Monday, September 14, 2020

Book Review: The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh


What happens when a botanist gets her hand on a book about the meaning of flowers?  She gets one of her quickest reads in years.  

The Book:  The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh is a novel about young Victoria, a girl who is in the foster care system in the San Francisco Bay Area.  The story follows her life from her adolescent years as a foster child, through her emancipation from foster care on to her young adult years.  Victoria was given up as an infant, and she then bounced around the foster care system for 18 years.  The descriptions of her experiences in various potential adoption situations, followed by her life as an adolescent and teen in group homes vividly portrays what many children in the foster care system experience.  

The story may resonate with me because it is set in San Francisco and in the North Coast viticultural area of California.  Victoria lives most of her childhood within the San Francisco Bay Area.  Her life really changes when a vineyard owner becomes her guardian.  The vineyard owner, Elizabeth, farms her own land and welcomes young Victoria into her home and teaches her all about grape growing.  Elizabeth also has an extensive lexicon of flowers, knowing the meaning of each flower in the garden.  Elizabeth finds an apt pupil in Victoria, and they form their own language of flowers during their evolving relationship.  

Victoria is a strong willed, and sometimes violent child who has a hard time finding a family that will become her adopted family.  She is taken in by Elizabeth, and almost becomes Elizabeth's daughter, but it doesn't happen.  You see the relationship build, but also how it is marred during their time together.  

Once Victoria turns 18 she is no longer a ward of the state, and she has to find her own way in the world.  Homeless in a park, she finds a job at a flower shop after she wows the owner with the exquisite and meaningful bouquets she presents to her.  Victoria is a natural florist, and can find the perfect flowers for every customer, for every situation and for every need.  Quickly she is indispensable at the flower shop and she is starting to establish herself as an adult in San Francisco.

Victoria does fall in love with someone who understands her affection for flowers.  They form a solid relationship.  All relationships are fraught with problems and misunderstandings, this one is no different.  The relationship is severed, suddenly, by Victoria, and you wonder how she is going to keep herself together.

Reconciliation does happen, on Victoria's terms, and her future happiness is probable.  Reading this story, I really appreciate that Vanessa Diffenbaugh does not paint a portrait of innocence and victimhood in her descriptions of Victoria.  She shows Victoria's faults as well as her talents.  

The Botany:  This book talks about flowers and their meanings.  In Victorian times (it should be noted that our main character is Victoria) flowers and their secret meanings were used to communicate messages between people.  Flowers continue to communicate messages now.  Here are the flowers and their messages that I'm interpreting this this summer:  

Fennel = Strength.  Fennel is growing with abandon in my garden this year.  I spied a flock of goldfinches pecking out fennel seed yesterday, and fennel is a great habitat for Yellow Swallowtail Butterfly caterpillars.

Grapevine = Abundance.  With the grapevines being laden with fruit right now, you can see the abundance around you.

Oregano = Joy.  I have planted oregano in every incarnation of it this spring.  Variegated, Greek, Italian.  I hope it brings a lot of joy to my household.

Sage = Good Health and a Long Life.  My sages this year have been so drought tolerant and are thriving everywhere I have them in the garden.  I hope it signals good health and a long life for my family during the pandemic and afterwards.

Wheat = Prosperity.  At the beginning of the pandemic my straw bale sprouted and a small crop of wheat was soon flourishing by my compost pile.  

Scarlet Pimpernel = Change.  Every spring this flower finds itself in my garden, along my walkways and places where I least expect it.  I have a new patch of it coming up in a recently planted flowerbed.  I hope this brings good change.  We could all use it.  

Definitely a well written book.  The Language of Flowers was a fun discovery. 

Thursday, September 3, 2020

Time to Polish Up Your Resume: Ideas, Resources, Templates

With little warning, the pandemic has thrown many people into job search mode.  Many of my readers are finding themselves starting over, looking for a job, any job.  To have a fighting chance at landing a suitable position, now's the time to get the job hunt going in full force.  First item of business:  Get your resume updated.  

I've often written about how to make a great resume.  I do think you can write your own resume, and here's how.   I've also compiled my other resume writing advice here

To get started, use a resume template.  Some good ones I've mentioned in the past are on  Recently I have learned about Resume Genius.  They have some great templates and also information about how to write your resume, what to put on it, and how to format it.  I enjoyed their advice on The One Page Resume and The Two Page Resume.  I'm a fan of a one pager, but know that it is tough for an experienced professional to get everything on one page, so I'll concede to a two page resume if completely necessary, just make sure the first page counts!  And don't have the dreaded one-and-about-a-half-page resume.  If you need two pages, fill both pages up.

Not everyone is up for writing their own resume.  With COVID, resume writers are coming out of the woodwork, and plenty of them aren't worth the fee they charge you for a mediocre resume.  Robin Ryan wrote a great article for Forbes Careers about how to avoid getting duped when hiring a resume writer.  Robin is a resume writer, and encourages you to do your homework on the person who will be making your prime marketing piece for your next career move.   

Robin recommends finding a resume writer who has strong referrals, someone who has hiring and work experience in your industry, and someone who takes the time to learn about you and turns around the resume to you in a timely manner.  

Robin also wrote about five resumes mistakes to avoid.  This was all spot on with what I experience with resumes.  While taking her advice, here's another great article from Rebecca Henninger of the Forbes Coaches Council about what your resume should look like in 2020.  

If you find yourself out of a job, treat your job hunt like a job.  Have daily tasks, work with your professional network, and stay on top of industry news.  And keep on keeping on.  If there was ever a time when people will understand that you are job hunting, now is the time.

And don't forget to send me your new resume!

Thursday, August 20, 2020

WineTalent Classifieds: Viticulturist in the Salinas Valley

WineTalent is working with our client, Scheid Family Wines, to find a Viticulturist to manage the company’s vineyard farming and viticulture practices. 
About the Company:  Scheid Family Wines is a family owned and operated vineyard and winery with 11 estate vineyards on over 4,000 acres in the Salinas Valley.  Scheid Family Wines is committed to farming the highest quality grapes.  All of the vineyards are certified sustainable by the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance.
About the Position:  The Viticulturist manages the Scheid Family Wines vineyard farming and viticulture practices. The Viticulturist collaborates and works closely with vineyard management and the viticulture team. This individual will utilize their technical viticulture expertise and solid agricultural techniques to promote vine health and sustainability, crop yield and the quality of the fruit that is produced. The Viticulturist maintains and continues to develop Scheid Family Wines’ commitment to sustainable farming practices.

  • Manage the Scheid Family Wines (SFW) vineyard farming and viticulture practices including the following:
  • Establish and manage mechanical based precision viticulture programs and farming
  • Collaborate on the planning and budgeting, implement the plan and manage the costs
  • Oversee pruning, tying, shoot thinning, shoot positioning, trellis and canopy manipulation, suckering, weed control, cultivation, crop estimation, crop thinning, irrigation scheduling, nutrition, pest and fungicide management and harvest coordination
  • Coordinate and implement training and education for ranch managers and vineyard labor force regarding education of basic viticulture, mechanical farming, and precision agriculture techniques
  • Active member of the viticulture team providing input from core competencies such as vine nutrition, pest management and other inputs that strengthen the team’s approach to farming decisions.
  • Develop and implement nutrition programs and validate results through petiole analysis and other diagnostic processes
  • Collaborate with viticulture and technology teams to establish data flows in a Precision Agriculture management setting, turning data into action
  • Support key seasonal data collection efforts, including crop estimations
  • Continued development of the viticulture program documents
  • Develop and implement pest prevention programs including soil borne pests, mealy bugs, mites, leaf hopper, fungicides, Botrytis, Eutypa and other related diseases
  • Manage trial blocks and experimental varieties and techniques
  • Trial blocks for quality enhancements
  • Nutrition trials and all trials that are advancing wine quality
  • Work directly with the winemaking team in establishment of specific wine quality needs relative to mechanical viticulture and precision agriculture.

  • BS or MA Degree in viticulture, plant science, horticulture, agronomy or related discipline
  • 3 to 5 years viticulture experience or combination with directly related vineyard experience
  • Experience with vineyard operations, farming, or related agricultural experience a plus

  • PCA license or ability to gain a PCA license within the first 12 months preferred
  • Demonstrated solid knowledge of viticulture practices
  • Strong partnering skills and ability to work with a team
  • Computer skills including MS Office, and practical competence with agriculture-oriented computer applications
  • Rudimentary understanding of winemaking to assist with understanding winegrowing goals and fruit/wine quality grading
  • Ability to work overtime (extended hours and weekends) as required
  • Ability to understand any and all safety requirements
  • Clean DMV record

  • This is a full-time, salaried position.
  • Competitive compensation depending on experience plus benefits including medical, dental and 401K

About WineTalent:  WineTalent is a wine industry focused recruitment company. We work closely with our clients and our job seekers to find the right fit of talents, experience and work environment. All inquiries will be kept strictly confidential.

Please email resume and all inquiries to  

WineTalent:  The Right People for the Job

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

WineTalent Classifieds: Estate Director for Luxury Santa Barbara Winery

 WineTalent is working with our Santa Barbara Winery Client to find an Estate Director.

About the company: WineTalent’s client is a luxury estate winery producing highly sought-after wines from a highly regarded AVA. The winery has a stellar team including an estate Vineyard Manager, Winemaker and a world-renowned consulting winemaker. Join the team in an important role that is integral to the success of the winery. 

About the opportunity: WineTalent is seeking an Estate Director to oversee the sales and marketing of the business to increase the brand awareness with consumers and trade professionals.


  • Provide day-to-day and longer-term general management leadership to the business.
  • Lead the sales and marketing activities to position the brand in the luxury product arena.
  • Accountable for winery's revenue, expenses and profitability.
  • Oversee marketing initiatives to ensure increased customer engagement including winery visits, wine club membership and wine purchases.
  • Manage wholesale sales including strategic initiatives.
  • Emphasize direct trade selling with all staff.
  • Manage outsourced consultants in digital, social marketing and content development.
  • Create routine and specific reporting to keep ownership engaged with business developments and performance.
  • Ensure sales and marketing plans match production levels and budgeted revenue generation.
  • Consistently deliver high touch consumer engagement across all channels.
  • Management of human and financial resources.

What the Job Requires:

  • Senior level management experience in a wine focused business.
  • At least 3 years of winery experience in a management, hospitality, and marketing role.
  • Bachelor's degree in Business, Finance, Communications, Marketing or related is strongly preferred. Work history in lieu of a degree will also be considered.
  • Extensive wine business experience to create successful plans, budgets, forecasts and initiatives for the winery.
  • Thorough understanding of DTC and wholesale sales channels.
  • Strong communication skills.
  • Proven personnel management to ensure collaborative team environment.
  • Luxury product and/or lifestyle marketing experience.

About WineTalent: WineTalent is a wine industry focused recruitment company. We work closely with our clients and our job seekers to find the right fit of talents, experience and work environment.

WineTalent: The Right People for the Job

All inquiries will be kept strictly confidential

To apply please email your resume to   

Friday, August 7, 2020

When Living in the Era of COVID, Pack a Picnic

Everything I do now is premeditated.  If I'm planning to go to the store. I have to think about what hours are the least crowded, what I need, is there anything I need to stock up on, and do I have a mask?  If I want to go for a hike I have to think about things like when are the fewest people on the trail, do I need a mask, do I have a snack and water since any snack bar or kiosk may be closed?  And don't even get me started on public bathrooms.  I'm really tired from having to think through all these small details before I do anything.  It's enough to keep me home.  BUT I NEED TO GET OUT OF THE HOUSE!  

Being in the wine world, marketing has often shown beautiful people enjoying picnics in the vineyards.  Companies in wine country specialize in making and delivering gourmet picnic baskets for tourists to enjoy at the location of their choice.  Having picnicking spots has made some wineries hugely successful (especially this one in the Napa Valley).  

Reading Julia Child's autobiography, My Life In France, she and her husband, Paul, greatly enjoyed packing a picnic basket and a thermos of coffee before heading out over the French countryside for the day.  And their picnic was often accompanied by a nice bottle of wine.  Thinking of Julia and Paul relaxing along a waterway or near a beautiful old castle has been seared into my mind for years.  

Having worked from home for over 16 years now, during my lunch break I often watch cooking shows.  Years ago Michael Chiarello had his Easy Entertaining cooking show on Food Network.  I caught his Biking Picnic, and learned how to make a delicious grilled chicken sandwich to throw in my bike's pannier for a roadside picnic.  For years I made the sandwich, thinking of having a bike picnic.  When life gives me a pandemic, I pack my picnic basket. 

To GET OUT OF THE HOUSE I've been coordinating cycling trips with my pod posse.  My friends and I synchronize our watches and all show up at a predetermined spot early the next morning.  Unloading bikes, getting sunblocked and then clicking shoes into our pedals, we are soon exploring new areas.  This cycling posse has turned into a great group of friends who all enjoy getting out in the sunshine and seeing new sights.  They are also all good conversationalists, a bonus when pedaling together for a few hours.  

Cycling in the era of a pandemic has meant that afterwards we can't stop by the local cafe or brewery to grab lunch and a cold drink.  Here's where the picnic comes in.  We all bring something to contribute and bring out our coolers after the ride.  We've been enjoying submarine sandwiches, lavash rolled sandwiches, muffins, fresh fruit and cookies.  Washing those down with a cold local brew really makes the meal.  Being outside on a picnic blanket with friends, socially distanced, makes this pandemic a bit easier to digest.  

I'm finding that picnicking really scratches that communal dining itch I've been suffering from these days.  I hope you go get yourself a pic-a-nic basket sometime soon.   

Friday, July 17, 2020

Book Review: Garlic and Sapphires by Ruth Reichl

This past weekend found me sitting in a tiny collapsible REI Flexlite chair by Loon Lake in the Desolation Wilderness, catching up on my reading.  First I plowed through three months of Wine Spectators.  Then my backlog of Food & Wine.  What a culture shock to read these glossy mags while avoiding COVID in the beauty of the wilderness.  The magazines were published both before we were ordered to shelter in place and after we were reeling from the changes the virus has foisted on all of us.  The older magazines were filled with alluring photos of travel, restaurants and posh wine and food events in major tourist destinations.   The more current issues were discussing how COVID was changing the hospitality industry and how we are managing our day-to-day activities. 

Escaping to the wilderness was heavenly.  Being in the great outdoors, breathing clean pine-scented air while taking in sweeping vistas recharged me.  It allowed me to forget about the very real issue of the resurgence of COVID back home.  Thank goodness! 

Reading food and wine magazines while car camping was also a juxtaposition.  Warming bratwurst on a stick is fun and delicious, when you are camping.  Looking at tempting desserts made by world class chefs was downright awful.  I'd love to have a chocolate mousse right there while reading my magazines, but had to settle for a s'more.  That is what camping does for you--brings you back to the things that matter, and forces you to enjoy the big picture and the little things too.

While camping I also was able to finish Ruth Reichl's book, Garlic and Sapphires.  I have thoroughly enjoyed her other books; Tender at the Bone and Comfort Me with Apples.  Ruth has a great way of talking about her lifetime relationship with food with a healthy dash of recipes and a good helping of humor and humility.  Garlic and Sapphires recounts Ruth's time as the restaurant critic for The New York Times.  During her tenure there she was reviewing many world renowned restaurants, both at their nascent stage and also ones that had become New York institutions.  She became a mistress of disguise, putting on different characters to dine incognito at restaurants that were on the lookout for The Times critic.  Her tales of the personas she adopted, her friends' and family's reaction to these new women and the descriptions of the meals she had are hilarious. 

Garlic and Sapphires was published in 2005.  Reading her stories is still as current as ever, but there are some glaring historical incidents that have occurred since the book was written.  Ruth does occasionally reference the World Trade Center bombing.  She is referring to the 1993 World Trade Center Bombing.  This comes to light when she recounts her visiting Windows on the World in the World Trade Center.  Windows on the World was a destination restaurant for many wine lovers.  The wine director there, Kevin Zraly, taught many people about wine in his Windows of the World Wine School.  Reading about Windows on the World and the wines that Ruth drank there made me yearn for that restaurant, even if her final review was only one star. 

To read Garlic and Sapphires in this new, historically-significant era was both comforting and thought provoking.  Food and wine will always bring people together.  Right now we can't be together.  But we shall overcome our current viral pandemic, and get to enjoy food, wine, libations, family and friends again, together, in the near future.  And yes, I'll still be camping as often as possible.

Garlic and Sapphires:  ****  (four stars!)

Ironically, while reading Garlic and Sapphires, Ruth was also profiled in Food & Wine.  It was fun to get her current comments about her career and the culinary world.

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Winery Intern Positions Job Board

Wineries need good interns for the 2020 harvest.  If you are looking for a job, would enjoy learning how wine is made, and are ready to work hard with great people, visit the Napa Valley Vintners job board:

Job Board Created for Napa Valley Wineries Hiring this Harvest Season

7/15/2020 - St. Helena, CA – The Napa Valley Vintners has launched a matchmaking webpage that connects job seekers with Napa Valley winemaking teams looking to hire this harvest season.  
In a typical year, Napa Valley’s harvest intern positions are largely sought out by international applicants. With the interruption of international travel, and freeze on J-1 educational exchange visas related to Covid-19, winemakers are optimistic that workforce needs will be filled by local talent.    
More than 25 Napa Valley wineries are currently seeking interns, and hopto attract workers who want to deepen their wine knowledge or wish to explore a career in winemaking. 
“A harvest internship provides an opportunity to learn about every aspect of wine production and can be helpful for those considering a career in winemaking as well as for those in related industries,” said Matt Reid, winemaker at Benessere Vineyards.  
“Understanding the process of winemaking can yield insights that are helpful to many careers. For example, a wine buyer can ask better-informed questions, or a sommelier can better describe how a wine was produced,” said Reid. 
While prior cellar experience is not necessarythere are several character traits that winemakers agree are essential to working a harvest.  
“Those that have the highest aptitude for the work typically possess a maniacal attention to detail, a tireless work ethic, and the ability to meet adverse situations head onall while keeping an upbeat attitude,” said Josh Widamanwinemaker at Lewis Cellars. 
For those who might wonder what role a harvest intern plays, Widaman said, “Every task that they complete is integral to the making of wine. We hope that they will leave here with an in-depth knowledge of the complete process from dirt to glass. 
Applicants are encouraged to explore job postings at 
About the Napa Valley Vintners 
The Napa Valley Vintners nonprofit trade association has been cultivating excellence since 1944 by inspiring its 550 members to consistently produce wines of the highest quality, to provide environmental leadership and to care for the extraordinary place they call home. Learn more at
Contact: Teresa Wall, Senior Director of Marketing Communications - 707-968-4210,

Sunday, July 12, 2020

WineTalent Classifieds: Winery Office Manager in Napa Valley

WineTalent is working with our Napa Valley client to find a Winery Office Manager.

About the company:  WineTalent’s client is a luxury estate winery producing highly sought-after wines from organically grown grapes.  The winery has a rich history in the Napa Valley.  Join the team in an important role that is integral to the success of the winery. 

About the opportunity:  WineTalent is seeking an Office Manager to manage the administrative aspects of the winery.  This role will work directly with ownership and the General Manager in all aspects of business operations and administration to meet the demands of the company.  The Office Manager manages the company’s accounting, human resources, compliance, inventory management and service agreements.  This role will act as the primary point of contact for all service providers related to essential functions of the business. 

·     Establish SOP’s for purchase order and invoice receipt management.
·     Assist third-party accounting group with AR management, including deposits.
·     Direct and manage expense reporting, including SOP’s, systems, policy updates and company card management.
·     Liaise with and manage third party IT consultants to ensure IT service agreement and scope of accountability is effectively executed.
·     Manage all aspects of payroll, staying current on related state and federal labor laws. 
·     Develop and maintain a high level of knowledge about the company’s ERP system and its operating protocols. Default resource for ERP updates, troubleshooting and training.
·     Direct inventory management SOP’s and manage inventory movements, employee withdrawals and monthly reconciliation.
·     Manage relationships with, and troubleshooting of, the company’s utilities.
·    Collaborate with third party HR group and benefits brokers to assist in HR administration including
·      annual updates to the Company’s employee handbook
·      employee file management
·      employee on-boardings and separations
·      census reporting
·       benefits meeting coordination and benefits enrollment
·     Liaise with third-party compliance group to ensure state and federal permits and licenses are renewed on a timely basis. Set-up and manage COLA submissions in house through the TTB on-line web portal.
·     Manage office maintenance and janitorial services, office supplies and service contracts for copiers, scanners, printers and other communal administrative hardware.
·     Responsible for timely and accurate processing of wholesale orders with an emphasis on customer service
·     Provides support to the sales team.
·     Manages general administrative needs of entire company, including office, and internal and external communications in support position of the General Manager.
·     Administrative tasks as required.

What the Job Requires:
·       BA or BS or equivalent combination of education and experience
·       5 plus years of experience in similar position
·       Demonstrated business acumen and an innate understanding of wine production, hospitality, and customer service excellence
·       Ability to participate as a team leader to deliver financial and strategic results and exceptional customer service standards
·       Medium to advanced accounting skills
·       High level of proficiency with MS Office, specially Excel, and QuickBooks, as well as POS and database applications
·       Ability to establish priorities, work independently and proceed with objectives without supervision
·       Interpersonal awareness, relationship management and influencing skills
·       Must be proactive and have strong organizational skills including exceptional attention to detail and follow-through
·       High degree of integrity and strong work ethic
·       A valid CA driver’s license is required

About WineTalent: WineTalent is a wine industry focused recruitment company. We work closely with our clients and our job seekers to find the right fit of talents, experience and work environment.

WineTalent: The Right People for the Job
If you are interested in applying, email your resume to

All inquiries will be kept strictly confidential

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Cranky Recruiter: Who Are You??

Hello Friends!  What a crazy ride the last few months have been!  I've missed meeting up with my wine friends and colleagues, and can't wait until we are back to normal--not just a new normal.  Perhaps months of SIP has made me a bit more cranky.  As I sprint to the end of this week, I have been going through lots of emails.  And something continues to make me cranky; opening up an email from someone, and they are asking for my help with their job search.  That's the entire message.  If I'm lucky, they sign the email with a name and a phone number.  Sometimes it's just an email with no greeting, no salutation and no name.  Seems they could have given their job search a little more thought, but that could just be me, Cranky Recruiter.

So, as a good recruiter, I never just trash these messages.  It could be that candidate I've been meaning to call.  When I have the time, I go back and figure out who it is.  I don't always have time, and those emails sit in my inbox for days, weeks, but hopefully never for months.

Columbo turns 50 - why we still love Peter Falk's crumpled ...
"Just one more question"
When I get time, and those messages in my inbox finally drive me crazy, I go and figure out who sent me the message.  Colombo has always been my favorite detective, and I would be a private eye if I wasn't a recruiter.  Not coincidentally, a recruiter should be a good detective: finding holes in candidate stories, looking for inconsistencies in resumes, discovering incriminating evidence when doing references.  And I am happy to dig into someone's past if I smell something fishy.  But that's once we've gotten to know each other, and most likely during the vetting process of a job search.  When we are just starting out in our relationship, I am more than happy to be led to the information--information such as your name, your phone number, what types of jobs you might be looking for, etc.

I've got an idea, send me your resume every time you email me if you are wanting to get a job.  You could frame it as, "I just made a few edits to this and wanted to make sure you have the best version" or "for a quick reminder, here's my resume again".  I'm not proud of the fact that I can't remember everyone who has been in touch with me.  I do have a great memory, but sometimes fatigue sets in and I just get cranky when I get this type of blind email.

Here's how you can turn my frown upside down: I am always happy for people to check in with me, and I encourage it.  At the end of many first phone introductions with job seekers I tell them to check in with me in a few weeks.  I even say it keeps them at the top of my mind--which it does.  Sincerely, I mean it, check in with me.  But when you do, make sure it's super easy for me to know who you are.  If you don't want to attach the resume, put something in the message about what types of jobs you are looking for, when we last talked, a funny anecdote, or a link to your LinkedIn profile.

Why?  I'll get back to you quicker, I'll be in a good mood, and I'll have positive thoughts around the message you just sent me.  I'm never cranky when someone gives me all the information I need, before I need it. 

Have a wonderful Independence Day!  Getting that off my chest has made me happier already!  Ready to binge watch some Peter Falk and see what mysteries he can solve for me over the weekend.  And an enophile's favorite episode: