Once in awhile, I worry that I won’t find a serious wine industry job, because 1) Particularities about my looks- I am a heavily tattooed woman, who often dresses loudly, and 2) How I talk- I say “Ya’ll” and I cuss a lot. Ok… and sometimes I make fun of wine. And I know someone with a grape-vine stuck up their ass is going to think I am being disrespectful.
I figure this stuff will be an issue, here and there, because it usually is in most professional industries. However, I am inspired to persevere by the rebellious nature of Oregon’s wine pioneers, the first female wine maker in Oregon, and many other people who set out to do their thing, on their own terms. If any of my character traits are going to hold me back with some people, then I am just going to have to be better at what I do, and study harder for what there is to know. And thats not a bad thing.
The fun part, is that I get to drink wine in order to study wine.
The hard part, is that it costs money to learn, and its a damn shame that we Americans chain ourselves to the debts of our college education, long before many of us discover our true calling. For me, I am saddened that I can not afford the 2-4 months off from my regular job, in order to work for a lesser paying harvest job. I feel like it is important for me to take part in that, to understand wine on a holistic level, but it will be at least another full year before I can save up some backup money and consider the risk of leaving my job for an extended absence to go stomp on grapes.
The other fun part, is when you seek, share, and, savor with someone- a cheap bottle, or something special from someones cellar.
My first wine loves came from other countries, but since moving back to Portland, after an 11 year hiatus in the warmth of the South, I have realized that there is so much more to learn about Oregon wine then the fact that the Pinot Noir grape can flourish in the Willamette Valley.
So I have made it a point to become proficient in the details and varieties growing in the Willamette Valley. I see that knowledge lacking in many of my Portland industry peers who seem more impressed with cocktail history and mixology, these days. I feel a little alone in my little wino-world.
Most wine lovers and even novices, know Oregon is well-suited for exceptional Pinot Noir. However, the current AVA’s are perfect hosts to many other varieties of wine grapes. One of my favorite varieties that does not yet get the credit that it deserves, is Riesling. Last week I watched “American Wine Story” because it is focused around the Brooks Winery, which produces my favorite Oregon Riesling, “Ara”. The movie was touching and it made me want to drive out to the Brooks Winery later that week.
The tasting room had a nice atmosphere- clean, comfy, diverse seating options, air conditioning, music, and food! As usual, I wished that my boyfriend was with me instead of at work- because it was such a pleasurable experience. The attendant was very welcoming and thoughtful, the view was grand, the music selection was fun, and I even got to meet a lady with roots in Louisiana- and if you know me, then you know I am always excited to meet Louisianan’s/New Orleanians over here in the Pacific NW. And then the attendant pointed out that the tattooed female walking around, was their Sommelier, and I felt inspired and reinvigorated, that eventually- I will find my home in the wine biz.
Always appreciated and never expected- it was very sweet of them to comp my tasting because of my industry affiliation with serving and bartending. I am thankful that once in awhile, I have this good fortune that makes my “continuing education” cheaper, because of industry courtesies.
I hope that someday soon, I can find a way to work with wine and use my Bachelors in Cultural Anthropology, so I can at least quit bitching about my crazy student loans and the interest rates that doubled in the middle of my college career.