When dealing with the business world, it’s always helpful to connect with someone like Doc Watson—easygoing, customer-friendly, competent. For 31 years, Watson has worked for the Raley’s Grocery on Keystone Avenue and Seventh Street, and he’s well known in that neighborhood. Customers with one item have been known to skip the express line to stand in his line, where he frequently calls them, particularly the children, by nicknames (I’m Mr. D). On a customer rating page at www.yelp.com, someone wrote, “The produce and Doc are the best parts of the store … ” A less well-known side of him is his wine consultancy. Those wishing to retain him for wine events can call 787-9413.
What does a wine consultant do?
It’s basically helping people with wine. I have been pouring wines for the last 12 years for the distributors in town when there’s fundraisers and wine tastings. … I started out back in ’98. A buddy of mine was a waiter at Adele’s, and he kept trying to get me to come down for the Wednesday night wine tasting, and finally I did. The second Wednesday I sat with these gentlemen and one of the gentlemen, his wife, Carolyn Prusa, she walked around and talked about the wines. So I got to know her and got to pour wines for her at different fundraisers, and that’s how I got to know a little bit about wine.
So you don’t put on wine tastings yourself.
No, not myself. I’ve poured wines at the store here for the distributors, fundraisers in town like Fantasies in Chocolate, Vintage Nevada, the other fundraisers they have. … If there’s one wine I haven’t poured before or tasted when I’m pouring, I have to sample the wine to make sure it tastes OK before giving it to the customers. I describe what I get out of a swallow of wine, and that helps the distributors’ customers a lot.
This is an avocation for you, but if someone wanted to do it full time, is this a big enough market?
I would say no because there are so many different wine shops out there, and you’ve got people working at the different wine shops who do the same thing. And some of them, like Whispering Vines, they’re way, way more knowledgeable than me. I learn when I pour, and I get together with a group of people on Thursdays, usually, when we do wine tastings. We taste different wines there. We have another group that we do wine dinners. We go to different people’s houses and everybody brings good wine.
You get involved in the community. I remember several years ago you worked on site selection for a school. Not everyone likes community affairs.
I don’t know if I’m a rabble-rouser, but I like a challenge, in a way. If you say, “No, you can’t do it,” I keep trying. I might not succeed, but I’ll put up a fighting effort.
What brought you here?
I came here in ’79 for a vacation to visit my brother that just moved here from the L.A. area. And he lived up in Callahan Ranch. And I flew in at night and woke up in the morning—this was in February. They have a bay window looking up on Mount Rose, not a cloud in the sky and snow-capped mountains. And the company I worked for [in Michigan] had filed for bankruptcy while I was out here. There was a little over nine years I had with the company. So I went back and got my 10 years in to where I could get a pension. And I wasn’t married, no ties, and made the move.