People that know I work in a winery tasting room often ask me what it is like. More often than not they are mildly surprised that I do it for fun. After all, people think that I am actually working when for me it is truly fun and a nice change of pace from my 'regular' life. Inevitably they want to know what it is like. I tell them that it is a unique experience. It is part bartender, part educator and part entertainer.
A typical day working at the winery is something I really enjoy. I have about an hour drive to get to Glen Ellen (just north of the town of Sonoma). The drive from my home to the winery is pleasant and peaceful and the scenery soothing. When I arrive at the winery I can see the Mayacaymus Mountains to east and vineyards spread out across the valley.
Just a little bit of background on Loxton Cellars. We are small winery that is independently owned and operated. We are located in the town of Glen Ellen. Okay, we are on the very edge of what is considered Glen Ellen. Our sign is tiny. Blink and you'll miss us. Most of the people that visit us are referred. We are located in a converted auto shop and our driveway is unpaved. Fancy we are not.
We are located in the Sonoma Valley appellation. However, we buy grapes from throughout Sonoma County. Our production focuses on wines made from Syrah & Zinfandel and our annual production is about 2,500 cases. That is not a lot really. Some people call us a boutique winery. I am not really sure what that means and in the future I have some things to say about that. :)
We are open from 11 to 5. That is pretty typical for most wineries. Our tasting room is also our barrel room. Our production equipment is outside our front door. Our bottling line arrives on the back of a tractor trailer. The only thing we don’t do on the premises is store our bottles. That is done in a secret location somewhere in Sonoma. I could tell you but then it wouldn't be a secret.
Nothing fancy but everything is special. You see where everything gets done and during harvest you’d be right in the middle of the action. So what makes special? You can walk to barrels and smell the wine from them. You get to talk to the winemaker, Chris Loxton. He is always around. People tell us we are fun, unpretentious and seem to genuinely enjoy what we are doing. The truth is we do.
So what is working in a tasting room really like? It is a lot of standing and talking. I get to meet a lot of people from a lot of different places. For the most part, people are new to wine and want to learn. They may have a little experience, know what they like but don't know why. We try to help them understand. Not everyone is going to like every wine they taste but being exposed to many different wines helps people understand what they like. Our take on the wine tasting experience is to provide an environment where people feel comfortable, we talk to them at their level and pour a little wine for them.
The experience is meant to be fun and not intimidating. That's what we try to provide. Hopefully, you have fun, learn a little and of course, we would be happy to sell you a bottle or six of our wine.
John Andrews is a software product manager during the week and is a professional Tasting Room staffer at Loxton Cellars in Glen Ellen, CA on the weekends.
The Tasting Room
- Reply by Mark Angelillo, Apr 18, 2008.
Sounds like fun, John. I'm looking forward to my tour of Loxton next week!
- Reply by Philip James, Apr 18, 2008.
John - one of my favorite winery visits was to Corda Winery, which is even less glamorous looking that Loxton. They also had the 'tasting room' in the barrel room, but it was way less bright and airy looking. Point is, it was an intimate place, where I was able to get up close to the production, learn from the winemaker and really absorb the atmosphere.
Am looking to do some of the same when we visit Loxton soon.
- Reply by Rodolphe Boulanger, Apr 28, 2008.
Great post - Can't wait to visit later this summer.