Workamping: Day One

We arrived at our campground on a Thursday afternoon.  We had Friday to get some rest after our long drive and then we began our new jobs at Villa Bellezza on Saturday morning.

As soon as we accepted the jobs, the winery owner emailed us some study information to help us get to know the wines and learn about our new positions so we had reviewed some information during our drive to Pepin but were definitely looking forward to some additional training.

Villa Bellezza is modeled after an Italian piazza and it is truly beautiful.  There is a tasting room where guests can sample the wines, a restaurant that just opened this year that serves food on the huge open-air piazza, an event center where large wedding receptions can be held, an outdoor pavilion in the middle of the vineyard where outdoor weddings are held and a full production wine-making facility as well as acres of grape vines.

The owners grow about 30% of the grapes themselves and purchase the remaining from local growers in the area.  They use only midwest grapes, hybrids specifically developed to withstand the midwest's humid summers and freezing cold winters.  They are very proud of their wines and have reason to be-many of their wines have won medals at international competitions. 

We were hired to help them during this busy harvest season. Not only do the grapes need to be harvested in the fall but it's also the main tourist season for this area due to the stunning fall color on the bluffs along the Mississippi River.  So we work in all areas-the restaurant, the tasting room, the event center and the vineyard, wherever they need us.

Our first day, we showed up at 11am, eager to start our training.  We were assigned to the restaurant area which is located on the outdoor piazza.  Guests order food and wine from us at the bar and then we simply deliver the food when it's ready.  Not a full service restaurant, so pretty easy.  Our trainer was actually a summer intern.  We quickly learned that most of the employees we met were summer interns and would all be leaving in a few weeks.  She did an excellent job showing us the ropes and teaching us the POS system but our training was cut short around noon when we were suddenly hit with a crush of guests.  From noon until 9pm we worked our asses off.  The lines of people were almost non-stop, every table was full and the kitchen couldn't keep up with the orders.  It was over 90 degrees with lots of humidity so every employee was dripping sweat as we raced around delivering food, bussing tables, stocking supplies, and pouring wine.  It was fucking chaos.  
We stumbled home just after 9pm, our feet aching and our clothes drenched in sweat and we laughed at the insane day we had just experienced.  We took long showers and fell directly into bed knowing that we had to be back at 8am the next morning to start our shift on the event crew.