Tonya Pitts is the Wine Director and Sommelier of One Market in the heart of San Francisco’s Financial District.
How has this year been for you?
When COVID hit in March, we’d just finished Black History Month and were headed into Women’s Month. I had been doing winemaker dinners with women winemakers and had to cancel the last few events as the shutdown orders came. We furloughed most of the staff and kept the managers on until the end of March. At first, I didn’t know what to do with myself, and then I threw myself into my wine studies. We tried to figure out what we could do, but we are in the heart of the Financial District, and almost no one was there anymore. People were supporting their local places where they could, and we saw that, but there is almost no one living in the Financial District, and most people were working from home.
We began doing to-go and meal kits in May—they were a lot of fun. Chef would walk folks through the steps on how to prepare the meal kits, and I’d speak with them about the wines. We had to change the pricing but we weren’t sure how. I looked at the numbers, and they’re heartbreaking. We decided to do 50% off certain wines to keep people interested, and we did virtual pairings. They’ve been great, but we think people have begun to feel Zoom fatigue.
It’s been a chance and an opportunity to change up and do new things. I’ve found myself getting more involved in mentorship projects and starting a small consulting company. I’ve been doing virtual tastings and helping consult with wineries. And having conversations with people in the industry who have had the rug pulled out from under them. How do we give them hope? I’ve been working with Bâtonnage, a group supporting women in wine, and Wine Unify, an initiative helping to promote diversity in the wine industry and to help mentor underrepresented minorities within it.
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