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Working at a Winery: 3 Facts from Winery Cellar Hand to Winemaker or Manager

By
Sarah Ward
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Working at a Winery

Working at a winery is one of the best ways to get into the world of wine. Much of the BinWise series on wineries has been focused on buying a winery and opening a winery. This article, however, is for folks looking for winery work as well as wine business owners.

The job descriptions detailed below are great for anyone looking to hire or find work. These jobs don’t include everything that might be on a winery job board, since each winery is unique.

There are several skills you might need for these jobs. Of course, some of these require education–be it a degree in viticulture or sommelier classes. Some, however, will be related to any work general labor experience. For workers and winery owners alike, there’s no way of knowing exactly which skills you’ll need until you start digging into the job descriptions.

binwise staff inventory management working at a winery

Winemaker Definition

Of all the jobs at a winery, the winemaker is one you’re sure to have heard of. Chances are you’ve seen this title before we mentioned it in discussing US wineries and the best wineries.

Winemaker is a well-known title because it is the top job at a winery. Without a winemaker, there would be no one to make the big decisions about the grapes and bottling process. While every job at a winery is important, the winemaker ties the whole business together.

A winemaker can be anyone who has a lot of passion, knowledge, and experience with wine. They could be someone who has a degree in viticulture–the study and production of grapes and grape vines. Or maybe someone with a degree in oenology, which is the science and study of wine and winemaking. They could also be a sommelier or someone with similar levels of knowledge in the wine industry. 

If you’re looking for a job in winemaking, the winemaker title is within reach as long as you’re willing to put in the work. It’ll take schooling and practice. The best way to start is to get an entry-level job at a winery or vineyard to get some hands-on experience. 

For winery owners looking to hire a winemaker, there are lots of folks out there with relevant experience. If you find someone who is just beginning their winemaker career, you can grow your winery with them as you learn together.

Viticulturist Definition

A viticulturist is someone who is often the winemaker, but the two can be separate job titles. A viticulturist is a person with an educational background in grapes, vines, and the process of turning wine grapes into the best possible wine. 

The viticulturist of a winery is typically responsible for:

  • Taking care of the vines, from purchasing the vines to planting them to looking after them as they grow and produce grapes.
  • Ensuring proper care is taken for the vines and grapes every step of the way. They take this care even if they’re not the one who is actively doing the work at the moment (in a supervisor role). 
  • Evaluating the crops and wine products, to ensure peak production and learn how to improve the wines along the way. 

Of course, if the viticulturist is also serving as the winemaker, their job will involve a lot more. Overall, the viticulturist and the winemaker are the managers of the winery. As a winery owner, you may fill one or both of these roles.

If not, hiring the best people for your winery will give you one less thing to worry about. It'll help you trust that your grapes and wines are in good hands.

becoming a sommelier ebook

Winery Cellar Worker 

Every winery worker has to start somewhere, and that’s where the winery cellar worker job comes in. Also known as a winery cellar hand, this job is crucial to the everyday success of a winery. The winery cellar worker can be responsible for any number of tasks. 

Responsibilities include:

  • Performing cellar tasks, including crushing, pressing, chemical additions, fermentation, racking, filtering, bottling, and more.
  • Operating and maintaining crushers, presses, pumps, filters, and other winery equipment.
  • Keeping the production space, coolers, and storage areas–including wine storage rack spaces–neat and clean.
  • Working with customers on barrels of custom wine, and sales. 
  • Assisting with tastings and other events, including winery weddings
  • Helping with wine inventory and keeping the collection organized.

The winery cellar worker definition is one that covers a lot of ground. The specific duties and responsibilities could depend on the winery, and they could change from day to day or season to season. 

This job isn’t a glamorous one. It’ll take a lot of hard work, but the result will be in-depth knowledge of wineries and vineyards. For folks looking for wine work, this is the place to start if you don’t have experience.

For winery owners looking to hire some winery cellar workers, there are lots of people out there looking for these jobs. The main point to remember is how important these workers are, and how critical they can be to your winery. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Working At a Winery 

Wineries, though steeped in history and tradition, are a consistently evolving business model. As such, there will always be more to learn about working at wineries. No matter where you’re at in your winery work, these questions will nudge you toward the rest of what you should learn.

What Are Winery Workers Called?

Winery workers can have many titles. Their titles include winery cellar hands or workers, tasting supervisors and assistants, vine assistants, and general customer service. Beyond those, there are winemakers, vintners, viticulturists, and sommeliers.

That’s not a complete list, though. If you’re looking for work, don’t limit yourself to just these terms. You’ll find others depending on the wineries you’re searching for. 

What Skills Do You Need to Work at a Winery?

When working at a winery–no matter the position–you need a variety of skills, including:

  • An understanding of the winemaking process.
  • The ability to adapt as the seasons change with the winemaking process (in other words, working with the best climate for growing wine grapes as the seasons pass).
  • General customer service skills, since tastings and other events will need extra hands.

Beyond that, any general labor skills come in handy, but a lot of winery work includes tasks that you’ll learn as you go along.

How Do I Start a Career in Winemaking?

The best way to get started in a winemaking career is to start learning. No matter which role in the winemaking process you’re after, learning more is always a good idea. From tasting wines on your own to going to school to taking some webinars, more wine knowledge always helps with a winemaking career.

Is Winemaking a Good Career?

Overall, yes, winemaking is a good career. People have loved drinking wine for as long as people have been making wine. That’s not going to change any time soon.

In fact, getting into the winemaking business right now is a great plan. More people are enjoying wine and innovating within the winemaking process and the industry as a whole than ever before.

binwise staff inventory management working at a winery

Working At a Winery: Gloves and Grapes

Whatever role you’re looking to get hired for, working at a winery is always a blast. If you love wine, and you’re looking for an interesting job or lifelong career, searching for some winery jobs is a good call. Maybe you’ll even end up working with a winery owner who’s reading this post at the same time as you.