Help Wanted: Work in a Tasting Room

Prime Finger Lakes wine tasting season is about to begin! To get ready, this is the time of year we add seasonal part time staff to the Sheldrake Point tasting room. Are you qualified to work in a tasting room? Let’s find out:

Who should apply?

Sheldrake Point Winery - Cayuga Tasting Room

You will get to meet people from all walks of life when you work in a tasting room!

There are a few practical qualifiers we look for in hiring staff for the Sheldrake Point tasting room:

  • Must be 21 years old
  • Must work weekends
  • Must be able to talk in front of groups
  • Must be able to lift and carry 50 pounds and utilize a dolly cart.
  • Must be able to stand for extended periods of time
  • And, candidates with prior sales, tasting room, or restaurant experience will have a shorter learning curve for this type of customer service.

What you bring to the tasting counter is important, too. We look for outgoing, enthusiastic people to who can excel in the sales-driven customer service atmosphere of the Sheldrake Point tasting room. The perfect candidate is passionate about wine and food, an “out of the box” thinker, and a team player who above all is committed to providing excellent guest experiences.

What’s it like to work in a tasting room?

Many of us who work at Sheldrake Point started our wine careers in a tasting room. It is the place where people fall in love with wine and make memories, whether you are pouring or sipping.

You might be pouring for a couple on their first day trip together, or a couple celebrating a 25th anniversary. Maybe it’s a 21st birthday weekend or a seasoned wine enthusiast completely new to the Finger Lakes scene—your work in a tasting room could be a landmark in a wine taster’s life. Tasting room staff have to be mindful of those individual experiences, often while managing tidal waves of people and wine.

As many as 500 to 1,000 visitors in a day stop at Sheldrake Point during an autumn weekend. In that festive atmosphere you will truly bond with your fellow tasting room staffers!

And since wine tasting is a leisure activity, you get to meet people who are relaxed, happy, and open to a new experience. Sometimes you meet people who really make your day, and you think, “We could be friends!” Making connections with unique visitors is a fringe benefit of tasting room work.

Top 3 tips

If you are ready to work in a tasting room, consider these tips from our seasoned staff:

Tastingcrop

A perfect candidate is passionate about wine and food, an “out of the box” thinker, and a team player committed to providing excellent guest experiences.

  1. Keep an open mind! This is so important for a job in which you interact with the public on a daily basis. You meet people from all walks of life, and it’s important to treat everyone courteously.
  2. Remember that tasting and learning about wine is supposed to be fun! Most of the time people will recall the experience they had at a winery, but not the actual wines. While it’s important to get information across, it’s just as important not to sound like a snob. And definitely don’t show disdain for their wine preferences.
  3. Be a team player. On a busy fall Saturday, working well as a team can determine how everyone feels at the end of the day. Is your coworker in the middle of a tasting and you’re not? Help cycle glassware through the wash, jump on the register to ring out the couple who has been waiting patiently, or restock wine and merchandise on the sales floor. There will always be something to do! And at the end of the day, you can all share in the success together.

Secrets of a tasting room

Okay, there aren’t really any guarded tasting room ‘secrets’. But, you should know that to work in a tasting room you don’t have to be a wine expert! You just need to want to learn about wine. That’s what our visitors come for, after all. You’ll learn about Sheldrake Point wine, then turn around and teach our customers.

Well, there is one secret.

A tasting room is always a scentless environment. That means no heavy perfumes, colognes, lotions, or any other fragrant body care product. This is an absolute necessity since so much of wine tasting is linked to the wine taster’s sense of smell. You may also want to skip the ‘fresh breeze’ fabric softener, or even the onion-laden lunch. Basically, our Sheldrake Point wine should be the only scent in the tasting room.

Selling more than wine

Tasting room staff are our wine ambassadors on the front lines. Pour them a glass of happiness!

Tasting room staff are our wine ambassadors on the front lines. Pour them a glass of happiness!

When you work in a tasting room, you are presenting wine not only as an experience, but also as a lifestyle. We want visitors to enjoy themselves today, and take home Sheldrake Point wine to enjoy tomorrow.

Bigger than selling Sheldrake Point wine is whether that person learns about Finger Lakes wine in a way that expands their minds and palates. Tasting room staff are our wine ambassadors on the front lines. Whether or not that person tasting Sheldrake Point wine becomes a lifetime customer may hinge on their experience with you pouring.

Have what it takes to brandish a corkscrew in our tasting room? Visit our Job Openings page for more information.

Born and raised in the Finger Lakes, Whitney has always been passionate about the region.  She attended Hobart and William Smith Colleges, where she earned her degree in English and Education.  After a tasting room position at a local winery, she traveled to California, New Zealand, and Washington State to work harvest and gain production experience, returning in early 2015 to join the Sheldrake Point team.