How Important is Wine Knowledge in the Tasting Room?

Over the last few weeks I have been doing some work with a winery in the Midwest, helping them find a general manager.  In the course of interviewing the final candidates, I asked the question, “How important is wine knowledge in the people you hire?

I got an answer from one of the candidates that I though summed things up intelligently and succinctly.

It depends on the personality the knowledge is paired with.”

Spot on! A tasting room or hospitality employee may know enough about wine to sink a ship, but if s/he doesn’t respond well to people or is only interested in talking about wine then this is not the employee for you.

You can easily teach someone about wine; it is next to impossible to change someone’s personality. So start with the personality. Will the person you hire be a good fit with your visitors, with your regular customers, with other employees in your tasting room and with the culture of your company?

You want someone who will listen to visitors and respond to what they are interested in. Information about wine can be interwoven with stories and other information in which the visitors are interested.  I have lost count of number of tasting room I have visited when the host has overwhelmed me with wine facts, most of which I have forgotten by the time I get to my car.

So next time you are hiring, hire for personality and fit; you have plenty of time to teach new employees about wine.

“Personality has power to uplift, power to depress, power to curse, and power to bless.

Paul Harris

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One comment on “How Important is Wine Knowledge in the Tasting Room?

  1. Totally agree. The last three people we’ve hired in our tasting room had never worked in one before and had little wine knowledge. They’ve been outstanding because they know how to really connect with people and they’re quickly learning all about wine.

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