Interviews with Wine Insiders

Our first interview is with Jeff Sadler, CEO of The Big Picture Virginia.

This is a “wine adventure” store that is set to open within the next year. Check out his website for additional information.

Please give a background of what your business intends to do and how it relates to the wine industry.

We will be educating our customers using a state of the art interactive wine experience. We will be showcasing Virginia’s wines through a virtual tour of the wineries and a tasting with the owner or vintner.

What made you decide to get into the wine industry?

My brother became a wine enthusiast and infected everyone around him. The industry is very family oriented and that appealed to my wife and me.

Why do you see potential in the Virginia wine industry?

The people involved and the timing are superb. The terroir of Virginia and the richness of our culture and history make this a great place for wine.

Although your business has not yet started, what advice and tips do you have for those starting the initial phases in opening a “wine adventure” store?

Wait for us to do the hard work, planning and take the initial risk, then open a franchise. We have global partners in the wine industry as well as the theme park/amusement industry. It would be hard to pull this together properly without this support.

For those that would be interested in working for a store such as yours, what types of education and previous work experience are you looking for?

The main thing is to have a real excitement and passion for educating people about wine. Hands on experience in the wine industry (ie. tasting room, winery, wine store, etc.) is very helpful.

How important do you believe a vast knowledge of wine is for your industry?

It depends on the position. A management position obviously would require some industry experience but the eagerness to learn and the ability to learn quickly is of equal importance.

Last but certainly not least, what is your favorite type of wine and why?

I’m not one to go on record with favorites. The context of the consumption weighs heavily on my preference and therefore my favorite changes rather frequently. I will tell you that there are some world class blends coming from northern VA and they are taking up several rows in our wine cabinet. We also have been enjoying a New Zealand pinot that is unavailable here in the states but my wife’s company is working to change that.

Our next interview is with Cynthia, a representative from Total Wine, a wine retail shop with locations in Virginia, North and South Carolina, and a few other states.

What is your position at Total Wine, and how did you get it?

My first wine industry job was as a front cashier and I have since been promoted to a wine associate. A wine associate helps the customers find wines and make decisions on which to purchase. I have been here for 3 years and knew absolutely nothing about wine when I first started.

How would you categorize your wine knowledge now?

I am still learning but I know so much more! I recently took a wine training class in Richmond, VA, which helped tremendously.

What qualities do you think are most important for a wine associate?

The biggest skill is customer service. You must have a passion for customer service and not be afraid to talk to the customers. It also helps to have a moderate wine knowledge and an interest in wine.

What is your favorite wine?

My favorite right now is a sparkling rose wine from Spain: Marques de Monistrol.


John Fellman Interview – Horticulture Advisor for WSU >>>
Sign up for our newsletter!