This is an ideal career for creative thinkers. Winemakers, also known as Oenologists, plan, supervise and coordinate the production of wine. If you are a winemaker in a small estate, you may be responsible for the whole winemaking process, from the growing of the grapes to the bottling and marketing of the finished products.
Career Advice – Winemaker Career
If you are employed in a large winery or industrial operation, you would be more likely to be in charge of the technical side of the business; you might specialize in one line of wines, only one wine, or even in the research and development of new wines.
What you do everyday
As a winemaker at a small-medium sized family owned winery you are likely to be responsible for the day to day operation of the winery. You also have a supervisory role in the vineyard and play a part in public relations activities. Every day is different, but on any single day you might be operating the machinery that crushes or presses fruit, transferring wine from barrel to tank, tasting trials, supervising bottling, digging out tanks, doing chemical analysis, negotiating fruit purchase or bulk wine sales, meeting customers at the cellar door… the list goes on.
Personality that best fit this occupation
Foremost a winemaker needs to have a good sense of smell and taste. This does not mean that you have a huge understanding or love of wine to begin with, but you should already care about what you eat and drink. You need to make accurate observations and then be able to analyse and solve problems. Some aspects of the job are quite technical, so a good maths and science brain is important, and all the better if it is coupled with a creative thinking.
As you are working with others and engaging with clients it’s essential to have good communication skills and good interpersonal skills. Sulphur dioxide is frequently used in the winemaking process and people with severe asthma may experience problems, especially in a small operation where you will be using it yourself.
Best things about this career
Every day is different. Getting dirty and going home at the end of the day physically exhausted from real work. How many people get to break a sweat other than at the gym? You also get top be part of the world of wine – an amazing thing, full of wonderful characters, gorgeous places, history, culture and passion.
Worst things about this career
The hours can be very long, especially during the 2-3 month vintage, where 12-14 hours a day 13 days a fortnight are pretty much the norm. Even during the rest of the year, hours are unpredictable, with a blocked filter or trouble with a chill plant turning an eight hour day into an all-night session. Vintage in particular puts a huge strain on family life.
Winemaking is essentially guiding a natural process, yet it is quite technical. There is a lot that can go wrong. It’s quite stressful as mistakes can be expensive. If you are lucky you are making wines which are expressions of yourself and a place – they are then judged, in shows, by journalists, fellow winemakers and the paying public, so you have to be comfortable with that.