This I Believe

Brianne - San Luis Obispo, California
Entered on February 9, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30

I believe in not judging a book by its cover. All too often, people jump to conclusions on not only what lay beneath covers of books but also in their judgments of people based on appearances and stereotypes. As a young female entering the wine industry, I have experienced many times, instances where people have doubted my knowledge in wine. As a previously male dominated industry, some people still assumed that a small young female cannot possibly posses the knowledge that many industry veterans, wine collections or expert sommeliers posses. My hope is to prove them wrong. By age 22 I have completed two winemaking internships, worked in both restaurants and tasting rooms and have studies winemaking courses both in the US and in Australia. Yet, often my experience and education remain buried in the fact that I am five foot two with a face of a young teenager.

Despite having a solid wine background, working in the wine and restaurant industry still manages to present its challenges. I remember a few times I had customers ask if they could speak to someone who was old enough to know about the wine list. In reply, I shyly informed them that I was completely capable in answering any questions they had regarding the wines. In once instance, I was opening a bottle of wine for a table and noticed that the cork began to crumble (in this case, a sign of oxidation). I slowed down to prevent the cork from falling into the wine but at that instance, one man at the table, grabbed the bottle exclaiming that he was going to ‘show me the correct way to open a wine bottle. He ended up pushing the cork through the bottle and into the wine so hard, that he even chipped the glass rim of the bottle. His wife stared at him from across the table and said “maybe you should have let our server do her job.” Perhaps, if his rapid judgments of my abilities had not gotten the best of him, he may have spared both of our embarrassment.

Searching for jobs has also been frustrating. I have worked hard to be knowledgeable in my field but unless someone gives me the opportunity to prove my worth as an employee, I feel that my potential often goes unnoticed. Being confident and assertive has its limits and many times, I’m left to battle the subjective opinions of those who tend to form rapid first impressions. Yet, if I didn’t love this industry I would not be in it and that alone has helped me laugh at those who doubt a little too quickly and has made me want to fight a little harder to be noticed. If only people would stop, have a little longer conversation or at least read the first chapter you might say, they could be surprised to find a better story than they might otherwise have suspected