When you think of wine storage, the first thing that probably comes to mind is a dark, damp wine cellar. That’s not the case in the Las Vegas restaurant, Aureole. Their wine is stored in a $1.2 million glass and steel tower smack dab in the middle of the restaurant. At four-stories tall, it’s a daunting task to grab the bottles at the very top. Aureole has a unique solution: so-called “wine angels” who scale up and down the massive tower on wire cables, just like Tom Cruise’s character in Mission:Impossible! It’s an unforgettable sight that keeps people coming to see the “angels” at work.
Order a bottle of wine for your table and you’ll see the wine angels spring into action. Wearing catsuits that look like something out of an international spy thriller, they hang from cables that can support up to 1,000 pounds, though, of course, the angels weigh nowhere near that much. The cables can propel them from the floor to the very top of the tower in ten seconds, a very quick trip up. They wear holsters on their thighs which they use to transport the bottles up and down the tower. The height took a bit of getting used to. One of the angels, Daphne Lucas, spoke with The Las Vegas Sun about her experience working the tower. “I couldn’t go all the way up my first day,” she recalled. “I was terrified, just because it was new and I really didn’t know how to move around in there.”
After getting used to being strung up four-stories high in the air, the only other trouble the angels had was navigating the narrow corners of the steel and glass tower. Another angel, Eboni Lomax, told The Las Vegas Sun, “It’s pretty narrow. The cables take you up and down, so when you have to get the bottles on the corners, you have to kind of kick off the beams and use your body weight.” Tight corners aside, there’s plenty that makes the job well worth it. Sometimes couples come by and the angels are asked to help proposals run smoothly. “That’s one of the best parts,” Lomax said. “I’ve held up banners with proposals from inside the tower. One time there were a lot of couples, and all the women were looking around and wondering, ‘Is that for me?’ Then the woman turned around, and he was on one knee.” How romantic is that?
Strangely enough, no prior training seems to be necessary in order to land a job as a high-flying wine angel, though there is one very important question they ask before you start: are you afraid of heights? “They want to make sure you’re up for the job,” Lucas said. “It’s kind of scary going up, and they want to make sure you’re not going to freak out.” Yeah, freaking out in that small space would not be advisable. Plus, the tower can hold up to about 10,000 bottles of wine at a time, so it’s best to hire only those who can keep a cool head about them despite the height. Shockingly, neither Lomax or Lucas have ever dropped a single bottle during their tenure as wine angels. In fact, only ten bottles have ever been dropped since the restaurant opened in 1999.
The wine angels have a seriously enviable job. They get to defy gravity on a daily basis, work in an awesome restaurant, and feel like a secret agent the whole time. In fact, it’s even better than being a secret agent. With this gig, there’s wine involved. Yum.