This particular piece has been fermenting in me for a while, but had to be expressed after I had a particularly bad millennial experience over Memorial Day Weekend. The piece may give away my age, but at 55, I don’t really give a shit about what people think of me any more. After all, I am the Wine Wench® and snarky is my middle name…
Because they are our new demographic, wine industry has been trying its best to woo the millennial generation, but when it comes down to it, many of them are more about capturing “the winery experience,” than possessing actual curiosity about wines and the wine industry. A millennial’s trip through wine country is usually seen through a series of selfies in and around wineries. They don’t tend to spend a lot of money. My apologies if I seem to be generalizing, but this has been my personal experience.
I have been working in tasting rooms in the Sonoma and Napa County wine industry for 35 years and I have experienced brilliance, stupidity and everything in between from tasting room visitors during that time. Lately, I am experiencing more stupidity and rude behavior from our young visitors than ever before and it makes me sad.
This onslaught of self-absorbed, entitled stupidity raises some questions:
- Is this because much of the millenial generation was raised in single parent households, with guilty parents overcompensating and overindulging their kids (Guilty as charged, but I taught my son respect)?
- Is this just a sign of the times? Millenials don’t even like other millenials. Just ask them – they will tell you.
In Sonoma County, where I live and work, if you are a millennial woman, going wine tasting has turned into a somewhat sleazy fashion show. We are talking rompers (or “Rumpers” as my guy friend Rick describes them, because of the garment’s tendency to ride up the butt after a few glasses of wine – quite a show, if you are a butt guy!), open kimonos over what looks like lingerie, mile-high stiletto heels (just great for walking around the uneven terrain around wineries), high-low skirts and dresses, Daisy Duke shorts and cleavage galore. These fashionistas range in size and shape and there are just some things one cannot un-see. I am traumatized.
Many spackle on lipstick before and during their tasting adventures and clouds of fragrance surround them. Gotta love it.
Here’s what happened over Memorial Day Weekend: The winery where I was working at the time was really busy as a group of six millennials came in. One of them was asking for matches, which should’ve been a clue (our winery, like most others, is a smoke-free facility).
After ordering some wine, they took it outside to enjoy on our patio. Fine. No problem there. Many people enjoy their wine and food on our patio. After a few minutes, I walked outside to check on the tables of visitors on the patio and got a big whiff of skunky bud coming from said millennial’s table. I put my big boss panties on and walked over to the table. I asked, “Is someone smoking?” They looked a bit guilty and denied it. I told them that the winery was a smoke-free facility and to please not smoke. A few minutes later, my co-worker told me that the group was smoking pot again, and again I politely asked them to stop.
Not long after that, I looked up and one of the young women from that group was sitting in one of our Adirondack chairs by the front door, smoking a joint – just casually puffing away, like she was in her living room. I walked up to her and asked her to stop and she rolled her heavily mascara-ed eyes and said, “Uh, OK. I’ll stop. I RESPECT you.”
The topper was when a different young woman from that group wanted a final glass of wine from me and literally threw her cash in my face while paying for her wine. She was mad that I had asked them to not smoke. I was too shocked to respond to her rudeness. I shook my head in sad amazement when they finally left.
Ah, working in the hospitality business. Maybe I’m slightly masochistic, but I still love it after all these years.