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More than stomping grapes – where to find jobs in the wine industry

Did you know that Ontario has over 17,000 acres of grapes (roughly the size of Cleveland, Ohio) and 175 registered wineries? Behind the scenes, a lot of people work on bottling, corking, and capping each label. Not to mention the professionals who grow the grapes, inspect the quality, and market the finished product.

If you are looking for a stable career in the food and beverage industry with a good sense of job security, take a look at your options in the wine industry.



Lots of jobs in the wine industry

Begin your career as a wine cellar hand and work your way up to become a winemaker or change your career path to work on the vineyard. According to Wine Growers Ontario, the wine and grape industry has created more than 18,000 jobs in Ontario. If you are looking for a stable job, the wine industry may be a good option to consider.


There is so much to learn about

Even if you don’t have a formal education, you can learn a lot in this industry. Employers often do not require a degree for a career in winemaking. However, if you want to be a winemaker in the future, you can study viticulture, enology, horticulture, food science, or wine science.


Get to know other wine enthusiasts

Although there are many passionate people in the food industry, this is especially true in the wine industry. Many wineries are run by families who are passionate about what they do. It is a rewarding experience because it allows you to meet people from all over the world. Working on a vineyard is considered a way of life rather than “work” by those in the industry.

Want to learn more about winemaking in Ontario? Read the story of Levi De Lorin, a brand winemaker for Jackson-Triggs Niagara Estate Winery.



Jobs in the wine industry

You have a lot of options if you want to work in the wine industry. Take a look at some of the jobs you can apply for right now.

Cellar Workers/ Harvest Help
If you enjoy working with your hands, this is the perfect job for you! Harvest hands help the Cellarmaster with production activities such as crushing, fermentation, clarification, ageing, blending, and bottling. It’s an excellent opportunity for people to learn about what goes on behind the scenes in the winemaking process.

Distributers
Once a wine is produced, it must be distributed to restaurants, hotels, retail stores, and other locations where it can be purchased. The job of a distributor is to plan, direct, and coordinate the distribution of a product or service to the final consumer. Individuals with wine knowledge, a desire to travel (often by car, within one’s own region), and excellent analytical and negotiating skills will find success in this field.

Sommelier
If you go to a high-end restaurant, you will almost certainly come across a professional who pairs wine with food. Sommeliers are in charge of making wine pairing recommendations to customers based on their preferences.  People with strong listening skills, a service orientation, and communication skills would make excellent sommeliers.



Quality Control/ Quality Assurance
The foundation of the food industry. Quality control technicians ensure that each batch of wine is not only safe to drink, but also matches the quality in the winemaker’s mind. People who enjoy working on a small team, have an eye for detail and are critical thinkers will be successful in this aspect of winemaking.

Related podcast: Breaking down the wine making process with Katrina Pukitis – Winery Laboratory Technician at Jackson-Triggs Estate Winery

Marketer
In supermarkets, you will find a wide variety of wines. For vineyards to differentiate their product they need to have individuals who can properly market their products. Marketers create marketing campaigns, reach out to new/existing clients, develop social media content and provide general help with a company. This work is ideal for outgoing, creative and organized individuals.

Store staff
Store employees are the last people to touch a bottle of wine before the customer sees it. Many people make their living solely by serving or selling wine. Restaurants and retail stores must staff evening and weekend tasting events, and restaurants must hire servers and bartenders who can make wine recommendations. People who work in store must have excellent customer service skills as well as the ability to multitask.


How to get started with a job at a vineyard

  1. Begin your career as a cellar hand if you want to work in the wine industry. Write personalized emails to wineries in an area of interest, asking them to work in their wine yard.
  2. If you want to work in sales, start your search in wine retail. Learn about local wine stores and apply for a retail job. This is a fantastic opportunity to learn about the characteristics of wine from the perspective of a consumer and what is important to them.
  3. Network! Let everyone know that you are interested to work in the wine industry.
  4. There are many schools that offer degrees in winery and viticulture. For example, Niagara College in Ontario, Canada, offers a winery and viticulture degree and courses such as “Introduction to Wine Chemistry” and “Vineyard Pruning and Maintenance Practices.”

Get ready for your future in food!

Over the next several months, Food and Beverage Ontario will be providing free career mentorship and virtual career fairs through our partners, FoodGrads and Food Processing Skills Canada. Tell us you’re interested by filling in the form.

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