A Texas Winery’s Tips for Engaging Volunteers

Involving your adoring fans can be a good way to interact with them while also getting some work done.

Having regular volunteers can come in handy for wineries with estate vineyards who like to involve the public with grape picking and other tasks associated with harvest.

“We have a robust volunteer list, and we use volunteers throughout the year, not just at harvest time,” said Roxanne Myers, president of Lost Oak Winery. “We get them to help bottle; we get them to help prune. Pruning’s very specific, and there’s a lot of art in pruning, but we do training. We engage them throughout the year in different projects.”

The Burleson, Texas winery also has an Adopt a Vine program where customers can adopt a row — not just a specific vine — and there’s an event built around it.

“You get private tours, you get your nameplate on the end of the row, you get wine from that row,” she said “So that’s kind of fun, and they take ownership in those vines.”

Noting that they’re as much an “entertainment facility” as they are a winery, Myers said events for volunteers include music and t-shirts for volunteers, as well as invitations to socials and company parties. Volunteers are also invited to the holiday barbecue.

“We try to engage them at every level, and we treat them like family, because it takes everybody to move this ship,” Myers said. “It’s a good time, and I feel like our guests, staff and volunteers are equally important.”

Myers said it was important to remember that guests, volunteers and staff don’t exist in a vacuum. Any individual could potentially be one of those three things at any given time, and that’s something she keeps in mind.

“I look at it from 360 degrees: Anybody who’s a volunteer could be a future employee, anybody who’s an employee could be a future guest, and anybody who’s a guest could be a future volunteer,” she said. “So we treat everybody well and make it fun for everybody at all levels. It’s a holistic approach.”

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