Wine,Wine Appreciation,Wine Culture,Wine Education,Wine Etiquette

Wine industry comments support the issue of common courtesy for the Napa Wine Train incident

Yesterday’s story about the Napa Wine Train sparked some very interesting comments on that post.

Wine industry comments support the issue

Great thread, Jo! Should be a “must read” for all “wine professionals”, whether in Napa or not! Interestingly, this incident just appeared in our Oregonian newspaper today, but as you can guess, it, too, spoke only to the ‘injustice’ issue — too bad!! Thanks for your always broader perspective ~

— Jo, so true that wineries just don’t want to wade into this one. Like Tom wrote today- “No Comment.” Please keep writing about all the wine industry nuances:

  • -People getting cut off or asked to leave is a relatively common occurrence in tasting rooms, restaurants, bars and similar establishments. Those of us who work in these industries deal with these kinds of situations all the time.
  • -Staff training is crucial- ABC/TIPS as well as cultural sensitivity. Did you know that in certain cultures it’s considered offensive to show someone the bottom of your foot?
  • -Skilled professionals should know how to diffuse a situation without escalating it…unless absolutely necessary. And management should train people to know where those limits are.
  • -Businesses who accept large groups should be able to handle them (i.e. why so many wineries don’t accept buses or limos- they don’t have the room and/or don’t want the liability).
  • -And last but not least, customers need to be sensitive to the experience of others around them. Whether on the Wine Train or in a tasting room you’re “in this together.”

Hospitality, like most everything in life, is a two way street.

— Good one, Jo. We get many groups of young women from bridal parties, and mixed groups traveling together. This happens.

— Excellent post, Jo. I would only add that there is another dimension to this situation. In today’s racially charged atmosphere, and due to all the abuses, African Americans have embraced a culture of victimhood and entitlement. Resentment of whites is simmering just below the surface and an incident like this quickly brings it the forefront. Not sure how we can lessen this antagonism and hypersensitivity. Mixed race book clubs 😉 ?

— There is a huge difference between the Wine Train and a tasting room. And to emphasize the point when the train stops at Grgich they don’t take them into the tasting room, they have a separate space as to not bother the people that are there to learn about wine (and hopefully buy some.) If you take reservations for large groups, be it in a restaurant or on a train, you are going to get parties, some of which may be noisier than others. If you allow limos to stop at your winery you better have a place for them.

— Jo, Very well put and the media etc not knowing the reality of people out of control has made this purely racial, how unfortunate, actually awful. When I interviewed for working in a tasting room, the question they asked me a few times was – how would I handle someone whose had too much too drink – a difficult but necessary condition when it comes to alcoholic beverage consumption. I assume the people on the train were trained to deal with this in as courteous manner as possible.

— Well written Jo Diaz. I had read several accounts of this incident and thought that something was definitely missing in the coverage. Thank you for providing additional food for thought.

— Not unlike what I have to deal with at our music concerts – load people talking while others just want to enjoy the music…

— Interesting read, Jo! Also interesting is how FB “relates” the Wine Train post to the French Bullet Train incident. Gotaa love them stupid algorithms.

— Well done! Agree with your point about limiting group size (specifically on the train) in public areas to 6. Private cars would be necessary for larger groups to keep the peace.

— Thank you, Jo. As usual, very well said.

— Jo nails it. There are few things worse than being next to a rowdy party gang when you are there for a different experience. I once reported a rowdy, alcoholic group at a Giants game. They were impossible to sit next to. The Giants moved me! To much better seats, too.

— Yep, yep yep…spot on. Been in the wine industry a long time and teach hospitality/wine courses at the college. You nailed it, Jo.

— The comments following the original articles remind me of how selective Americans are in their reasoning: calling it a “bar” instead of a “dining car”; calling it “racist” instead of “crowd control”; calling it “talking loudly” instead of “annoying other customers.”  I think of it as “the all-you-can-eat buffet version” of the Bill of Rights — don’t like how specific freedoms and liberties affect your beliefs? … then cherry pick the ones you support and renounce the rest.

— Go, Jo, Go! I will ask anyone who is disruptive to leave my tasting room, because we are there to create an experience for EVERYONE (and sell wine), not just particular groups. I don’t care what color you are, if You are wearing Prada, if you are related to the owner – OUT!!! Grrr.

— Rowdy can be fun. Rowdy can be boisterous. Rowdy can be annoying if you were seeking to enjoy the scenery and have a nice train ride. The ladies could have been purple or pink or black or white. When asked to dial it down, they did not. Sometimes scenes fueled with alcohol just get rowdy.

— So true, Jo. We’ve all been in the “rowdy and boisterous” situation…and I too don’t think this had anything to do with race.

One person in importing wrote, so hospitality is not his specialty, which is important to state:

The purpose of tasting rooms, bars, restaurants, and yes the wine train is to sell people wine. Too much wine, make people drunk. Drunk people can behave badly. Maybe, just maybe the wine train personnel sold these women too much wine. But isn’t that their job? The wine train has always projected a somewhat holier than thou image of “fiine dinging” , etc. To complain that the women passengers are crying foul unfairly, is absurd. This wasn’t the Tea Train or the Seltzer Train. Even the hushed dining room at the French Laundry has gotten rolicky and loud from too much over priced wine. I think the wine country hospitality needs to take a long hard look at itself, its goals, its treatment of others. Its customers

I had to respond:

Tom, have you ever worked in a tasting room or at a wine event? Just wondering. It’s there that you really see consumer behavior…

Manners are taught at home, then hospitality is more about serving people in a welcoming atmosphere, not controlling people who allow themselves to lose control. As Joan Rivers was so famous for saying… “Oh, grow up!” That’s what each of us are responsible for in life… Maturity. An industry not in the maturity business can’t teach that one. It begins at home.

I’m not alone in understanding this, especially by those who are in or have been in hospitality. There could be classes taught in courtesy, but it really does start at home. When I was a kid, my mother sent me to charm school for a reason. I was her unruly one… If one is going to a winery (or the wine train, for instance), it’s much more intimate than a bar. It’s one-on-one education for many of the best places… And by best, I’m talking about ones that hire people who are thrilled to share their passion and understanding about wine and its culture.

UPDATE: A very interesting read, on September 04, 2015 7:00 p.m., by 

Telling it like it is: “It’s a national story. Last month, a group of 11 women (10 of whom are black) were escorted off the Napa Valley Wine Train, allegedly for loud and obnoxious behavior that elicited complaints from other passengers. The women were members of a book club who were simply having a good time.

“Been there. Done that!”

3 Responses to “Wine industry comments support the issue of common courtesy for the Napa Wine Train incident”

  1. Judy says:

    Please do not make the mistake of thinking that the prevalence of positive comments to your original post mean that everyone who read it agree with you. Some of us thought that your understanding of the perceived or actual racial tones of the incident is severely lacking, and that you make the mistake of thinking that just stating your position is somehow equal to building an actual argument. In other words, you saying over and over again that it wasn’t racial does not just make it so. Also, you quote the one person who bothered to comment and disagree with you and you state that it’s important to note that he’s not in hospitality, despite the fact that he told you in a later comment that he has worked in wine hospitality. Also, you don’t get to be the arbiter of all things race simply based on your own cited mixed ethnicity. I think your article lacked any deep discussion or attempt to understand all sides of the incident and instead was just a tool for you to complain about tourists standing on the Napa sign (a group which I assume does not include an 83 year old book club member). You get to have your opinion, but you’re going a little too far when you cherry pick some pretty superficial comments and post them as affirmation that you are stating facts.
    And yes, I worked many years in hospitality.

  2. Jo Diaz says:

    Thanks for your comments, Judy. I can understand your position, because this is a very emotional issue.

    I’ve had my life threatened, because of my life circumstance, with the FBI called in. When I see it as racial, and I do often enough in my own life, I recognize it. When it’s about my misbehaving, I see it as that, too. It only takes someone telling me once that I’m out of order to do something about it. How about for you?

    Neither of us was there, but I also just had to eject a person from a private party that I had put on, because she didn’t have the courtesy to leave…

    The party was over at 4:00 p.m. I suggested at 6:30 p.m. that it was over. I suggested at 7:30 p.m. that it was over. I suggested at 8:30 p.m. that it was over – and everyone invited was long gone. Finally, at 9:00 p.m., I said, “It’s time for us to leave, and that means you, too, NAME.” (I have witnesses, which would be the land owners.) She wasn’t happy, but finally left. Sometimes, when people are told three times to change a behavior, they just don’t get it and get wrapped up in their own little worlds.

    Furthermore, there were people of color at my event. It happened to be someone Anglo that was told to leave after being asked three times.

    And the person who first objected in my comments? As it turned out, he was in wine business business hospitality over 40 years ago. I’ve been in it for nearly a quarter of a century. When I started, I didn’t even have a computer. Trust me, a lot has changed in the last 25 years as I’ve witnessed it, and so have others with computers, just for instance. Today’s wine world has a lot of newbies and their climbing all over the Napa signs is an indication of the immaturity that will now be evolving.

    Those of us in wine hospitably (was your specialty working in wine country?) know it when we see it. “Please keep it down, others are objecting.” Obviously someone missed the message — three times. Not once, like my person above. Not twice, like my person above. And, not three times, like my person above. How do you explain that one? It’s not about race when it comes to manners. I know a ton of people of color and they’ve got manners. It’s just common courtesy, like common sense. If someone on your campus is not conforming to the culture at your university:
    1) is it just ignored?
    2) does it first have to measure up to some litmus test of rules for color consideration?
    3) is it dealt with?

    I’m very clear there are racial issues every day in the media, and I know full well that they exist. There are four generations of color in my family that I love dearly and nurture. We all simmer down when told to… How about your family? Do you buck the system or do you conform, for the comfort and safety of all as a consideration?

  3. Jo Diaz says:

    For the record, Judy, and I do wish that you had used your last name, for full disclosure as I do with my blog:

    Here’s an endorsement that might have you understand me a bit better, as regards minority sensitivity… Anyone in the wine business could have seen this and done something about it. I chose to be that leader in 2002. From my colleague Tom Wark:

    Tom Wark ~ Profiling the Wine Blog Award Judges #3: THE MARKETERS (6/25/2012)

    Jo Diaz is one of the wine industry’s most respected publicists. She began her career in the wine industry in 1992 working with some of the industry’s largest and most progressive wineries. She opened Diaz Communications in 2001 and has since become a go-to publicists for numerous wineries, associations and wine industry services. Jo is also the founder of the Association of African American Vintners and PS I Love You (Petite Sirah advocacy). Finally, she pens one of the most important business-related wine blogs.

    Just for the record ~ More reading material:

    I’m going to stop, with my point being that I’ve done a lot to change the face of the wine industry. I just call things as I see them, because I’m behind a lot of curtains. I trust that you, too, Judy, have given as much effort to the cause.

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