Stu Watson
September 22, 2012 | Archive | Stu Watson

New tasting room manager, Emma brings a love of variety to her job

While she studied sociology and French at the University of Washington, Emma-Rose Rossoff had no clue that she was really putting down a solid foundation for work as the tasting room manager for Naked Winery in Hood River.
Think about it. Tasting rooms are all about customer service, education, exploration. So is sociology. And French, among other things, provides a passport to explore what many consider the world's most historic wine producing country.

"People ask me, 'How has your degree helped you?'" Rossoff says. "It's been super helpful, every day, working with people at a winery."

Rossoff recently assumed responsibility for the tasting room, after the departure of Shelly Bradley to take care of her grandmother.

"She was awesome," Rossoff says. "There are some big shoes to fill. We would love to have her back in the tasting room, whenever she wants to return."

After graduation, Rossoff spent two years managing a Seattle wine bar and working to secure Level I wine training through the Court of Master Sommeliers.

She joined Naked two years ago, at first to help Emily Knutson organize events, then to manage development and marketing of Naked's apparel and accessories.

The company had about two T-shirts when Rossoff  donned that duty. A year later, the selection of winery wear had increased six-fold.

Now there's something for everyone, from the skimpy to the comfy, the flashy to the outdoorsy (Outdoor Wino, anyone?).

She's still responsible for apparel, while devoting a big chunk of her time to keeping the fun flowing into and through Naked's three tasting rooms -- the main bar, the middle bar for overflow on busy nights, and the southernmost space, for use by wine club members and their guests.

"Part of the challenge for me is to find ways to make people want to come in and be part of Naked Winery," she says. "My goal is to keep people wanting to come back."

Yes, the wink-wink "cheekiness" is part of the appeal. Rossoff says finding and building a team of people who enjoy interacting with visitors is one key way to amp up the fun level.

Like her employers, Dave and Jody Barringer, Rossoff loves skiing. Because she also works during the winter running ski camps at nearby Mt. Hood Meadows Ski Resort, she has seen how people who thrive on the mountain often find a happy home during the busy warmer months at Naked.

"For many of our new hires, we've been able to watch how they do their jobs at Meadows," she says. "We like to hire that way. And we'll ask them, 'Do you have friends?' One thing I enjoy is Dave and Jody's flexibility to go with the lifestyle of Hood River."

As she took a brief break on a recent Wednesday afternoon, Rossoff left the tasting bar in the able hands of Tracy Thomsen, another Seattle refugee who came to Naked after teaching skiing last winter -- at Meadows.
"I get to do a little of everything here," Thomsen says. "It's great -- there's never a dull moment."


Commenting has been turned off.