Monday, March 29, 2010

Where in the Wine World is WineTalent

Had some great visits in Lodi, Lockeford and one other place this past Friday. This winery collective has been resurrected from a sweet factory by the river. It is a true brick and mortar business model. Several wineries have tasting rooms there, and there is a custom crush facility. While I may beet around the bush, can you tell me where I was? There were quite a few people milling around, and I have to thank an innocent bystander for this great photo. Try the syrah and chenin blanc when you visit.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Take Their Advice: Why to Trust your Wine Shop Staff

Recently one of the discussions threads in my LinkedIn group was asking how people decide to try a new wine. It was asking how people take the plunge with a high priced bottle of wine. Having traveled Northern California's wine country extensively, and having seen a good deal of the European wine country, I know there is a lot I don't know. I also know there are so many wines, I could never get to know a tiny fraction of them. So how can a consumer wade through the wine section and make a good decision, let along sink some major cash into 750 mls of a perishable product.

Well, for many people, wine scores help. I am perfectly happy to read my Wine Spectator and see how wines are doing. When I get a fancy bottle at an auction or as a gift, I steal away to my computer to see how it fared with the palates of those who taste a lot of wine. While I keep my own tasting notes, it is fun to look at those of the experts and see if I detected the same characteristics.

But I'm a big fan of trying the road less traveled, and there are a lot of wines out there that never make it in front of the wine critics. So when I go into a wine shop to try some new wines, what do I do? I ask the wine shop staff what I should try. Yes, I use some sage advice I gleaned from the Wall Street Journal's former wine writers, and tell the clerk what my budget is--which is often $20, $15 or $10 and lower. When I have a good clerk they don't see these price points as a problem, but more as a challenge. I've had some great $8 wines that to this day I want more of.

So why the heck would I trust a clerk at a wine shop? Because they often get to taste the wines, and at a good shop, have tasted all the wines they recommend, and know my palate. Dick's Picks at Taylor's market seem to be perfect for my tastes--and are often unusual wines I wouldn't have tried otherwise.

I also encourage people to go to wine shops where they can try before they buy. Getting to have a taste of the $50 Napa Cab before you buy it makes you know you are going to like it, and maybe even buy an extra bottle for a friend. Here locally Selland's market does a great job of letting you have several nice wines to try that are also for sale in the small wine shop. Too often I walk out of there with a mixed case running the gamut of bottle prices.

So, next time that nice person at the wine shop asks you if you need help--say yes. Don't be afraid to tell them your budget, and say what your preferences are. I've even made friends this way--Corti Bros has been a great wine buying venue for me for years now.

And whether the wine shops like it or not, I do like to know when a wine scores well with the critics. But they themselves are some of my favorite critics.

And one last thing. Don't think you know nothing about wine, but only what you like. You know something already--what you like. Go out and see what else you might like, and enjoy yourself.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Remembering a Friend: Nancy Tibbitts

Last month I attended the UC Davis Internship and Career Fair, an event I have participated in for many years. I missed a familiar face, and was very sad to hear that one of the career center staff, Nancy Tibbitts, a friend and mentor of mine, had passed away late last year. This revelation rocked me to the core. This woman had been so helpful in my career; helping me get my first on-campus research job, guiding me in my first few job decisions, suggesting career moves when I was relocating, and then as a colleague during my years in recruiting. I often called her to let her know about new positions I was recruiting for, and asked her to spread the word during a search.

Not only did Nancy assist me in my professional life, but we both shared stories about being working mothers of young children--from finding time to balance the needs of work with the real life needs of a crying, hungry baby or the juggling required of an active family. It was refreshing to check in with her, first to find out how she and the family was doing, and then to get to work on something I was needing her assistance with.

It is very sad for me that she passed away. I know I was only one of many people she helped, and in my mind she was and is indispensable. She was always happy and fun to deal with. I remember her telling me, "oh you have to take that job" and "of course you need to sign-up for an internship". Luckily I followed her advice which I often echo back to young, soon-to-graduate and recent-graduates who are figuring out their career path.

I have had a lot of great mentors in my life, and I truly count Nancy Tibbitts as one of them. I will always think of her fondly, and hope to help others in their careers like she helped me.

For others who worked with Nancy, visit her guest book on the UCD site. I send my heartfelt condolences to her family and friends.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Annonymously Posted: What your grammar!

A few posts back I asked for your patience with my comment moderation now that I've "hit the big time" with my blog. This really just means that I get lots of spam comments for new posts. I have some software that's helping cut through the obnoxious comments, but a few still get by. I quickly glance through them to make sure they are not real comments. One thing that gives them away the quickest is the terrible grammar. And here's why I am bringing it up on a career advice post. When you are communicating with a potential employer, or recruiter, take the time to proofread your missives.

Glancing through a few recently, I was asked to help people find real estate, home loans, romance and lost bank accounts. In every single one of these messages there was atrocious spelling and grammatical errors. A few seemed to be possible real comments, but then upon reading them closer, they were also spam.

So why do you need to know this. Well, wouldn't you want me to carefully review your email instead of chalking it up as spam. There is only one click of the mouse separating your message from reply or delete, save or trash, you get the idea. Even if you are not writing a professional cover letter or resume, think about putting time into reviewing your messages. That attention, or inattention to detail could be telling me something.