Craig Root of Visitor Management Resources

St. Helena area resident Craig Root, of Visitor Management Resources, will teach a class, "Tasting Room Design and Management" at U.C. Davis at the end of February.

During his decades of work in the wine industry, Craig Root has created or remodeled more than 100 tasting rooms all over the U.S., Canada, China and France.

Root, president of his business Visitor Management Resources, said the secret to successful tasting room design is to create as much elbow room to allow as much face-to-face interaction with customers as possible.

Root recommends offering both sit-down and standing wine tasting opportunities.

“Sit-down tastings, led by a staff member, result in higher sales and wine club signups,” said Root.

“But counter tasting has a place also. The thing is to offer options.

1. Which three people would you most like to have dinner with?

Robin Williams, Nora Ephron, André Tchelistcheff.

2. What job would you like to try/not try?

Try: Book publisher.

Not try: Lion tamer.

3. What was your first job?

Esquin and Draper Wine importers in San Francisco.

4. What’s the worst job you ever had?

Working in a canning factory.

5. How did you get into the wine industry?

Started as a tour guide at Beaulieu.

6. What’s a common mistake tasting rooms make?

They understaff and don’t do tours. People who go on tours buy more. Tours give you the ‘wow’ moment.

7. What’s one of the more unique tasting rooms in the valley?

Hess Collection. It has an amazing, world-class art collection. And they do sit-down and standing tours.

8. What is the biggest challenge the wine industry has faced?

Training and paying tasting room staff properly.

9. Who do you most admire in the business world?

Tom Selfridge (of The Hess Collection Winery Inc.)

10. What’s something people might be surprised to know about you?

I’m also a professional musician. I play drums. I’ve played hundreds of music jobs all over Northern California particularly the Napa Valley.

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Root can be reached at 707-963-7589 or craigaroot@comcast.net.


Business Editor

Jennifer Huffman is the business editor and a general assignment reporter for the Napa Valley Register. I cover a wide variety of topics for the newspaper. I've been with the Register since 2005.