants to have a good time.”

Can’t decide on one winery? Apply your passion to promote all of them at a store like Penticton’s B.C. Wine Information Centre, and you don’t need to choose.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

A creative thinker with more than two decades of experience in communications, Allison is an early adopter of social and digital media, bringing years of work in traditional media to the new frontier of digital engagement marketing through her company, All She Wrote.

She is the winner of the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association's 2011 and 2012 awards for Social Media Initiative, an International LERN award for marketing, and the 2014 Penticton Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Award for Hospitality/Tourism.

Allison has amassed a following on multiple social networks of more than 30,000, frequently writes and about social media, food and libations as well as travel and events, and through her networks, she led a successful bid to bring the Wine Bloggers Conference to Penticton in June 2013, one of the largest social media wine events in the world, generating 31 million social media impressions, $1 million in earned media, and an estimated ongoing economic impact of $2 million.

In 2014, she held the first Canadian Wine Tourism Summit to spark conversation about the potential for wine tourism in Canada as a year-round economic driver.

Allison contributes epicurean content to several publications, has been a judge for several wine and food competitions, and has earned her advanced certificate from the Wine and Spirit Education Trust.

In her spare time, she has deep, meaningful conversations with her cats.

She can be reached at [email protected]

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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