Cellar Rat Style Guide: One Gal’s Guide to Winery Work Attire.

The bubbly blog has had a bit of a break over the last few months, and I heartily apologize. I’d offer you bubbles, but that would be hard to coordinate over the internet. There are no excuses BUT I’ll give them anyway.

I honestly haven’t had time to even see straight, as I spent my first, full-time Harvest as the “Cellar Rat” at GlenLyon Winery. Yes, this is an actual title for a person who does all the grunt work in the winery that nobody else wants to do. And can we start by changing this whole Rat thing to “Cellar Mouse”? It’s slightly more appealing inducing when I introduce myself. (And I despise rats.) As the first female “Cellar Mouse” on the GlenLyon property, I quickly became a “Cellar Guinea Pig” as I had to figure out how to dress myself properly for work.

Having worked a few days of Harvest here and there in the past, I knew I’d be sticky and I knew I’d end up with wine stains on my clothes. I figured what I’d worn in previous years of half-days would suffice. But then, I’d only ever showed up, picked out MOG (Material Other than Grapes), and then slyly scooted out to go wine tasting, leaving the massive clean up to the Cellar Rat. Bye!

Well, this year…that Cellar Rat/Mouse/Guinea Pig was me. I learned the hard way that I was to spend most of my days completely soaked through to the bone, covered in grape juice, but mostly covered in water. It is highly important in a winery to super sanitize everything thoroughly, and then thoroughly again after use. I’ve cleaned massive hoses, scrubbed the inside of tanks twice my size, and power-washed flex tanks. I’ve scoured the floors with a high pressure, Zamboni-like surface cleaner, blasted mold out of hiding, and thrown buckets of water onto an enormous press (throwing my back out in the process). I’ve shot myself in the face with water, my Boss in the face with water, and then my Boss in the crotch with water (and by “Boss” I mean my Dad). Sorry Dad…I mean, Boss. (In my defense, the hose has a complicated looking nozzle.) After shooting your Boss/Dad multiple times, you learn (quickly) how NOT to hold the trigger-happy handle FOR FEAR OF YOUR LIFE.

About a week into this new job, I realized I needed a new winery “wardrobe”. And because there was no “ladies guide” advising me on the correct winery work attire, I had to figure it out the hard (and wet) way how to dress. I will readily admit, I like to look slightly presentable at work in case a tour shows up, hence the functional, yet not-wholly-unappealing must-haves below. I hope this guide can be useful to any other ladies out there in the business of wine.

WHAT TO WEAR TO WORK IN A WINERY:

  1. The number one most essential item to acquire is a pair of non-slip, every-day work boots. I found a steel-toe option from Caterpillar that are 100% waterproof, very durable, and actually kind of cute! And unbelievably light despite the steel-toe situation. They come in grey and purple (I opted for grey in fear of being mocked by the Boss). The first day of work, I showed up in my adorable Hunter riding boots and immediately felt like I was going to slip on the consistently-wet ground (and maybe I did, but honestly, who needs to know that?). Buy good boots. You won’t regret it.
  2. Sorry to say this, but you’re gonna need TWO pairs of good boots. Purchase non-slip Muck Boots to leave in the winery. They come in handy at the end of the day when you are cleaning the entire winery from floor to ceiling. Again, these puppies are WAY better than Hunters because they cinch in around the calf muscle so water doesn’t glide down and make a pool in the bottom of your boots. (Ask me how I know this.)
  3. Smart-wool socks have changed my life. I get them at REI and they keep my feetsies toasty and dry.
  4. I couldn’t live without my Apple Watch. Mine’s an older model, but still water resistant (highly important), has a timer (which comes in handy when filling tanks with argon), and I can screen phone calls (a tour or our shipping company? Yes. That Chinese robocall? No).
  5. The gloves I find most useful are these babies from HydraHyde. They provide awesome grip when I’m connecting hoses to tanks with Tri-Clover clamps and are somewhat water/wine-resistant.
  6. Pants: I use my oldest stretchy/skinny jeans. No need to muck up anything new! They’re kind-of akin to sweatpants (i.e. super comfy). Any old pair will do. I also have some Water Resistant Tights that have come in handy a few times.
  7. This durable little Lululemon Belt Bag sits on your waist and has enough room for a cellphone, chapstick, and a snack bar. It’s also water repellent! Yeah yeah, I know, it’s really just a glorified Fanny Pack, so make fun of me if you want: I don’t care! (Dear Reader: I now wear steel-toe boots and carry a pocket knife in my back pocket so you can glean that I am not a good judge of what’s cool anymore.)
  8. Unliqo Long Sleeve Heat-Tech Tee-Shirts are FABULOUS. They are warm and a great base layer. I’ve had mine since 2008, no joke.
  9. The Patagonia Better Sweater keeps me warm but allows for lots of movement when I’m climbing on top of barrels and flex tanks. On such occasions, I am deemed a “Cellar Monkey”. Take that, resumé!
  10. Carhartt Jacket and Waterproof Pants: Our right hand man José has these and they make him impervious to water. I’ve been eyeing his duds with extreme jealously all season long, and have since discovered they come in women’s sizes! Woo! They are on the top of my wish list for the 2019 Harvest. So…Christmas in July? Santa, can you hear me?!?
  11. In case of a wine tour in the middle of a day of winery work my secret weapon are these Sorel Boots. I know, I know, now we are on pair number three of footwear. BUT! These are functional yet fashionable, waterproof, non-slip, and give me a little height boost (I’m 5’2″). I can wear them comfortably all over the property (as well as use them on winter trips to the East Coast!)

My very last piece of advice is if you go with your Boss (i.e. Dad) to a wine symposium, don’t let him sneakily put “Cellar Rat” as your title on your name tag lanyard. You might want to check this before you walk into the room. Otherwise, as you saunter through the symposium checking out corks and steam cleaners, you will notice people staring at you and smiling. You may think (rightfully so): “Wow, they must really like my cool, steel-toe Caterpillar boots and Better Sweater.” But no. They are looking at your Cellar Rat title and giggling on the inside. Please, please realize this before the end of the day when someone finally points it out and you die a little inside and clutch your purse tightly over your lanyard for the last 15 minutes of the event.

AT THE END OF THE DAY:

Have a glass of wine to nurse your daily wine wounds: you deserve it! (Or beer, if that’s your jam. As the old saying goes: “It takes a lot of beer to make good wine.”)

After that, treat your wine stains immediately with Incredible Stain Remover (it’s non-toxic and biodegradable)!

Then have another glass of wine.

 

Next up: WHAT TO PUT ON YOUR FACE IN THE MORNINGS DURING HARVEST SO YOU CAN RUN OUT THE DOOR QUICKLY (AND NOT LOOK TOTALLY DEAD)!

P.S. Except for our Sparkling Wine, and the mention of GlenLyon Winery we here at Don’t Burst My Bubble! are not affiliated with any products listed above.