At the beginning of May I wrote a blog about volunteers being used for winery outside events (festivals and the like) and got an email response from Pete Johns, the Managing Partner at New Kent Winery in Virginia. Mr. Johns encourages, as do I, that all volunteers are trained, and in his winery only uses trained employees who are ServSafe certified.
“In Virginia,” Johns says, “our ABC laws are very clear. All patrons within 15 feet of the serving station are the responsibility of both the pourer and the winery they represent. If a volunteer is not properly trained and serves someone who they should not (underage or already intoxicated), and the person leaves and drives his/her car into a pole, the server and they winery they represent are both liable.”
He also went on to say that the Virginia ABC and other states are taking a very good look at this exposure and, in time, will re-write the ABC rules regarding the use of volunteers.
It’s important that, when you use volunteers, you are aware of the laws in your state, county and any other government entities that pertain to serving or selling alcohol. From a business stand point it’s also important that you provide your guests with the best service you can, and this means using people who are well trained.
The people pouring your wines during winery special events, or at outside tastings or festivals, should be knowledgeable about your wines and used to working with people. The servers need to be aware of the people they are serving. They should be checking identification regularly for anyone who may conceivably be underage (if they look under 35 card them), or notice if the guests may have over imbibed already. You must have information available for servers on the signs of intoxication, and make it part of the training material. I have information on signs of intoxication. If you want it, drop me an email and I am happy to send it to you.
If you need extra people and rely on volunteers to help you out, there are lots of jobs that they can do for you that do not entail pouring wine. And, of course, drinking anything alcoholic while working is never acceptable.
Thanks Pete for you taking the time to write!
A tip of the glass from me to you!