Wine Producer

The Job and What's Involved

The job of a wine producer is to make wine from grapes. Wine is produced from red and white grapes grown on vineyards in many parts of the world.

A wine producer works in one or both of the following areas of wine production:

Viticulture: the cultivation of the grapevine, involving selecting a suitable site for a vineyard and planting, establishing and maintaining the vines. A wine producer working in this area can also be called a grape grower.

Vinification: making the grapes into wine in the winery. This involves processing the grapes, controlling the fermentation process by which the grape juice is converted into wine, packaging and distribution. A wine producer working in this area can also be called a winemaker.

Winemakers may work alone all day operating equipment such as presses, fermentation tanks and bottling lines.

In smaller vineyards, wine producers may have additional tasks, such as sticking labels on bottles by hand. Many are also involved in wine sales, either to the public or the wine trade. Some vineyards are also tourist attractions, where wine producers share their enthusiasm and knowledge of wines with visitors.

Most work as a wine producer is based overseas in the major wine-producing regions of the world. However, there are limited but increasing opportunities in the UK.

Wine producers involved in viticulture work mainly outdoors. Like any agricultural work, this job does not have regular hours. Harvest is a particularly busy time, as grapes have to be picked and put in the press according to a set timescale.

There is a lot of manual work, but agricultural equipment is also used, such as cultivators, sprayers and tractors.

Winemakers work inside the winery, operating the wine making equipment. Work areas have to be kept clean and staff may be provided with protective clothing.

Starting salaries may be around £15,000 to £17,000 a year for roles such as assistant winemaker. With experience, a wine producer can earn between £20,000 and £35,000.

A successful, international wine producer or chief winemaker could earn more than £50,000 per year.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

Wine producers can be employed by a large vineyard or run their own wine making business.

There are fewer than 100 wine manufacturing workplaces in the UK. Production is divided between wineries making:

Wine produced from grapes grown in the UK: fewer than 100, mostly small and micro business employing fewer than 10 staff each.

Wine produced from imported grape concentrate: fewer than 10 medium and large business employing more than 50 staff.

Internationally, there are opportunities to work in the major wine-producing areas of Europe, including Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania, as well as in North and South America, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. Many English wine producers work in overseas vineyards and sometimes return to this country with their skills.

Jobs are advertised in local and national newspapers and in wine trade journals such as Harpers Wine & Spirit Weekly, as well as by recruitment consultancies. They also appear on company websites and on www.ukwinejobs.com

Education and Training

There are no set entry qualifications, although some employers may ask for GCSE's (A*-C) in English or maths. Science or food technology may also be useful.

It may be possible to enter through an Apprenticeship.

Apprenticeships and Advanced Apprenticeships provide structured training with an employer. As an apprentice you must be paid at least £95 per week; you may well be paid more. A recent survey found that the average wage for apprentices was £170 a week. Your pay will depend on the sector in which you work, your age, the area where you live and the stage at which you have arrived in the Apprenticeship.

Entry to Employment (e2e) can help to prepare those who are not yet ready for an Apprenticeship. In addition, Young Apprenticeships may be available for 14- to 16-year-olds. More information is available from a Connexions personal adviser or at www.apprenticeships.org.uk.

There are different arrangements for Apprenticeships in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

For further information visit My World of Work www.myworldofwork.co.uk/modernapprenticeships, Careers Wales www.careerswales.com; and for Northern Ireland contact www.careersserviceni.com.

The Diploma in manufacturing and product design may be relevant to this job role.

A number of specialist courses are also available, including foundation degrees in wine making and foundation diplomas in wine making at Plumpton College and Brighton University. The specialised courses in wine making are very practical and students spend a lot of time in a vineyard and winery, either in the UK or on a placement abroad.

Entry into wine making could also be via other degree subjects, such as food science, food technology and microbiology.

An additional entry route for wine producers is via a family business. For those without this advantage, additional entry routes include:

Working as a vineyard operative, assistant winemaker or cellar hand in a winery and learning through on-the-job training.

Casual work, known as doing a harvest, in vineyards in the UK or abroad. This is excellent experience to have when applying for jobs within the industry or when attending any wine production courses.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

Employees can train on the job, often alongside an experienced wine producer. Some winery/vineyards give staff the opportunity to take part-time courses and work towards qualifications such as:

  • NVQ Levels 1 and 2 in food manufacture.
  • Level 2 NVQ in food manufacture production control skills, food manufacture facilities service support skills, food manufacture distribution skills or food manufacture operational skills.
  • NVQ Level 3 in food manufacture, food manufacture specialist management skills, food manufacture specialist supply chain skills or food manufacture specialist technical skills.

The Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET) offer a range of qualifications. Postgraduate study in related subjects can help to progress careers in the wine trade.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

A wine producer should have:

  • A passion for wine and knowledge of wines from around the world.
  • An understanding of all the different production processes involved.
  • The ability to assess the quality of wine.
  • An understanding of the wine market.
  • An ability to work independently.
  • Strong communication skills.
  • Marketing and management skills.

Your Long Term Prospects

Successful wine producers often seek to buy and run their own vineyards. Some move into vineyard management, quality control and research. Others move into marketing, buying or retail positions in the wine trade.

Many English wine producers diversify for economic reasons, setting up shops and restaurants at the vineyard site to supplement their income. Some move into careers in catering and hospitality.

Get Further Information

Careers in Food and Drink
Website: www.careersinfoodanddrink.co.uk

English Wine Producers, PO Box 5729,
Market Harborough LE16 8WX
Tel: 01536 772264
Website: www.englishwineproducers.com

Improve Ltd, Ground Floor, Providence House,
2 Innovation Close, Heslington, York YO10 5ZF
Tel: 0845 644 0448
Website: www.improveltd.co.uk

The Institute of Masters of Wine,
2/3 Philpot Lane, London EC3M 8AN
Tel: 020 7621 2830
Website: www.mastersofwine.org

Lantra, Lantra House, Stoneleigh Park,
Coventry, Warwickshire CV8 2LG
Tel: 02476 696996
Website: www.lantra.co.uk

Plumpton College, Ditchling Road,
Plumpton, Lewes, East Sussex BN7 3AE
Tel: 01273 890454
Website: www.plumpton.ac.uk

University of Brighton, Mithras House,
Lewes Road, Brighton BN2 4AT
Tel: 01273 600900
Website: www.brighton.ac.uk

Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET),
International Wine & Spirit Centre,
39-45 Bermondsey Street, London SE1 3XF
Tel: 020 7089 3800
Website: www.wset.co.uk

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