spit or swallow

10 Jul

Welcome to the first post on my blog Oenophyte
(eeh no fight).

I recently started in marketing at a Napa Valley winery. Previously I worked at a motorcycle dealership in Sonoma County in marketing and sales.

The position at the motorcycle shop challenged me professionally and as a human. Somehow I managed to stick with selling bikes from my mid twenties through my early thirties. I’m 31 years old now. I could literally go on for days about the chicanery that came along with a commission-based sales involving the general public – but I’ll save that for another day and another blog.

My goal with Oenophyte is to post weekly sharing my experiences as an “oeno-neophyte.” If you you are still confused about the name, I made it up to mean mean – one who is new to wine.

So yes, I am new to wine.

Mom and Dad were and are not drinkers. My mother’s entire involvement with wine consisted of buying one box of Franzia’s White Zinfandel annually for a party she threw for colleagues.

At the experimental age of fifteen, my closest friend and I stole into the hall closet of my house where Mom stored the Franzia (does it ever go bad? does it improve with age?). We each poured it into coffee mugs, disguising our underage drinking as cocoa or tea.

That was the first night wine had ever touched my lips – and I thought it was plum awful! Granted, that was also the first time alcohol had touched my lips and to be honest, I don’t think I “liked” it until I was in my twenties. We thought all booze tasted something awful; and if it wasn’t for the peer pressure and “buzz” we were after, we would have surely opted for a cold and frothy milkshake or a glass of cold apple juice.

We were curious knuckleheads. What can I say?

For all the wine drinkers that may be reading this … don’t blacklist me yet!  I can assure you that I DID graduate to bottled wine soon after the box wine experience. In fact, the first time I copped a true honest to goodness buzz was off of Boone’s Strawberry Hill.

Uhh … anyone still listening? Well, Boone’s was the next step, but I wouldn’t truly call it graduating.

Wine didn’t become a part of my drinking repertoire until I was in my early twenties, and even still I was a beer drinker at heart. In 2004 I moved to Sonoma County. My best friend worked at Roshambo Winery at the time and her boyfriend worked at Sante’s restaurant in Geyserville as a chef.

When I was new in town, I remember attending parties primarily attended by Sonoma County winemakers and others involved in the wine industry. It was  a smorgasbord of wine people. It was only until I moved to Sonoma County that I started to look wine in the legs – I mean, eyes.

Many of my customers at the motorcycle dealership were involved in the wine industry either as winemakers, cellar masters, vintners, wine marketing professionals, etc. Just lovely and gorgeous bottles of wine often and graciously found their way to my desk throughout the years; one of the perks I hadn’t intended on working in the industry.

Paradigm, Grgich Hills, Paro, Clos Du Val, Mer Soleil, Boheme and on and on.

Landing my current winery position had nothing to do with my wine knowledge. I can assure you of that. The winery (let’s refer to them as BCD) that had extended the offer recognized how my greenness might bring a breath of fresh air, exciting new ideas and trainability to custom tailor me to BDC; their business culture and way of doing things.

Anxious to depart from the motorcycle industry, I was proactive about seeking jobs in other industries and if anyone knows anything about Sonoma and Napa Counties – they know there’s a LOT to do with wine!

I thrust my greenness into my interview and apparently it worked. Either that, or nobody else experienced and qualified enough would accept the pay which for all practical purposes is average considering my skill and experience level. No complaints here.

In any event, I wanted to give a background sketch on my wine experience before launching into the body of my blog. I ENCOURAGE feedback, followers and questions. I am up for any challenge. I an reaching out and hoping to learn as much as I can about this beautiful industry and hope you join me.


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