A Passion for Pinot
Passion is the key to finding happiness in a job if you decide to reenter the workforce during the retirement stage of your life. I speak from experience. I took early retirement and, along with my partner, moved out of the Big Smoke to a town out in the country. Emerging wine country. Prince Edward County (PEC) to be exact.
We sold up our respective condos and bought a house together and settled into county life. Redecorating, gardening, exploring the vineyards, long days spent at Sandbanks Provincial Park occupied both of us for about a year.
Painting and drawing and all things art were also my daily pursuits as was book writing and hauling rocks (for garden walls) for my significant other. My paintings were selling, we were freelancing for our advertising clients, and yet I still wanted to do something else. But, what?
We embraced the County life to the fullest. That also included attending town council meetings, joining the Arts Council and reading the local paper: The Picton Gazette.
And there, one day, in the paper’s classifieds, was a tiny want ad.
Waupoos Estates Winery Seeks Tasting Bar Server
Part time position.
Seasonal employment – May 15 through October 15.
Includes serving samples, retail sales and stocking the shelves.
Experience and knowledge of wines an asset but not necessary.
Must be 18 years or older.
Minimum wage. 20 hours/week (weekends included).
Passion surged through my veins. I have been known to say “If I could do it all over again, knowing what I know now, I’d be in the wine business”. Suffice it to say, I am passionate about wine.
And here was the perfect opportunity. In a perfect location. And at the winery in the County whose product I truly had passion for.
A quick résumé was drawn up listing my ‘qualifications’.
- A passion for wine and a very extensive tasting history!
- An above average knowledge of wines. I know a Cabernet from a Merlot or Pinot Noir when it comes to reds. And, on the white front, a Chardonnay from a Riesling or a Sauvignon Blanc – as well as the many other varietals in between.
- No retail sales experience except a summer job in my teens selling toys at the Montreal Children’s Hospital.
- Some marketing experience. (Hint: no past experience is too insignificant when job hunting these days).
- Over 18.
- Trustworthy, punctual and reliable, and physically strong.
Questions and Doubts
I asked myself if I could deal with meeting the public. Could I speak to strangers about the winery, it’s history, its grapes and production? Could I sell their product? Was $9.00 an hour okay in comparison to what I used to earn? Could I lift and carry cases of wine up the stairs from the cellar?
In response to all my own questions I answered with a resounding ‘yes’ — in all respects.
I’m not shy. I love to meet people. I speak two languages. I’m punctual and responsible. I learn fast. I love the product. I’m strong. And, did I mention I was over 18? Way over.
So, the résumé was mailed off and anticipation of a response set in.
Totally nervous and thinking no one would hire me, I arrived on time and took a seat in the winery office. My interviewer, Cindy, manager of the winery’s tasting bar and boutique, was a young woman in her mid twenties. She was professional and well spoken, and knew exactly who she was looking for to work with her and her small team.
Turns Out It Was Me!
The rest is history. I even got a $1.00/hour raise after the first week. I was a natural. I worked hard, sold a ton of wine and made lasting friendships with not only my delightful colleagues, but also with the owners Ed and Rita and their dog Felix.
As well, I made long-term friends with return customers from everywhere throughout Ontario and Quebec and tourists from Europe and the States. To this day I stay in touch with many people whom I met and served over the five years I lived in PEC and whilst I worked in the winery.
Summers passed quickly; the grapes in the vineyards transformed themselves from first sprouting in the spring, through hot summer growth to full ripeness and harvest in autumn. Even winter played her role by freezing grapes left on the vines to become, if conditions were optimal, Ice Wine!
I learned an amazing amount about the wine making process — and the passion and dedication it takes to produce a quality vintage.
And, to top it all off, even at just $10.00/hour, I saved enough money every season to pay for a very nice vacation for my partner and I during the winter!