After my graduation from Master in Science in Enology and Viticulture, I have been discovering different wine regions of the world, by actually working there. My first stop was France, Haut-Medoc. My second stop was Chile, Colchagua Valley. And finally, my third and current stop is USA, Napa Valley. Of course, the wines and the winemaking methods in these countries are very different from each other. Although you can find the same grape varieties, you will still feel their terroir in your glass. Although you use the same method, you will obtain different results. But apart from these, since I actually had the chance to work and observe more, in this article I would like to share some of the points that took my attention in these countries; the differences of the working habits in the wineries.
The first difference that took my attention was about how they were starting a typical working day in the wineries.
In France, the days in the winery were starting with a meeting of all the employees, in front of the winery, ten minutes before the actual starting hour. As the employees were arriving, they were forming a circle and everybody, including workers and chiefs, were kissing each other or shaking hands. The men would only shake hands in between them, but kiss the women on their two cheeks. The women would kiss both the women and men. The chiefs were generally only shaking hands with everyone. After this morning ceremony, they were talking for five minutes about the important news of the region, the country or the world, before starting to work.
In Chile, the days were starting with a meeting of all the employees, but the chiefs were arriving couple of minutes later than the workers. The workers were kissing each other in between them, before forming a circle. Instead of two, they were giving only one kiss on the right cheek. After the arrival of the chiefs, everybody was doing morning sport together during five minutes to stretch the body and get ready physically for the hard working day.
In the United States, the days in the winery are starting with saying good morning; there is not a daily morning union of the employees. Everybody is arriving when they are supposed to arrive and they are saying good morning to the people at the moment they meet, without any physical contact. Even when you meet people for the first time in the winery, you just shake hands, kissing is not a part of the working environment. Although there is not a daily union, there is monthly casual meeting of all the employees.
To give my personal opinion, I think the way that you start working, somehow affects your productivity during the day, especially in the harvest time, which is the busiest and the most important part of the year. Personally, I like gathering and sharing couple of minutes together to welcome the new day with the people that I am working with, because otherwise, when the things get really busy, you can miss the connection. Kissing is also a way to protect the links, although it becomes kind of difficult when you have to kiss a lot of people consequently every morning. Finally, the part that I liked and enjoyed the most was the sports time. I think it is a very good way to connect and it really keeps you healthy, although it is just for a short time.
I believe that, regardless of the country and the winery, the most important thing is to work in harmony and to know the importance of the team spirit. During these experiences in different countries, I also saw some differences in the working hierarchy and in the synergy of the team work, but these are the things that might change according to many other factors, like human factor, size of the company, owner of the company, amount of the salaries, the traditions and habits coming from the past etc. So, I am not going to mention them, since they are not reflecting truly the differences among the countries.
The second point that took my attention was the food. Especially at the harvest time, for the breaks the wineries would provide some food to the employees, some kind of snacks. As far as you can imagine, there was a really big difference among the food in these three countries.
In France, in the harvest mornings they were providing us breakfast. And as you can imagine, it was croissant or pain au chocolat. In Chile, they were giving us empanadas con pino (which has small pieces of meat, onion, olives, raisins and boiled egg inside) in the afternoons. Finally in USA, I have got donuts! So, it is very nice to see how the traditional eating habits continue in the working place.
I mentioned two aspects that took my attention in the working habits in the wineries. I believe that these kinds of experiences in different countries, as well as helping the winemakers to learn and discover diverse winemaking techniques, help also to be more flexible and adaptable to different situations. Actually, these details that took my attention might seem quite normal to local people, but for me, as a foreigner, to experience these differences was really unique. Different places, different habits, different flavors!