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Grape Careers
15 Jobs for People Who Love Wine
Photo by Matt Lamers on Unsplash
Leslie W. Price
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Theatre director, writer, and arts educator.
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For many folks, wine is a welcome escape at the end of a busy workday, but for some lucky people, wine is their profession. Jobs in the wine industry and related fields are growing at a rapid pace. Whether you’re interested in training for a career that’s directly related to wine or you want to transfer existing skills to a fast and fun new career, there are plenty of jobs to consider. 

Why work in wine?

Generally, wineries are located in beautiful locations. Those places make the grapes happy, and they tend to make humans pretty happy, too! Consequently, those areas can be lovely spots to live in.

Some careers in the wine industry also offer lots of opportunities to travel which can be attractive. Professionals might travel to make sales calls to restaurants and bars, or they might have the chance to attend conferences and food festivals around the world. 

15 careers to consider.

1. Sommelier

A sommelier is a professional who specializes in all aspects of wine. Training is very rigorous as anyone who has watched the documentary Somm can tell you. It can take years of training, and there are varying degrees of mastery. According to Business Insider, a master sommelier can make as much as $150,000 a year, and an advanced sommelier can earn as much as $70,000. 

2. Tasting Room Manager

Almost every winery features a tasting room where guests can sample and learn more about wine. Tasting Room Managers make sure there’s plenty of wine available to serve throughout the day, and they supervise a variety of sales. Wine Business Monthly notes that salaries for Tasting Room Managers are rising with an average salary of $67,200 a year.

3. Sales Representative

Sales Reps are the liaisons between wineries and restaurants, bars, and wine shops. Many professionals in this role are required to travel, but not all are. A working knowledge of wine will be important to this career. According to ZipRecruiter, Wine Sales Representatives average about $52,000 per year. 

4. Marketing Manager

Not surprisingly, wineries need marketing folks. You’ll need experience with marketing trends and strategies as well as basic knowledge about wine. The average salary varies depending on the size of the winery and ranges from $50,000-$100,000 per year according to Glassdoor.

5. Vintner

Vintners supervise the harvesting of the grapes and, with a combination of science and tradition, turn grapes into wine. This role requires significant training, and many vintners have degrees in oenology. Salary.com notes that a vintner can expect to earn between $48,564-$77,761 per year. 

6. Viticulturist

This challenging career focuses on the agricultural aspects of winemaking. A viticulturist needs plenty of specialized training in horticulture in order to be successful, but the return on that investment of time and energy is a salary of up to $95,000 a year according to ZipRecruiter.

7. Tour Guide

Working as a tour guide for a winery isn’t that different from being a tour guide anywhere else. You’ll need to be personable and good at customer service. Wineries tend to provide on-the-job training, but a love and knowledge of wine will come in handy. Indeed suggests this job is generally paid $10-$15 an hour plus tips. 

8. Chef

Good food and good wine go hand in hand, and most of the larger wineries have chefs on staff to create food pairings to go along with wine tastings. Training to become a chef takes a lot of culinary education and hard work. PayScale suggests that an executive chef can earn between $58,000-$98,000 per year. 

9. Journalist

Put your writing skills to work as a journalist who specializes in writing about food and wine. A fulltime food and wine journalist makes about $40,000 a year according to Glassdoor, and ZipRecruiter notes that a freelance feature writer earns between $35,000 and $69,000.

10. Event Planner

Virtually every large winery conducts a variety of events throughout the year. These range from special holiday parties to summer concert series. No special education is required to be an event planner, but people heading into these careers need to be very detail-oriented. PayScale says that Event Planners make an average of $48,000 per year. 

11. Caterer

Many caterers assist their clients with choosing wine. They generally have a fair amount of training in culinary arts. As for wine knowledge, caterers might seek additional education or learn on the job. Catering Managers make approximately $50,000 per year according to Glassdoor. 

12. Bartender

Bartending at an upscale restaurant or lounge requires significant knowledge about wine and spirits, and it can be a fun way to learn about and explore wine. There’s no formal education required to be a bartender, but there are plenty of short term classes to expand your knowledge. ZipRecruiter notes that the annual salary for a bartender is about $25,000 per year plus tips. 

13. Server

While servers don’t need to have a tremendous amount of knowledge about wine, they do need to be able to suggest wine pairings — especially if a sommelier isn’t available. Fine dining servers can earn as much as $62,000 a year according to Indeed. 

14. Wine Club Membership Manager

Wine clubs are a way for wineries to connect with guests after they’ve left the tasting room. Customers sign up for shipments of wine throughout the year and Membership Managers make sure that the process goes smoothly. PayScale notes that Wine Club Membership Managers average about $45,500 each year. 

15. Management

Even wineries need people to work in human resources, accounting, and other traditional management roles so seeking those jobs is a great way to work in the wine industry even if you aren’t ready to work directly with the wine. An H.R. Manager at a large, established winery can make between $67,000 and $134,000 per year according to LinkedIn. An accountant at a winery can expect to make about $70,000 a year according to Glassdoor. 

How to get a job in wine.

Getting a job in the wine industry isn’t that different from finding work in other fields. You’ll need some hard work and patience, but you can reach your career goals with perseverance and dedication.

1. Start at the beginning.

You’ll need to spend some time earning credibility. Sommeliers often start as servers or bartenders, learning about wine along the way. People interested in viticulture are willing to spend time in the fields as lower paid workers in order to get the experience they’ll need as they grow their careers. 

2. Educate yourself.

An interest in wine isn’t enough to get the career you want. If you really plan to go after one of these careers, invest the time in getting the training you need. Whether you’re taking a week-long bartending class or immersing yourself to train to be a master sommelier, you’ll need to get an education. 

3. Make connections.

Talk to lots of folks who already have successful careers in the wine industry. Do some informational interviews. Chat up the sommelier at your favorite restaurant. These people can help steer you toward the right resources or even into potential jobs. Being well-connected will help you find a career that’s a perfect fit

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Leslie W. Price is a theatre artist, educator, and writer living in the San Francisco Bay Area. Find her on LinkedIn or visit her portfolio

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