Podcast – Interview with Jamie Metzgar

In this great interview, Ute and Jamie discuss what it was like to work as a woman in the wine industry 25 years ago and how the industry has changed over the last two decades. They also share their opinions on the younger generation of wine drinkers and what the industry can do to adjust and cater to this younger crowd. You won’t want to miss this episode!

Subscribe to the podcast now, so you never miss an episode.
Have a request for a topic? Fill out this form!
And of course, find us on Instagram!

Wineries mentioned in this episode:
J. Lohr
Jean-Paul Brun
Chateau Maris

Thank you for listening! Please give us a 5 star rating if you love our show, and recommend us to your friends and family!

Listen to the episode:
Apple Podcasts
Wherever you listen to your podcasts

Full episode transcript:
Ute: Welcome to episode 11 of the Through The Grapewine Podcast. I am your host, Ute Mitchell, and I am happy and excited you’re joining me for yet another episode today. If you have been listening to a few episodes, I am sure you have formed an opinion. Maybe you even subscribe to the podcast. Thank you so much, if you did. If you did not yet, please consider subscribing. And if you’re listening on a platform that lets you rate podcasts, Ali and I would absolutely love that five stars from you.

Also, before we get going with today’s interview, please check out our show notes and sign up for the newsletter. Follow us on Instagram and if you have a thought, a question, or a topic request, you can find ways to communicate with us down in the show notes as well.

And with that, let’s get right into it. I am excited to introduce Jamie Elizabeth Metzgar, who is a freelance writer and digital editor for Wine Traveler. Jamie and I both worked for wine.com for a while, though we didn’t really have much to do with each other, but Jamie has been in the wine industry for many years, and I am thrilled to talk to her today.

Thank you Jamie, so much for being here today. Would you please tell us a little bit about yourself? Where are you from? How did you get into the wine industry and really, why did you stick with it?

Jamie: Sure. Well, thank you for having me. It’s truly a pleasure. I’m originally from Long Island in New York and I worked at a winery on the North Fork of Long Island while I was finishing up my bachelor’s at Stony Brook University.

And I just loved it. It was one of the best experiences. Everybody that comes to a winery is in a good mood and it seemed ridiculous almost that I was getting paid just to hang out and pour wine. But as you probably know, when you work at a winery very often you don’t really learn too much beyond their wine specifically unless you already have a wine background.

Ute: Yeah.

Jamie: So it didn’t even occur to me that it could be a job. And then fast forward a couple years I was living in New York City and working a job that I hated. And 9/11 hit and like many people, kind of forces you to take inventory of your life and think, “When was I happiest?” And the winery just kept coming up.

So, around the same time I had gotten very interested in cooking… the two go together. So I quit my job and I always joke that I made my parents really proud by getting a gig at a liquor store in Brooklyn. So I learned as much as I could there, and within six months I landed a position at a much higher end shop in Manhattan.

So, it was awesome. I just had some amazing people around me who encouraged me to do the W S E T and to just, you know, wine people tend to be so generous. So just with tasting groups and opportunities to learn. It was, it was amazing.

Ute: Yeah, for sure. So I see you already mentioned the WSET or W S E T. I see that you do have multiple wine certifications including Level 3 of the WSET, and for those of you listeners out there who are not super familiar with this WSET is the Wine and Spirit Education Trust. They are located in London, but it’s an internationally recognized wine certifications.

They have multiple levels going to Diploma and the Level 3 and, I’m taking this from their website, “is an advanced level qualification for professionals working in the wine industry and for wine enthusiasts. For individuals seeking to delve deeper into the world of wines this qualification provides a detailed understanding of grape growing and winemaking…” and really so much more, in all honesty. They’re saying this so nicely, but I’m like, I know what the WSET 3 is, and it’s not just that.

Jamie: Yeah, it’s a lot.

Ute: So …”upon completion you will be able to assess wines accurately and use your understanding to confidently explain wine style and quality.” So with you having that, do you think that there’s going to be more wine certifications in your future? You know, like the Diploma or…

Jamie: Oh God, no. Oh God, I’m so done.

So, I did Level 3 quite a while ago. I think I did it in 2004/2005. And it was really to be able to do exactly that, to be able to assess wines. I loved blind tasting. It was just so much fun for me. And it’s still kind of like a fun party trick, because people seem to think you’re like some sort of magician and it’s like, no, it’s really process of elimination.

So, I really loved blind tasting and I loved having that structure and the proper format for evaluating wines because once you know how to do that well, it takes personal bias out and you know, we all have wines that we will prefer over others.

Ute: Yeah.

Jamie: But it takes that out and you’re able to assess the wine for what it is, variety and terroir and everything, you know, is this…

Ute: Right.

Jamie: …a great example of where it’s from.

Ute: Right. So regardless of whether or not you love this wine, you are still able to assess it.

Jamie: Right.

Ute: Yeah. Yeah, I agree.

Jamie: Right. So, that’s really why I did that. A couple years after that, I had started the Diploma, but I was living up in Western New York, so I had to drive to Toronto for it.

And it became too academic for me. It was taking the fun out of wine, and that’s part of why I got into wine, I enjoyed it. I didn’t want it to just to become this academic study. I did the Certified Specialist of Wine, the C S W, only a couple of years ago, and that was because I had been out of wine for a little while and I felt like really needed to brush up.

Ute: Yeah.

Jamie: And I’m glad I did because the AOC laws had changed and a lot of the European wine laws had changed. So it was a good brush up on my knowledge and skills. And then I did the California Wine Appellation Specialist because I moved out to California and I realized “I know nothing about California wine, so it might be helpful if I’m trying to sell this, that I actually know the different AVAs and what’s going on out here.” So that’s why I did that.

Ute: For sure. So the CSW, this is the self-paced course, is that right?

Jamie: Yeah, well I did it through San Francisco Wine School, so it technically is, but there were weekly classes through that. And the difference is that I could register to take the exam whenever I wanted to. I think I had up to a year to take the exam.

Ute: Right. Yeah.

Jamie: Yeah. But I just did it right away. And I gotta be honest, that one is pretty brutal because it’s just a hundred multiple choice questions and it could be anything in the books, anything at all.

Ute: Right. Yeah.

Jamie: And you get one shot, so…

Ute: That’s what I hear. Yeah. Yeah, exactly. And I mean, I’m currently working on getting my WSET 3, and I have to say to that that I did my exam in August and I passed my tasting portion with flying colors, which I never expected I would.

Jamie: Congratulations.

Ute: Thank you. But I failed the short written answers. And what’s really sad about this is I missed it by like five points.

Jamie: Oh, that’s so frustrating.

Ute: So, and this was so sweet because the lady who gave me the bad news, the owner of the Portland school there, she said, “You know, if it’s any consolation, it was very close. You know, it was within like five points.” And I’m going, no, no, it’s not, because that means I needed like one more answer right to pass.

Jamie: Well, I got so lucky with my tasting portion because I said like, I took it around 2004, 2003, and, for listeners to understand what I meant by process of elimination with blind tasting. My white was a Riesling and the nose on Riesling is so distinctive. It’s impossible to miss.

Ute: Right.

Jamie: So I got that diesel note right away and I was like, “Okay, fantastic. Thank you.” And based on the year, back then, 2003 was the anomaly year throughout Europe. It was super, super hot. So I was able to taste the Riesling and figure out how the alcohol and acid levels were and from there bookmark it; was it older than 2003 or younger than 2003.

Ute: Uh huh.

Jamie: So, they gave us such an easy one. I gotta be honest, I was so lucky with that.

Ute: And I think fortunately the instructors or the schools where you take it, they do have some freedom with what they’re gonna do. There is the requirement to do this wine or and that wine, but within that you can make it relatively simple for the student to understand that this is a simple wine or not, or it’s that high acidity or not. All of those things that you need to recognize. They can make that pretty simple and I think they’re really trying to, at least our school, try to make that as easy for us as possible.

Jamie: Well, yeah, I mean, because you’re supposed to be tasting classic examples of these, and why give somebody an esoteric grape from a region nobody’s going to come across easily because they are supposed to be classic examples.

Ute: Yeah.

Jamie: And I think that’s the point of it. But yeah, I don’t know. I love wine tasting. It’s so fun.

Ute: I do too. Yeah. I feel so lucky to live in a wine region. And I was born and raised in Germany and I actually also grew up in a wine region, so I was always surrounded by wine. A lot of people are all into the beer in Germany. But I grew up in a wine region and I have no appreciation for beer. Well, I do have some appreciation for beer, but my husband actually makes fun of me for being a terrible German.

Jamie and Ute: [laughter]

Jamie: Beerless German.

Ute: Yeah, it’s true. I’m proud of it. Yeah.

Jamie: One of my favorite wine regions is there.

Ute: Oh, which wine region is your favorite?

Jamie: Well, just by happenstance, I went to Neustadt an der Weinstrasse. And, in general, I’m not a Riesling lover. I should never say that out loud because people come after me with pitchforks for saying that. But, I love Muller Thurgau and I didn’t even realize that that’s where it was based. So, we were walking through the vineyard and I saw the vines and the sign from Muller Thurgau, and I had a meltdown. I was so happy.

Ute: Oh, that’s great. I grew up in the Baden wine region. So very Southwest and just a beautiful region. I’ve talked about it on the podcast because I just can’t shut up about it. But this is not about me. This is about you, and I’m going to move right along. So when it comes to wine regions, you obviously just told me about you have been to Germany, but what wine regions both inside and outside of the US have you traveled to?

Jamie: Well, obviously in New York, I’m from Long Island, so the East End, the North Fork, the Finger Lakes, the Niagara Escarpment, Hudson Valley, so all throughout New York State and Canada. Niagara-on-the-Lake, which is just, it’s really fun and there’s some really nice wineries in that area. Obviously they excel in ice wines, but there are some other…

Ute: Yeah.

Jamie: …non sweet wines that are there, that are pretty fantastic. At this point, all of California, because I’ve bounced around a lot. In Europe, I’ve traveled through Champagne, Alsace and Loire Valley. I’ve been to Germany, as I said, Nemea in Greece, Tuscany, and Italy, and in Mexico. Just this year actually, I went along the wine route near [indistinguishable audio] which is sort of…not too far from San Miguel de Allende. And then just non-wine specific trips. I’ve traveled quite a bit, so I’ve been able to taste in Budapest and Brasov, Romania, and throughout Spain and Portugal and even a couple African wines when I was in Africa a couple years ago.

Ute: Oh my gosh.

Jamie: Ethiopia, Tanzania. So it was, it was great.

Ute: What a traveler you are. That’s so amazing.

Jamie: That’s why I got into this, I think.

Ute: That’s absolutely wonderful. Can you tell me, is there a region that stands out to you?

Jamie: Well, as I said, Neustadt was amazing. Alsace is just breathtakingly beautiful. I’d love to spend more time there.

Ute: I know, oh my gosh.

Jamie: It’s so beautiful.

Ute: So nice.

Jamie: Yeah.

Ute: These small towns too. They’re so picturesque.

Jamie: Yeah.

Ute: I spent a couple of days there with my husband this October, and I did not wanna leave. It was so, so beautiful.

Jamie: Yeah, it’s just gorgeous there. And Nemea in Greece was sort of a huge surprise because I wasn’t even really expecting to go there. I was in Athens and I met up with some people who were also into wine and just were like, “Hey, let’s take a day trip.” And, it’s just so low key and chill and beautiful, and you go to taste wine and it’s this old man who has a rope as his belt, but some of the wines are incredible there. So it was, it was one of those…I, I always find it’s the places that you really have no expectations of, that are the ones that are the most surprising.

Ute: Sure, sure. Well, and I have to ask a question, even though I know that this is difficult because most people who are really into wine don’t have like that one favorite wine, but a few, but maybe you do: a favorite wine that you would cellar. But then maybe also one, a favorite where you go, and this is my everyday go-to wine that I would just drink with dinner on a normal day.

Jamie: Many years ago I was gifted a set of 1997 Guigal Cotes Roties. And oh, they were just… I spread it out over when I drank them, but I would love to get those again. So I think the Rhone was my first wine love. The one where I was like, “Oh, this is what it’s all about.” Chateauneuf [du Pape] or a Cotes Rotie again, definitely I would love to build up a small collection of those.

Ute: Yeah.

Jamie: So my wine education in New York was really Loire Valley centric. I kind of always lean towards Cabernet Franc from the Loire Valley. So, a Chinon or a Bourgueil or a Beaujolais. Gamays from either Beaujolais or also from Loire Valley. They’re just so, especially Beaujolais, they’re so versatile and I tend not to eat much meat at all, so they just pair really well with just about anything.

Ute: I love that you say that because , I mean, in all honesty, so many people when you ask them, Beaujolais is never going to be it. And so I find that really refreshing that I’m asking someone and they’re going, “Hey Beaujolais, I really enjoy that.” It’s really great.

Jamie: It’s unfortunate. I think we tend to think of it as being Nouveau and even Nouveau it’s for a purpose. It’s supposed to be a fun party wine. You’re not supposed to overthink it, but when you get into Cru Beaujolais, a Cru can have an elegance of a mid-range Burgundy at a fraction of the cost, so I’d much rather go for a Beaujolais.

Ute: Right. Will you tell our listeners what the difference is between a regular Beaujolais and a Beaujolais Nouveau ?

Jamie: Oh, yeah. So Nouveaus are just carbonic maceration, which is a very specific and hands off process that it’s probably too much to get into right now. But basically, it’s the first wine that’s released after the harvest . So it’s, I think it’s only not even age six weeks after harvest ends. And traditionally it was meant to be like the wine of harvest parties, like signaling the end of all of the labor and for workers to have, just have fun with it. So it’s just very fruity and fun and approachable, but it’s not meant to age at all and, it’s one of the things that has become very popular for the parties, but a lot of people don’t realize that you are not supposed to age it.

The word Nouveau means new, it’s just meant to be drunk very, very young. So, not something you should cellar. Whereas a Cru Beaujolais is a Beaujolais that’s from a specific region like Bourgogne within that area. And they can age, usually, not indefinitely, but they can age for a couple years, and they’re usually more complex.

Ute: Yeah. Well, thank you so much. Appreciate it. So, I want to get back to your profession. I know you started out in 1998 and when we look at the wine industry, we obviously see more and more women taking on wine jobs and still we talk about it today, how much it is a male dominated industry. Having been in this industry for 25 years. 24, 25 years, you obviously have seen a lot of changes. Can you tell me what it was like back then working as a woman in the wine industry?

Jamie: Yeah, it’s pretty astonishing to me these days where I’ll be at an industry tasting and it’s mostly women and it just kind of blows my mind.

Yeah. When I got the job at the shop in Brooklyn. It was in Brooklyn Heights, so it was a beautiful area, but I was the first woman that had ever worked there.

Ute: Wow.

Jamie: And I don’t think it was by design. I just don’t think anyone had ever applied there.

Ute: Right.

Jamie: And customers remarked on it all the time and they loved seeing me there, which was just great because it was, it was sort of my comfortable little nest. I loved it. I had such great relationship with the customers and it was a different approach I had to recommendations, so I began to build like my own base of people who would just come to see me. Then I moved to Chamber Street Wines in Manhattan and that’s the one that I feel, I call that my wine alma mater, cuz I learned so much.

There were several other women working there, which was very unusual and I loved it. But what was interesting was some of the male shoppers could just be so condescending. They wouldn’t ask questions of me or the other women at all. They would just make a beeline for the male workers and just ignore us.

Ute: Yeah.

Jamie: Several also had no problem saying very inappropriate things to us. I remember one guy in particular told me that he only shopped there because we had the hottest staff.

Ute: Oh my God.

Jamie: Okay, cool. And it just, it would really take my breath away sometimes some of the things that people felt completely at liberty to say to us. And I guess part of it was that they assumed that if you’re a then a young woman working in wine, you must be a party girl. I don’t know. But it would just, yeah, it was pretty, pretty astonishing at the time.

Ute: And to just throw this in there, I’ve worked in a couple of different tasting rooms myself, and I’m obviously reaching an age where I’m not that interesting anymore to certain males. But I still made that experience or had that experience where if somebody came in often, relatively often, because they’re getting their free tastings as members and whatnot, that men felt compelled to put their arms around my waist…

Jamie: Yeah.

Ute: …when I stood next to the table or something like that.

And I find that I’m old enough to not feel insecure or anything like that, and I make sure that they understand that that’s inappropriate. But I know I’ve seen some of my younger coworkers who got very, very uncomfortable and really did not know how to act and how do I get out of this embrace without coming off as rude or bitchy or something like that.

Jamie: Right.

Ute: Which is really kind of too bad that we even feel like we have to make excuses for not wanting to be hugged by someone we really don’t know.

Jamie: Oh, yeah. Again, I’m 48 now, so I got no problems with this, but it is… yeah, when I was younger… what do you say to this? You know, you don’t wanna lose the sale, God forbid.

Ute: Yeah, yeah, exactly.

Jamie: You’re taught so much that you have to be nice no matter what, and it’s like, no no, I don’t. Being nice doesn’t mean not having boundaries. So yeah, it’s discouraging that it still goes on. Of course, I’m sure it does. Some things just don’t change, with human nature, despite all of the gains that we have made.

Ute: Right.

Jamie: I do find, which I find amazing and wonderful, a lot of younger women have no problem putting up the boundaries that I would’ve been way too scared to do when I was younger.

Ute: Absolutely.

Jamie: So I love it. I love seeing so many young women in the industry and just kicking all sorts of ass. Like they’re not apologizing for themselves. They’re not apologizing for taking the job away from a man, cuz I know that’s the way it’s seen very often. But they are, a lot of the women that I’ve worked with, are very determined and ambitious and it’s so impressive. And I love it. I love every second of it.

Ute: I have a daughter… So, you and I are the same age, exact same age actually.

Jamie: Yay!

Ute: So I have three kids. I have a 28 year old, a 21 year old daughter. So my two older ones are daughters. And then I have a 19 year old son and my 28 year old, I mean, she’s already married and she has children and everything.

But my 21 year old, she’s really interesting. She’s worked in hospitality, not in the wine industry, but, as a barista and working at the Cheesecake Factory. And I found it so interesting to watch her and to listen to her stories of how she would just set those boundaries, proudly and confidently.

And I’m going, “Holy smokes girl. You got it.” I mean, I don’t worry about her. I mean, I always worry about her a little bit, she’s a young woman, in San Diego of all places. But she’s strong and she’s confident, and I really, really appreciate that about her. And I’m hoping that maybe part of it is her upbringing that she had with us, but I also know that she has watched people around her and how they were acting around each other and has really formed an opinion, and is defending that very strongly.

Jamie: Yeah, I hear a lot of people our age and older, who bash Millennials and Gen Z, and I love them because …

Ute: Yes.

Jamie: I feel that they’re so much more fair-minded, so much more open. So much stronger than we were and so much like fighting the good fight. So I’m so impressed and I love every second of it.

Ute: Yeah, I totally agree with you. All right, well, next.

So over the 25 years, obviously you have seen changes. What was that like for you again as a woman walking that journey and going through the industry as you saw more and more women come into this industry?

Jamie: It’s been incredible. As very often happens, most of my friends are through the wine industry at this point. So, I have a group of female friends who are… I’m in California now, but they’re back in New York and we still text each other all day every day. And most of them are met through the wine industry. So, yeah, it’s, it’s been an incredible journey to see so many women getting into it and, just smart and dedicated and just really moving things to a more even playing field.

There has been the flip side of that. I’ve also experienced plenty of women who out snob some of the men in the industry, which I think is such a shame because, especially when we are making recommendations in any sort of like retail environment. What is the problem if somebody wants to drink in inexpensive wine? And I don’t know whether it’s just the culture attached to wine because it has historically been a luxury item that people still think that it’s this kind of elitist thing. So I have experienced women who have adopted that attitude, which I think is unfortunate.

But in general, I just think it’s great to see, and I’ve also noticed that the younger generations, because wine has become more popular in the United States, they’ve had a lot more access to wine than I did and our generation did, because for a lot of us in the States, it was not a part of our upbringing. It wasn’t something that our parents really knew about or indulged in regularly. So a lot of the younger women are coming into the industry with a much stronger base knowledge than we did, and I think it’s awesome. They’ve just had more exposure and, they’ve also traveled a lot more than we did by their age, and I just think it’s great.

Ute: Yeah. That’s actually a really great segue to get into the younger generation. This is something that I really wanna talk about too, is, anyone working in the wine industry has heard that younger wine drinkers have completely different expectations in wine. There’s like always headlines that are over exaggerating, but , “Millennials are killing the wine industry”, and I don’t know that I agree with this. I’ve been working in wineries long enough to see that Millennials, they’re drinking plenty of wine. It’s just that they don’t gravitate towards the more traditional, super fancy wines with the names and the snobbiness, you know?

Can you talk a little bit about what expectations Millennials or now even Gen Z, they’re old enough to drink now, have as opposed to our age, Gen X, and Baby Boomers when it comes to the wine industry. What their expectations are. I know that you have worked as a recommendations manager, so I’m assuming you’ve had all types of ages wanting wine and kind of gravitating towards something different.

Jamie: Yeah. So these are just really my observations. I don’t wanna say that this is an in-depth study that I’ve performed at all. In general, I think, Millennials and Gen Z seem to just be a lot more health conscious and I think that’s a good thing. Especially, it’s so funny though because my perception out in California here is so skewed because I see these younger people and I’m like, how do they all look just so healthy? They just grow up with like the best food and fresh air and sunshine. But, I think in general they’re a lot more health conscious and I don’t see that as a problem. I think that it’s unfortunate for our generation and for boomers, but we kind of looked at like these like the Rolling Stones is our idols, but like, do we really need to party like rock stars when we’re 60. So I think our, our perception of what our role models are is very different, and I think theirs are probably a lot more healthy than ours.

Ute: Right.

Jamie: They have a different view of it and I think that it’s it’s encouraging moderation. And it’s also encouraging lower alcohol products, which I think is awesome because that’s also aligned with climate change.

So I, I don’t think that the alcohol industry needs to clutch its pearls quite so much about Millennials killing the wine industry. I think instead we need to respect the direction that it’s headed in.

Ute: Yeah.

Jamie: Because it’s a pretty healthy one.

Ute: I agree. And not just that, but also they’re, they’re looking at their own health, but they’re also what I’ve found as I did research for some of my own work, that they’re kind of gravitating more towards sustainably raised wine. They’re looking for more organic products, and they’re looking for something that doesn’t cost $50 or more a bottle.

Jamie: Right. Right.

Ute: And I think the wine industry has a really great and unique opportunity to adjust to that while still producing the traditional wines. We can still produce that expensive Barolo, somebody is going to really appreciate. I don’t think they’re gonna stop buying that, especially the more they get into wine. But I really hope that the wine industry is going to also have more younger winemakers. I mean, they will eventually, obviously, but that these younger winemakers will then also cater to that younger crowd to continue on with this really nice long tradition of drinking wine.

Jamie: Yeah, and to your point, if the Millennial tastes are moving away from cult wines that are frightfully expensive, that are really just about the prestige of owning them, and those are devalued because honestly, what value is there? I think that’s a good thing. I don’t see a problem with that because I mean, I can get on my political views here, but we don’t need that but I don’t see that as actually a problem. I think that that’s probably healthy for the wine industry to understand.

Ute: I agree. I definitely agree. So what do you do now? I think you are a writer editor for Wine Traveler.

Jamie: Yeah. So I actually started working with Wine Traveler in 2019 just doing writing for their site. But since I left wine.com earlier this year, I’ve been working with Wine Traveler more fully. And then I also just do some email marketing for Los Olivos Wine Merchant & Cafe. I used to be one of their somms, so they asked me if I wanted to take that on, and it’s wonderful because I know them well and I know the voice there. So, with Wine Traveler, I’ve been developing content hubs because we have so much content on the site, but it’s kind of been a little scattered.

So I’ve been developing hubs to then link out to more specific articles, and just really improving SEO, through different articles that we have on the site. And then contributing more content as needed. Like I’m working on a piece about Mexican wine country and traveling right now. That’s what I’ve been doing these days, which is a nice change. Much needed change.

Ute: Yes. I, I feel that, I can appreciate that . So, what does one do…Is Wine Traveler, are they looking for new writers these days too? And if so, what does one do to write for Wine Traveler?

Jamie: I am more than happy to read samples of work and pass them along to the CEO. I’m not sure how much more we’re soliciting right now, simply because we’re trying to more optimize all of the information that we have. When Wine Traveler started, it was more the way a lot of sites like this start. It was more of a blog. Not really a blog, but it was sort of more about individual writers’ experiences. So I’ve been working on updating those so that they’re evergreen and taking the first person out of it.

Cuz that’s… I don’t know how much people really wanna read about one person’s experience versus what the experience is generally like. So that’s what they’ve been working on.

Ute: Yeah.

Jamie: But as we pinpoint holes in our content and there are plenty, we will definitely need more content. So if people want to send along samples of their writing, I’m more than happy to look at it.

Ute: Awesome. All right.

Jamie: And it’s just jamie@winetraveler.com.

Ute: There you go. I’m gonna put that into the show notes as well, of course. So that anybody who is interested in getting in touch can just copy and paste that email.

So I do have one last question for you, and that is you were a recommendations manager for wine.com. What does that mean?

Jamie: That’s a good question. It means every bit of overseeing the recommendations team, which when I came on was only about 15 people, and when I stepped away it was over a hundred. It grew exponentially. So, the job turned into just hiring, scheduling, training all of those people because that was a lot of people. But when I started, because the team was so much smaller, I would hop into chat as well. So the recommendations team provides recommendations, hence the name, to customers shopping the site via online chat. So when you go to the site, a little chat window pops up and when the customer engages, that’s assigned to a real person. They’re not bots, which always seem to surprise customers.

So when I first came on, I would hop into chat too cuz it was fun and people would ask you what’s the best… I don’t know…Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand for under $30. So then you go to the site and you paste in the links to the chat box for the customers and send them on their merry way. But yeah, there’s wine.com has a massive inventory, so there’s always a lot to learn.

Ute: Yep. I was on the content team, so I know about the inventory.

Jamie: Yeah. Lots and lots of inventory.

Ute: Then my follow up question for that is going to be, can you recommend a couple of wines. Below $20, below $30, and maybe even below $50.

Jamie: Sure. So I thought about this and what I like to do is I always like to keep a roster of producers who are consistent across varietals because those are the ones that I don’t have to worry about recommending something that’s vintage specific. But they’re always gonna be good. And…

Ute: Yeah.

Jamie: …J. Lohr, to me is one California producer that is exactly that. Across the boards from their chardonnay to their cab, and they even have Valdiguie outta California, and I think it only retails for like $12. And it’s just fun and fruity and it’s a really nice wine, especially for the price. So I, I love J. Lohr. If I don’t know somebody’s specific tastes, I just go for J. Lohr if I’m gonna recommend a wine for them, because I know that they’re gonna be good.

Bumping up a little bit to like the $15 to $20 range: Jean Paul Brun out of Beaujolais.

Ute: Mm-hmm.

Jamie: Fantastic producer. His Nouveau is great, but he also produces a Chardonnay that’s beautiful and it’s usually about $15. And his Cru Beaujolais are wonderful as well. If you want heftier reds, Chateau Maris out of Languedoc-Roussillon is a fantastic producer and I don’t think any of the wines retail over $30, but they drink like they cost much more.

And then for sparkling wines, Gramona is a cava producer that the cavas could stand up to any champagne and they’re far more affordable. So those would definitely be my picks cuz they’re all… all those producers are consistently awesome.

Ute: Right. That’s wonderful actually. And I am gonna put those down into the show notes as well so that people can have that in writing and check it out. If, as a final thing, you had a message to women in the wine industry, and I know this is a very broad question, so , I’m prepared to edit it out if it’s too much, but if you had like one message that you want to send women who are in the wine industry or who want to break into the wine industry, what would that be?

Jamie: Don’t feel the need to be polite at the expense of crossing boundaries.

Ute: I love that.

Jamie: Yeah, I think that in it, I think it’s women in any industry, but I think a lot of us learn that late, and by establishing it early, you’re also asserting your own power and strength. And that’s where, where your success comes from.

Ute: That sounds absolutely amazing. Thank you so much, Jamie.

Jamie: Thank you.

Ute: I really appreciate it. This was a great interview for me. I’m excited to upload that and post it, and I do hope to stay in touch with you because…

Jamie: Yeah, thank you so much.

Ute: All right. Well, I hope you have a wonderful day. Listeners, thank you so much for being here again.

Again, look down into the show notes. All of the important information will be there, and if there’s a writer among you who really would like to send some information, that email address will be down in the show notes as well. So have a wonderful day and see you next episode. Prost!

Leave a Reply