22 Feb Who Knew? Well, There You Go!
#BestJobEver Having this platform is so much fun! Getting the opportunity to share with you all, the heart-and-soul of Strey Cellars. Giving you an inside look at a local winery, from both wine making and the tasting room. I was thinking, when I have an interest in something, be it a singer, a business, or a new hair care brand, I want to know EVERYTHING. I love the idea of having exclusive information, and I thought maybe you would, too, here’s a personal behind the scenes of how I settled into Strey Cellars Tasting Room.
My youngest child was five years old when I started working in Strey Cellars tasting room, and when we told her I was going to be working at a winery, she said, “Mama’s never gonna leave that job.” (She’s very insightful.) Prior to working at Strey I was a stay at home mom, and provided child care for numerous littles. Which can’t possibly be a surprise, if you’ve been in the tasting room the last two years, half the time I’m holding a child. In fact, if you have a child, I was probably holding yours, while pouring one handed tastings, and discussing the bright red fruits and hint of smoke on our 2014 Syrah. This is one of my favorite parts about Strey, we are not only dog friendly, but we are family friendly. I love that I can say, “Bring the family and a picnic, OR GrubHub food over and stay all day!” We want you to hang out with us. We know there are not a lot of places you feel comfortable enough to bring the kids, but Scott and Katie are a young couple, raising kiddos of their own. They understand the importance of creating a space that is inclusive. We offer markers and paper for kids to draw pictures, we have a chalk wall and play fun music.
Anyway, working at Strey truly has been a turning point in my life and despite our family friendly atmosphere, I finally have adult time. (And I’ve needed it! “Let it Go” was on constant repeat in my head.) You would not know this about me, because you probably met me while I was standing behind a counter, but I am actually an introvert. Working with Scott and Katie at Strey taught me how to talk to strangers. Granted, liquid courage may have played a part, but seriously, if you met me outside of Strey, well we might not have met. I would have been too busy pretending you don’t exist because of “Stranger Danger” and so preoccupied with the notion that I might say something weird that I would be left rehashing the awkward moment for days.
Katie taught me how to start conversations, she gave me a safe platform to practice people-ing. She showed me how wine and the winery, itself, is a fun easy subject. I have six wines in front of me, that’s six subjects! Six ways I can connect with people. In the beginning it was really scary, but I knew my script. I found that I learned so much from our customers and wine club members. So many of you are so willing to share wine experiences and even tips and tricks to flawlessly use a double hinged corkscrew (Thanks Dale!). Did you know that when Katie offered me this job, I initially said no because I didn’t think I would be very good at it? Even though it was my dream job, I was afraid our wine club members would not accept me. I know how much you all love Scott and Katie. I was worried I would not fit in, or I did not have enough wine knowledge… or even look old enough to be taken seriously behind the bar. But what did Katie do? She saw through my insecurities, did not accept “no” as an answer and pushed me out of my comfort zone. I am so grateful that she did. Strey has been a lesson in so many capacities. I have learned how to avoid politics in public (still working on that one on social media), how to be welcoming to people even if they are mean (OK once a customer made me cry, but that was really early on, and I almost quit that day… but guess what, Katie hugged me, gave me a pep talk, helped me shake off the negative vibes and now I know how to deal with people who aren’t nice.), and my self image is more secure because Katie is constantly taking and posting pictures of me for everyone to see that make me feel beautiful and confident. Oh, and when it’s busy, I have developed a magical power to remember which tasting you’re on. AND I think I’m also physically stronger than I was before because stocking the bar is quite the workout.
It’s not really recommended to become friends with your boss, but how could Katie and I not? We spend almost every weekend together, our kids love each other and it’s quite possible that we are both each other’s first call when we need a sounding board. She flows so well between business and fun. Katie has an ability to transition from “management mode” smoothly, giving people a comfortable place to openly ask questions. By breaking down wine terms into an easy to understand tutorial, you won’t feel overwhelmed with information. She is the same way with me, she teaches patiently, and has a way of simplifying the subject. Pairing this with her fun personality, our friendship was inevitable.
When Katie was pregnant with their first daughter, Ivy, she had to take a step back from the tasting room. This was a little bit scary for me, and probably her, too considering up until this point she single-handedly ran the tasting room. I certainly was not sure if the wine club members would accept me, knowing that personal connection is very important when it comes to customer loyalty. To my surprise, our wine club members have welcomed me with open arms. I’ve had members specifically ask for me to work parties and weddings so that I was able to be a part of their special event… I have also had people ask specifically for me to not work parties and weddings so that I can attend their special event. I have developed great relationships and even a best friend in our tasting room. It’s more like family visiting… in a good way… (I might even be your unofficial therapist.) I am so grateful for the last four years. Thank you to Scott for making such delicious wine. Thank you to Katie for seeing something in me that I didn’t even know was there. Thank you Husband for sacrificing weekends together so that I can go to a job that I love. Thank YOU for opening up to me and bringing me joy and friendship. I felt the need to share these very personal stories because this is what sets our tasting room experience apart. This is the heart and soul of Strey. Our phenomenal wine, and edgy decor are just as important as the relationships. You don’t come to Strey Cellars just for a tasting. You come to Strey Cellars for an experience.
Author’s Note: My name is Justine, and I have been a part of the Strey Cellars family since infancy. Responsible for various roles, my favorite has been penning their blogs. During the hiatus of the pandemic, I took a leap of faith and began blogging and writing for different niche websites. You can search them through my IG @justinethewitch. Strey Cellars is my home away from home and will surely be your new favorite Ventura County Winery. If this is your first visit to our blog, you’ll notice that I write as if we are old friends because this is the energy of our winery. Visit sometime and see for yourself! If you enjoyed this blog, please share it with a friend. Cheers!