Here at Union the safety and security of our employees is our utmost concern. Although our production facility is operating more or less uninterrupted to make sure everyone out there has access to our wines, there are real and dedicated people showing up and working every day making that happen. We have to make sure these fine and friendly folks overseeing the process stay safe and remain healthy.
As COVID safety becomes an excepted part of our daily lives, people have begun to use the necessity of wearing a mask as a personal expression of their style and interests. We support that 100%, which is why when our Enologist (don’t worry, an explanation will be provided forthwith) came to us and said she was making stylish and comfortable homemade masks, we asked if she wouldn’t mind sewing a few for her fellow employees who might need a little joie de vivre in their facial covering.
She was more than happy to contribute.
Please meet our Enologist (and mask maker,) Joanna Engel. For the uninitiated, an enologist is basically a wine scientist. Most of her days are spent testing the acidity, sulfur, sugar levels, and overall taste of each wine throughout the fermentation process. Joanna first worked with Union as an intern back in 2018 but has traveled the world from California to New Zealand working wine harvests. Since then, she has happily settled in Oregon and taken up a full-time position at Union, not only as the Enologist but as their Safety Supervisor as well, which in these trying times really requires some forethought and strategy. Currently, Joanna is working on how to safely execute Union’s grape harvest, which is coming up very soon.
On top of all this responsibility, she somehow found the time to sew about 40 new masks for her fellow employees!
So, without further ado, let’s talk about…
You can find the full pattern for free HERE. Joanna is a self-taught seamstress and she found this pattern when searching around the internet. The reason she liked it was because unlike the cloth masks that cover your entire lower face, these are sculpted to just cover the necessary parts, while still providing full protection. Joanna advises that if you get to a point in the pattern that is causing confusion, just look it up on YouTube, where there are hundreds of helpful videos.
The other great aspect of this pattern is an inside pocket to add an extra filter if you feel you need it. Just google ‘Carbon Mask Filter’ to find many options. Once you have sewn the mask, Joanna recommends a simple standard elastic, secured with crimping beads. She leaves the elastic a little long and the beads uncrimped, allowing the wearer to custom fit the length of the elastic to their face and then crimp the beads themselves.
Now that you’ve got the skinny on how you can do this yourself, let’s take a quick look at the Union packaging facility, and all of these beautiful masks not only in use but modeled expertly by our staff.
First up, Alexandra Scharpnick. Her official title is Customer Experience and Hospitality Specialist. Since there hasn’t been as much socializing lately, Alexandra has stepped up to the role of overseeing shipping. She’s also the unofficial “mama bear” of the packaging facility, making sure everyone is safe and has snacks to keep up their energy.
Next up is Meredith McGough, head Production Winemaker. Meredith oversees the packaging facility and keeps all the many moving parts running smoothly.
Chris Miller oversees all the maintenance at the packaging facility. He wears many hats, and now he’s got a double scoop mask to match.
And finally, we have our Warehouse Support Specialist, Jenna Morris. A more recent hire, Jenna has quickly ingratiated herself as a full-fledged member of the Union family.
So in conclusion, we just want to say thanks again to Joanna: Enologist, Safety Specialist, and mask-maker extraordinaire. She truly represents the heart and soul of the Union Family…and we’re definitely not kitten around.
Photography and Text by David L. Reamer. (@dlreamer)
Masks by Joanna Engel. @jo_will_run_for_wine