By John Morris
I recently ran across this photo of our tasting room staff from an outing in December of 2007. The thing that strikes me most about this shot is the size of our group. Our entire tasting room staff at the time consisted of 8 people. Now, 3 and a half years later, we’re 16 strong. Pictured from left to right are David, Phil, myself, Zach, Sylvia, Brian and Gustavo. Absent due to a school-related commitment is Chelsea, then a member of our tasting room staff, now our assistant winemaker. Since that time three of us have gotten married, one has become a father, another a step-father, and two have moved to the east coast. Tellingly, five of the eight are still employed at Tablas Creek, six if you count the occasional guest appearance by Zach.
David, on the far left, was my first hire, and is perhaps our most energetic, even as he is our oldest. Everyone else pictured predates me. Phil recently moved to the Boston area to help with his grandchildren after a lifetime in California. He exuded an oasis of calm in the tasting room for over five years. Zach completed training at the fire academy last year as he juggled shifts here, and became a father a few weeks ago. Sylvia has been our assistant tasting room manager since before I moved to Paso, if that says anything. Brian joined the Peace Corps and was posted in Morocco after a year-long stint here, and now resides in Washington D.C. Gustavo (originally from Chile, but commonly mistaken as Frenchman) came aboard just before me, and has been a rock for the last four years. He spent two months interning in the cellar at Chateau de Beaucastel last fall, and returned even more knowledgeable than before. Much of the rest of our staff, including Steve, Cindy, Tedde and Mary have been here going on three years. Deanna worked here some years ago and returned last year. Recent additions are Alex, Lisa, Joelle, Charlie, Teri and our dynamic new assistant manager, Jennifer. Austin, our winemaker’s son, now helps out on Saturdays.
A lot has been made of our splendid new tasting room, with good reason. It’s much roomier, beautiful to look at, quieter, supremely functional, and has been a dream to work in. The cellar crew loves it because we aren’t setting up tables in their space every weekend. We love it because we aren’t setting up tables in their space every weekend! If you haven’t been in, you owe it to yourself to check it out.
But in even in this striking new space, it still comes back to people. Behind the gorgeous new bars, reflected in the huge glass windows that allow a glimpse into the cellar, you’ll see most of the same faces you’ve come to know, doing our best to provide welcoming, personal service with an educational twist, pouring wines we never forget we are blessed to work with. Here’s to my crew.