If you don’t have the cash to start up a vineyard but you want to be involved in the process, consider a few of these positions. Production and winemaking jobs are great wine industry careers that can last a lifetime. Starting from the top, a winemaker can be a fulfilling and lucrative position.
As the head honcho of the winemaking process, there would be varied and numerous duties and responsibilities. Besides overseeing the production of all wine, the winemaker also supervises all the staff involved in the process. Further, this position regulates the budget for the winemaking process, maintains records, efficiencies, safety regulations, trainings and inventory. Finally, the winemaker must work closely with the vineyard manager to ensure the grapes are produced and cared for properly.
This is one of the most vital positions in a winery, and thus requires extensive training and experience to fill this position. The general requirements include a bachelor’s degree in Enology or another related degree, at least 5+ years experience in winemaking, a strong knowledge of the pertinent grape varietals, and strong technical winemaking skills. Finally, since the winemaker is essentially the leader of the wine process, they must also possess strong management, organizational, public relations, analytical and public speaking skills. If going the degree route, then there are enology scholarships and money for viticulture studies offered by many sources.
According to WineBusiness.com, a winemaker’s salary will vary depending on years of experience as well as the area you are in, but will average of $93,000 per year. However, for those in the Napa region with 10+ years experience under their belt, it was reported an average of approximately $107,000. Wineries are realizing that the winemakers are an integral piece of their brand and are beginning to compensate accordingly. See our chart below for more salary information. There are several good wine job boards that list these types of positions.
If you ultimately want to be a winemaker, you must first gain experience through being an associate winemaker, or often referred to as a cellar manager. Many of the duties will be the same, but the winemaker will be giving the directions while you would be responsible for executing them. Overall the duties and responsibilities will include winery operations, some vineyard management, bottling operations, and often will help track some budgeting expenses.
Again, if you want to work your way up to winemaker, this is the track to take. However, first look into starting with this education and experience. A bachelor’s degree in Enology or a related field will be required, 2+ years experience with winemaking or vineyard skills is preferred, and strong leadership and organizational skills are a must. WineBusiness.com reports that the average salary for an assistant winemaker is $60,000 to $65,000. Again, see the salary chart below for more salary information.
To truly work your way up, starting as a cellar associate (or as some affectionately refer to as a cellar rat) is a respectable beginning to your career. This position focuses on the technical and scientific part of winemaking. Some of the responsibilities include racking, clarifying and blending of the wine; monitoring the temperature of the wine tanks; keeping inventory of the cellar supplies; and maintaining the sanitation of the wine storage tanks.
The typical qualifications required for this position are a high school educational level, 3 to 5 years of cellar experience, as well as knowledge of operations in the wine cellar, including mixing chemicals, how to operate the tanks and other machines. WineBusiness.com reports that regardless of the winery size the average pay is $32,000 for a cellar associate.
Winemaker Salary Range