How to work in the tasting room at JUSTIN
Visiting the JUSTIN tasting room is a memorable experience for at least three reasons: A) we are located in some of the most beautiful scenery in the California Central Coast (an already stunning area) B) our guest facilities are some of the best in the area (and soon to get better) C) our wines are some of the best known in the area for their quality and character. With all of this going for us, you would think that it would be easy to sit back and let these things do all of the work for us!
Well, at JUSTIN we are committed not only to “Belong in the company of the finest wines in the world” as our mission states, but also to assure that your experience will be as memorable as the wines you taste while you are here. With that in mind, I wanted to highlight some of the activities that may not be apparent to our guests, but which provide the foundation for a memorable experience when you visit.
Working in the JUSTIN tasting room can be a lot of fun. Why not? Each day you get to meet a lot of great people and delight them with our wines! But from their first day on the job, each of your tasting room hosts began a challenging training program intended to anticipate your needs, and allow you to become as passionate about our wines as we are.
Within a few weeks of starting, everyone must pass a comprehensive exam concerning the history of the winery, the wines we make, how we make them, and the level of our commitment to customer service that assures you will receive a great experience in a fun environment from our whole crew.
The second level of training at JUSTIN is focused on how wine is made. From the vineyard to the cellar, our staff learns about soils, how vines are cared for, what decisions must be made in deciding when to pick fruit, as well as the importance of each step in the winemaking process and how it affects our wines. At this level, your hosts must have a feel for what makes our wines distinctive, including specific soil and climate information for the Paso Robles AVA and how it affects the outcome of our winemaking.
The aromas and flavors of wine are a moving target over time, so just memorizing our printed tasting notes and repeating them as you taste our wines would not connect you with the distinctive qualities that each of our wines acquire in the time that they are available for tasting. From the time they start, we begin instructing our staff on the basics of deductive wine tasting. Through regular blind tastings of a range of wines, both ours as well as a variety of classic wines from around the world and various vintages, we are able to provide our attendants with a level of expertise that allows them to rely on their personal knowledge and experience to describe our wines in a way that will make more sense to you at the moment you are visiting our tasting room.
The third level of staff training, usually completed after a year on the job, expands to include details about specific wines and winemaking styles from around the world, as well as useful food pairing skills. This third level of our training is actually meant to prepare our staff for the fourth and most rigorous step in our training program; taking the exams to become a Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW) through the Society of Wine Educators, or the Introductory Sommelier certification through the prestigious Court of Master Sommeliers, of which a few of our crew have attained both.
All this training may sound very serious and academic, but if you have been to our tasting room recently, I think you would agree that our whole staff is a fun loving group that enjoys, and is passionate about what they do. Their excitement to learn more about wine is contagious and has really helped “raise the bar” for our guests’ experience when they visit. While our training program is mostly meant to remain unseen to our visitors, it does provide the foundation for a fun and educational experience each time you visit and we are truly proud of our Tasting Room attendants’ efforts to be the best at what they do.
We hope to see you soon at the winery for a great tasting!