Grass Roots to the Sky
Greetings everyone! Welcome to my new blog entitled, Grass Roots to the Sky. My name is Dustin Taylor Oien and I will be your guide on an exciting (I hope atleast) journey through the eyes of a newbie-wino-in training.
I have to admit, I don't know quite what to expect from this blog, but I'm sure it will reveal itself as we progress. My goal of this blog is to give you a hands on look at my journey from humble beginnings as a server at a family-owned restaurant (**The "grass roots" portion of my blog title**) working my way up the 'ladder' to fulfill my dreams of playing an important role in the ever evolving wine industry (**the "Sky" portion of my blog title**). I will be sharing new things that I learn about this industry, new and exciting wines I get to try, and anything else that strikes my fancy.
First a little bit about me: I'm 26 years old, and have been in the hospitality industry for only 6 years now. I first got my feet wet working at a family-owned Lebanese restaurant here in Houston 6 years ago. It was my first table waiting experience, and it was a fantastic experience. I say fantastic now, because I can look back on it and say that I learned a lot. At the time of the job however, it was anything but fantastic...For all of you that work or have worked in the industry, I'm sure you can fill in the blank as to what I could be referring to there. But negativity aside, I learned a lot about the "nitty-gritty" underworkings of what makes a restaurant tick, and I was able to have my first real experience with wine!
After a few years of working at that place, I moved to Dallas and continued to work in the industry for the next 3 years, working at 3 different establishments. The first, and least favorite I might add, bar I worked at was just that, a Bar, and a college campus bar at that. I was quickly promoted to head server in an enviornment where nobody came to have a sit-down meal. I don't know whether I got my promotion out of the incompetency of my coworkers or out of my sheer skill of being a bad*ss server! I would like to think it was the latter however...haha! Needless to say, I didn't stay at that bar very long. It just wasnt my forte, too many drunken idiots falling all over the place and throwing up for my taste. The one positive thing I did gain from this place however is the importance of strict TABC rule implementation, which as anyone in the industry knows, could really save your butt.
After that 'interesting' experience, I moved to a legitimate wine bar. Whether or not the owner could be considered a "legitimate businessman" or not is irrelevant. I was able to finally learn a considerable amount about wine. The best part about this whole experience was that the owner was obsessed with Amerone's, and felt the need to open up a bottle to share with the staff on a somewhat regular occurance.
After building a good base knowledge of wine, I continued to sharpen my serving skills for the next year at Spanish Tapas cafe in Dallas, continuing to build upon my wine knowledge at the same time. I don't really have much to say about this establishment, which I guess translates to: It was a great experience! haha!
So then in 2010 I moved back here to Houston to seek out a second degree, Hotel Restaurant Management from the Conrad Hilton College at U of H, a degree that is much more practical than Philosophy which was my first. While continuing school, I stumbled upon the Crown Jewel of work experiences for my goals in life: The Tasting Room in Uptown Park. They just happened to be hiring when I showed up, and I have been bartending there for over a year now. Since working here, I have increased my wine knowledge 10-fold, both through work experience and School/sommelier training.
Now I'm at a point where I will continue to bartend for a while, but I will being working on business development and wine development with The Tasting Room's Parent corporation. I cannot express to you how excited I am right now in my life. It is truly rewarding to have a set of goals in the back of my mind as to what I want for my life, and see them unfolding in front of my eyes. Now all I have to do is be patient and work hard...
Thank you for taking the time to read my very first blog experience, and I look forward to sharing with you more in the very near future.