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:

Word of the Day: Unsparing

Loving new vocabulary, whenever a word comes up that I'm not sure the definition of, I look it up.  This morning I was reading a headline about the CEO of the pharmaceutical company in the forefront of developing a Coronavirus vaccine.  He was called "unsparing".  I don't know what that means if you are a CEO. 

Looking that up, Merriam-Webster had two definitions:
1:  not merciful or forbearing:  HARD, RUTHLESS
  an unsparing satire
  an unsparing critic
2.  not frugal:  LIBERAL, PROFUSE
  unsparing generosity

The synonyms didn't shed light on what this CEO must be like either:
  • bighearted
  • bounteous
  • bountiful
  • charitable
  • free
  • freehanded
  • freehearted
  • fulsome
  • generous
  • liberal
  • munificent
  • open
  • openhanded
  • unselfish
  • unstinting

  • Using unsparing in a sentence didn't help me figure it out either:
    "neighbors were unsparing in their charity when a local family was rendered homeless in a fire"
    "unsparing in his criticism of the welfare state"

    So, while I'm still perplexed about how someone can be hard and ruthless while also being liberal and profuse, the article was interesting.  I'm hoping my unsparing CEO will get the vaccine.  Godspeed!