Exploring VA Wines, Wining & Dining

Training Day

By Doug Fabbioli

Life got turned upside down for all of us about two and a half years ago, and we continue to work our way back to some sort of normalcy. One of the largest and most visible industries still affected by the pandemic is our food service industry. I include our tasting room operations under this tent, as we have the same challenges as everyone else in finding people who can and want to work serving others. We will get through this staffing challenge eventually, just like we get through our other challenges, but this one is pretty widespread and will take lots of training to get through.

I guess training is a part of mentoring, if you stop and think about it. We need to find the folks and convince them that this work experience will fit them now and help them in their future life. We need to teach them to put themselves in their customers’ shoes for a moment. They also need to understand the business and get a feel for my shoes as a business owner in order for us all to be successful. They need to learn how to become a part of the team, pulling together with their co-workers to provide an experience for the guest that is welcoming and comfortable, and at the same time productive for the business.

When I am out and about, I recognize more training going on than ever before. Many people new to their position find their learning hat and wear it proudly, and their trainer takes the time to show them what they need to know to be successful. Everyone has had to go through this job training part, and if we are successful, we keep learning and looking for more ways to do better. We may get some training on the computer or by watching videos, but the human contact, with real customers, is an irreplaceable part of the process in the service industry.


Sometimes as guests or customers we find ourselves playing a part in the training process. Please embrace these opportunities to help a new staff member have a good learning experience. Patience is key! I keep myself on a pretty tight schedule but when these moments of training occur, where a new worker needs a little more time for my transaction, I slow down to allow them the time to learn. In the same vein, if you need to correct your server, please be polite and kind so they will remember that moment of learning with a smile instead of embarrassment or anger.

I also like to acknowledge the trainer in learning situations when I can. Training is not an easy job, but it sure is important to someone learning a new skill. It is almost always easier to do the work yourself than to train others, but then you are stuck doing all the work! Make the time as a trainer to communicate along the way. You have the ability to build your coworkers and your workplace in a way that is fun and productive.


Ok, what does this have to do with wine? Wine is a team sport, my friends, and it always has been. From planting, growing, and picking in the field, through crushing, aging, and bottling in the cellar, to presenting, selling, and sharing that bottle, it takes a big team and a lot of teamwork to make it happen. I am in my 42nd year in this industry and I continue to be excited about bringing new folks into our industry. It is hard work, but it is rewarding in so many different ways. Our seasoned folks are training new staff like we always do; we just need to do more of it these days. A big thank you to my team, past, present, and future, as our wines do not happen without the people that make it all work. A bigger thank you to those who take the time to train! We need to continue that each day so we don’t lose the art of service.

Enjoy the product of our well-trained efforts!

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