Somebody asked me the other day what kind of jobs there were in the wine business. Here’s a few:
1. Wine maker – duh.
2. Cellar master – any place that puts together more than a few hundred barrels each year could proabably use a dedicated employee to look after them and the wine inside. You’ll have to cellar rat a few years and then specialize your training. Perhaps pursue some secondary education. Maybe a stint at a barrel maker would be handy. Which leads me to . . .
3. Cooper – somebody, preferably a craftsman, has to make all those barrels. Study carpentry and joinery and then get a gig in one of the big houses in the U.S. or Europe. Then branch out on your own.
4. Cellar rat – slightly above a hose dragger, mostly a full time gig doing all the menial and dirty jobs around the cellar. There is no better way to learn how the wine is made.
5. Harvest helper (hose dragger) – if you’re heading into production you’ll have to do this at some point. Depending on the operation, you could be doing everything from picking grapes to filtration to driving truck to filling in behind the shop counter. The pay is minimal; the experience is essential.
6. Sales – after the owner decides to hang up one of the hats he/she wears, sales jobs suddenly materialize. Days on the road, customers with no freaking idea, missed quotas, everybody wanting free wine. Pure joy for the right person.
7. Wine Shop staffer – different operations have different systems, but like any retail operation, look for the place that rewards proven performers. Besides the wage, is there any bonus structure, perks, possibility of advancement, benefit plans or wine allowance?
8. Wine Shop manager – one of those jobs where the crap can come at you from above (boss), below (staff) and sideways (public). If you like to juggle, you may want to try this.
9. Winery Supplies – It’s mostly 9 to 5. Wineries need stuff and equipment. The lab has to be stocked, the wine shop needs knick-knacks, the cellar needs another bag of citric acid. You can fill this need with your huge inventory and free delivery for orders over $50.
10. Winery Equipment – The big stuff like presses and tanks. You don’t sell one everyday but when you do – yipee! Find a line not represented in your area and get an exclusive distribution agreement. Helps to also be a . . .
11. Equipment technician – if you understand how stuff works (machines) you can carve out a niche in the winery business. A lot of wine makers and winery owners come from varied fields and seldom do those fields include the skills to fix electric motors, pumps, compressors, belt drives and all sorts of stuff.
12.Packaging – even wineries that spend too little time on their wine seems to spend an inordinate amount of time getting the bottle, label, closure and capsule just right. Help ease the pain by representing a spiffy line of packaging for the wine business.
13.Wine Club organizer – wine clubs as sales drivers are nothing new. But with the rapid rise of the internet over the last two decades comes on-line clubs that, in some cases, eclipse the sales of the bricks and mortar wine shops in their own organization. If you’re a marketing expert with an emphasis on web communities this may be your calling.
14.Food Service – if you have a background in food preparation or service you may have noticed that many wineries are integrating food into their customer interpretation centres (wine shops).
It could be the fanciest restaurant in the area or a simple cold counter serving deli style take-away. Come up with a concept and sell it to the winery with the greatest need and the greatest possibility of success.
15. Tour Guide – get your chauffeur’s license and drive folks around wine country. It seems to get more popular every year. There’s all sorts of ways to build in commissions to this gig. They’re your captives for several hours. Shouldn’t you earn something for recommending the same excellent restaurant everyday to well-heeled visitors?