The Man Behind the Forklift: Q&A With Assistant Tasting Room Manager Charlie Chester
April 03, 2018
By Suphada Rom
Always on the go with a task list that extends beyond the length of your forearm, Charlie Chester has a diverse role here at Tablas Creek. From curating a collector's tasting for enthusiastic guests to transferring pallets of wine to keep the tasting room stocked, Charlie does it all- while also juggling the his son Brandon, now age two.
How did you learn about Tablas Creek?
I was a wine club member before I was an employee. I visited the winery in 2011, right after the new tasting room was finished. I was on my way back from an extended ski season up north in Truckee and I wanted to pick up my wine club shipment. I was enjoying the new tasting room, newly released wines while chatting with John (Tasting Room Manager). I mentioned I was interested in working for Tablas Creek and he invited me back for an interview. The rest, as they say, is history!
Why did you choose to join the Wine Club at Tablas Creek?
Before I worked for Tablas Creek I was working in the limousine industry, chauffeuring people around Paso Robles, I got to see it all. I really enjoyed visiting the different tasting rooms, observing like a fly on the wall. After visiting a winery more than once, I could gauge for consistency both in quality of wine and customer service. Tablas Creek stood out as having unique, consistently high quality wines plus their staff was always super friendly. The tasting room staff would go out of their way to show you something special and share their passion for the wines and the story.
What do you think is special about Tablas Creek?
I like being part of something that is on the cutting edge of Rhone wines in California. I remember the first time I had Counoise on it's own, bottled varietally, and I thought that was really great. To be able to share these unique wines that are normally only found in blends one of my favorite things we do here. Last year we introduced Terret Noir and Clairette Blanche to the U.S and Paso Robles... how great is that?!
Your title here is Assistant Tasting Room Manager and Logistics- what does a typical day look like for you?
I help things runs smoothly both in the tasting room and in our wine inventory. During the busy season we can have multiple tour groups, tastings, private tastings, group tastings- I help to make sure everyone has a good experience and all positions are staffed appropriately. We have a jigsaw puzzle-ish library storage area that I am constantly moving and shuffling wine around in. I also like driving the forklift around!
What is your most memorable experience here at Tablas?
Oh man, last summer we had some fun with the sheep! That was crazy. We were finally heading home after a busy day in the tasting room when I noticed our herd of sheep on the road! We had to get them back on the property so my first instinct was to try to corral them back in and out of the road, so I grabbed a bucket of sweet feed (a mix of grain and molasses the animals go crazy for!). That usually works to lure them in. While I drove the gator, a few other tasting room team members were doing their best herd them. It took us about 2 hours to finally get the sheep in their pen.
When it comes to running the tasting room, what is your work philosophy?
I want to make sure everyone is happy and taken care of. In the tasting room there's always something exciting to share with new guests, from someone who, say, knows the tasting room as it stands today, to someone who first tasted with Bob [Haas, our founder] "off of two barrels and a plank in the cellar".
What's your favorite thing about your job here?
I enjoy the diversity of things that I get to do in the winery and on the property from taking care of the animals to driving forklifts and moving wine....All of it's awesome!
When you're not working, what are you doing?
Spending time with my son, Brandon. He's two. Hanging out with friends, grabbing a beer and tacos, going to the beach. Go wine tasting!
Finally, how do you define success?
Happiness!! Work isn't as meaningful if you don't believe in what you're doing and if you're not happy doing it.