Tabitha Crenshaw is an industrious mother of three. She has owned and operated several restaurants in Walla Walla and has now settled in as Guest Service Manager at Spring Valley Vineyard.
Michelle Canfield: Can you please update me on some basic information, including your date of graduation from the EV program, current employer and position, social media handles, and preferred contact details?
Tabitha Crenshaw: I graduated from the EV program in 2008. I am currently employed as Guest Service Manager at Spring Valley Vineyard. The best way to contact me is through email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
MC: How did you get into wine?
TC: I got into wine when working in the restaurant industry while attending college at the University of Washington as a means to pay rent and various other expenses. I attended a staff training about wine, and it piqued my interest and from there it has grown.
MC: Is there someone in the EV world that you admire, including fellow EV alums?
TC: I have always admired Marie-Eve Gilla, she was the winemaker for Forgeron Cellars, and one of the first female winemakers in the valley; she made one of the best Chardonnays that I have ever tasted. I also admire Holly Turner at Three Rivers Winery; she has a fantastic personality and lifts others up.
MC: What’s special to you about working in the wine industry?
TC: The people and the wine are so experienced based. The industry is special because it evolves around what you are eating, who you are sharing it with and the moment that it is happening. It’s an experience, a full emersion of the senses.
MC: What is your favorite part of your job?
TC: Again, it is the people. I like that I get to work with a team to create memorable experiences through true hospitality.
MC: What are some of the challenges you’ve faced in the industry?
TC: I started in production right out of school and met some resistance from male colleagues who believed that women did not belong in this industry because of the amount of physical labor that was involved. Another challenge is salary limitations, a lot of companies don’t value the sales position of the DTC level. I was very happy to find a position with Ste. Michelle because they do find value in that role.
MC: What do you think differentiates and excites you about Washington wine?
TC: Washington wine is still in its infancy, we are figuring out who we are. I love that there are no rules or restrictions. We can play around with blending and fermenting techniques. I also appreciate the wine community; we are very supportive of each other, and you don’t find that everywhere.
MC: How do you foresee climate change or social issues affecting the local industry in the next few years?
TC: Climate change will change the way we view vintages. With smoke damage comes loss. I believe that growing regions will expand, and we will go where the grapes grow through this expansion and change. I am confident that wine drinking and growing will survive!
Social issues are a completely different topic and one that I feel very strongly about. People of color are the majority, and the marketing world has always centered around Caucasian people. As the world changes and the minority becomes the majority, we need to do a better job of representing, welcoming, and finding ways to appeal and be sincere in welcoming them into the wine industry as both producers and consumers.
MC: What are some up-and-coming trends in wine that you are following?
TC: I do not follow a lot of the trends. I however am interested in how we are going to appeal to a younger demographic. I am interested in ecofriendly packaging, and product that is going to be more inclusive to an audience that has so many more choices available to them in the marketplace than ever before.
MC: What advice can you share with future EV graduates?
TC: There is a romance to wine, but not a lot of money to be made. It is a path, a lifestyle that you will meet some of the best people in the world on, people that are willing to share their life and passion with you.