Even before The Great Resignation, it was common to sit at work, daydreaming about a more glamorous career. No matter the industry, the feeling is universal. Today, the urge to switch jobs is at new levels. According to statistics posted on Zippia, 37% of the American workforce changed or lost their jobs in 2020. In addition, 65% of people are actively looking for a new full-time position. It may be surprising to learn that the wine industry has widespread opportunities. Outside of being a sommelier or winemaker, jobs span infinite skill sets that keep wine moving across the globe. From marketing to human resources, here’s a thorough guide to the vast number of wine industry jobs to pursue.
Viticulture is a broad term that encompasses all of the work in the vineyard. This includes planting, ongoing vine health and maintenance, and harvest. In contrast, enology is the cellar counterpart and involves more of a focus on the science of winemaking. Winemaking jobs appeal to people fascinated by nature and like using science to problem solve.
Vineyard management companies or wineries with extensive vineyard holdings usually employ their own viticulturist to monitor vineyards for pests, diseases, nutritional disorders, moisture, and other vine health issues. Viticulturists spend most of their time outdoors, often in extreme hot or cold weather. For that reason, this type of job is great for those who enjoy being active and have experience with agriculture.
A vineyard manager handles the vineyard’s day-to-day operations. Outdoor responsibilities include planting, irrigation, pruning, spraying, erosion and pest control, and harvesting. This position also looks after administrative tasks such as budgets and work schedules. Additionally, it also oversees compliance with agricultural regulations and coordinates field operations with the winemaker to achieve winemaking goals. Consequently, this job suits people with strong communication skills and is good at leading a team.
If words like burette, pipette, and titration are music to your ears, enology could be your calling. Enologist may be responsible for monitoring acid and sugar levels in grapes to running lab tests to overseeing bottling. This role often leads quality control, wine sensory trials, and lab analyses.
A common refrain among winemakers goes, “wine is made in the vineyard.” To that end, winemakers work closely with viticulturists and vineyard managers to communicate when to plant or prune, in addition to other vineyard maintenance, including when to harvest. Winemakers also work closely with enologists, particularly if winemaking processes need adjusting following test results. As well, once the wine is bottled and ready to sell, the winemaker is often responsible for leading educational tastings. This includes tastings with the sales and marketing teams to provide crucial details about the vineyard sites, vintage, and blending decisions.
Wine sales positions range from working for importers or distributors to working directly for a winery or retail shop. There are also ancillary opportunities working for cooperages, cork manufacturers, or glass companies. Two focus areas are direct-to-consumer and wholesale.
DTC sales have boomed in recent years, with many wineries expanding their teams to focus on phone, internet, and wine club sales. Jobs in this area may include brand ambassador, wine club manager, or direct sales. People in these roles have an innate love of wine and forge meaningful relationships with consumers. They are also the brand specialists and balance education, customer service, and ongoing sales.
Positions with distributors are widely available throughout the nation. These positions get wine in the hands of those who sell to consumers – such as restaurants, retail shops, and hotels. Individuals with strong wine knowledge, who like to work outside of an office, and who have excellent analytical and negotiating skills will excel in wholesale sales. If you are self-motivated, outgoing, and organized, look for openings such as sales representative, on-premise sales manager, or area manager with a distributor in your state.
Hospitality jobs allow for the most face-to-face interaction with consumers. These jobs include opening and pouring wines, sharing producer stories, or educating about varietals, regions, and vintages. Hospitality is perfect for those who approach sales as an opportunity to educate and create memorable experiences.
Sommeliers are highly knowledgeable wine professionals who specialize in the guest experience and food pairing. Sommeliers curate wine lists and are personable, guiding customers toward a wine selection during a meal. Many will study through professional programs such as the Wine & Spirit Education Trust and the Court of Master Sommeliers.
A tasting room associate is a storyteller and is often the first impression for guests visiting a winery. Working in a tasting room is an excellent role for those transitioning from another industry or looking to get their foot in the door. It’s a small jump to move into other positions within a winery.
Event managers organize events to market and promote wines or club sales and private consumer events. A high level of attention to detail and desire to create memorable experiences is essential in this role. Understandably, ideal candidates often have backgrounds in the hotel or corporate worlds, with experience managing various events from private dinners to large multi-day conventions.
Marketing, Media, and Public Relations
In today’s digital world, now is a great time to begin a career in wine marketing. Historically, wineries were slow to invest in marketing, preferring to take an organic word of mouth approach to brand awareness. But things are changing. Currently, wineries are seeing the value in marketing teams more than ever.
The number of jobs in digital content is notable. People with a background in email marketing or social media content creation are in high demand as wineries seek to increase visibility. For example, skills in SEO, Facebook ads, and email campaign strategy are easily transferable from other industries.
Working on content creation for a winery or brand is possible with a background in video, photography, or television. For example, wineries often look for photographers and videographers to capture the harvest season and other key moments to tell its brand story. Additionally, with the growing demand for online tastings, media companies are essential to providing professional video, sound, and lighting.
Some large wineries or brands may have in-house public relations positions. However, smaller wineries are likely to hire an outside PR company. In either case, this role maintains relationships with journalists in wine and lifestyle outlets. For example, pitching campaigns, planning media trips, managing charity donations, developing influencer programs, and handling brand partnerships are often a part of this role.
An integral part of the wine industry is shipping and logistics. These roles keep wine moving to support on-time delivery to consumers and distributors. Prior background in warehouse management, supply chain, and freight logistics translate easily to wine fulfillment.
Destination management companies arrange logistical services for group travel. Services include but aren’t limited to arranging transportation, events, meetings, winery visits, and other entertainment and recreational activities.
Many wine regions have organizations supporting vintners, promoting tourism, and protecting the viticulture areas. Several examples are the Napa Valley Vintners, Sonoma County Winegrowers, and Willamette Valley Wineries Association. Moreover, careers within each organization range from administration, marketing, fundraising, sales, event management, and finance.
Finance & Human Resources
Degrees or prior experience in accounting, finance, or human resources, will help find job opportunities as a controller, in compliance, or human resources. Companies looking to grow their portfolio and acquire other brands may also have in-house legal counsel, analysts, or real estate and construction divisions.
To explore current openings in the wine industry, visit winejobs.com or indeed.com. If you have prior experience in another field and wish to transition into a similar career in wine, working with a recruiter might help you land your next dream job.