By Ian Consoli
When sitting down with Tasting Room Lead Elizabeth Williams, there is an immediate feeling of contentedness. She has a warm personality that puts everyone around her at ease. We recognized this when she first started at Tablas Creek as she quickly grew into a full-time role and was recently promoted to lead. Lizzie's influence goes beyond the tasting room floor. She coordinates Monday tastings with local wineries, she started a Facebook group for the tasting room staff to improve our communication within the department, and she is bridging the gap between multiple departments by setting up educational outings with members of the vineyard and cellar. We are very fortunate to have her on the team.
In this interview, you will get to know Lizzie, from her time growing up in Templeton to her path to wine and more. Meet Elizabeth "Lizzie" Williams:
Who are you, and what do you do at Tablas Creek?
That's a really deep question! I'm Lizzie Williams, and I am a Tasting Room Lead. I run the check-in station, pour wine, and behind the scenes stuff. I also do most of the Virtual Tastings, which I really enjoy.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up all over the Central Coast, but mainly in Templeton. My best memories are at my grandpa's dairy farm. There was a horse farm next to us, and I remember growing up hanging out with horses, going hunting, and playing in the riverbed.
Do you still go to the dairy farm?
My dad actually sold the property in 2018. The new owners turned it into a vineyard, and they are really nice to me. They'll give me tours every once in a while and show me how everything's changed.
Can you tell us a bit about your family?
It's big! I have eight brothers, one sister, six dogs. These days, I mainly consider my family to be my husband Christian, our dogs, and our landlord, Harold, who treats us like family.
When and how did you get into wine?
I worked at restaurants, and understanding wine helped me do better in that industry, so I started applying at wineries for a part-time job to learn more. I threw a couple of darts on the board and landed at Tablas. When I started, I knew absolutely nothing about wine. Still, I enjoyed working in an environment where I learned every day while hanging out with people on vacation. I totally switched gears from restaurants to wineries and haven't looked back.
And how did you end up working at Tablas Creek?
I was about to sign papers at another winery when I checked my spam box right before going in and realized that I had missed a message from Tablas. I called the other winery and apologized, saying I had to check out this additional opportunity before making any commitments. They asked who the other winery was, and when I told them Tablas, they just said, "good for you! That's a perfect opportunity." That made me feel really confident about exploring what Tablas had to offer.
What do you enjoy most about working at Tablas Creek?
The absolute most… I'd have to say the dogs! [Laughs] I also really enjoy how passionate everybody is about learning. The crew gets along really well, and I'm still learning, so all of it is really fun.
What's your ultimate goal in the wine industry?
That's a tough one because I went in so blind that I didn't have any goals established when I started. I have found so many options that I'm open to that I just want to stick around and see where it takes me. I don't have a specific spot. I'm just enjoying the ride.
If a genie says you can work in any winery anywhere in the world, where would you pick and why?
Anywhere in the world, honestly, Creston, where I'm living now. Then I'd have a couple of other things to talk to the genie about.
What's the best bottle of wine you ever had?
I have two that are really memorable. After learning the history of Domaine de Beaucastel, I spent a good chunk on a Chateauneuf-du-Pape from 2015, and that's probably the best wine I've had. I was new in the industry, so I would like to revisit it, knowing what I know now because its complexity was a little over my head then. Secondly, the wine that really made me interested in learning about wine was Seven Oxen's Mourvèdre. That was the first wine that made me realize I wanted to know more about wine, so I'd say that was the most impactful.
If you were stuck on an island, what three things would you bring?
That's a tough one: my husband, my dogs, and tacos.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I have been venturing into a few new hobbies. I like taking old clothes from the thrift store and making them into something I like better. I have a fascination with rocks and soil science, so I have this little rock collection. I also enjoy walking on the property hanging out with the dogs. I just like simple things.
What would you like to be famous for?
I wouldn't like to be famous. That sounds like a lot of anxiety! [Laughs] I just like simple, low-key things.
Would you rather:
Cake or pie? Ice cream cake
Breathe underwater or fly? Breathe underwater.
New world wine or old world? Old world.
Winemaker or a viticulturist? A hundred percent viticulturist.
What else do people need to know about Lizzie Williams?
Just that I like learning, and I'm happy to be at Tablas Creek.