Do you have a passion for wines, creative and marketing skills, and like serving people? If yes, a career as a Winemaker might be ideal for you.
Winemakers plan, oversee, and coordinate the wine production from chosen varieties of grapes. They work with viticulturists who look after the planting and cultivation of grapes.
To become a winemaker in Australia, you must complete a VET qualification or bachelor's degree in viticulture, oenology, wine chemistry, wine evaluation, or wine science. Having a work experience in the wine industry is an added advantage.
Knowing the Wine Maker profession is essential when pursuing this career. This blog discusses the winemaker job description, required skills, winemaker courses, average salary, work conditions, and a lot more to help you make an impactful start.
1. What Is A Wine Maker?
Winemakers, also called "oenologists," use their expert knowledge of the wine sciences and viticulture (grape cultivation) to produce wine.
They oversee the different stages in the winemaking process, including harvesting, pressing, crushing, fermentation, clarification, ageing, and bottling.
Winemakers are trained to use a scientific approach to determine the quality and "drinkability" of wines for consumers, which involves assessing their sweetness, acidity, sulfite, and sulfur levels and ensuring their top-value handling and care.
Many experienced winemakers specialize in the research and development of wine.
2. What Does A Wine Maker Do?
The duties of a winemaker depend on the stage of wine production and the time of year. In general, they perform the following tasks:
Grow grapes that are suitable for winemaking.
Examine fruit samples to evaluate their ripeness, acid content, and sugar to determine appropriateness for processing
Apply scientific theories to the winemaking process
Crush the ripe grapes to produce wine
Filter the wine to remove solids from it
Blend different varieties of wine as per the knowledge of winemaking techniques to make a new product
Conduct lab and taste tests on the wine for quality
Direct workers in fortifying, clarifying, finishing wines, and fermenting juices
Supervise the wine production process
Coordinate the packing and delivery of finished wine
Liaise with sales and marketing teams to ensure production meets the market demands and buyers to sell wine
Offer advice on proper handling and conservation of grape samples and the wine production
Work closely with viticulturists to cultivate and produce grapes and manage planting programs
Store the wine in a tank and casks for maturation
Monitor the storage and bottling of the wine, including its hygiene and temperatures
Test the quality of finished wine and ensure the quality is maintained at the time of storing in bottles
Conduct and lead wine tastings events and represent the organization at the local/regional level
Control inventory and devise creative solutions to deal with shortages
Identify wine flavours and suggest ideas to enhance production
Conduct on-the-job training for cellar staff
Lead wine tours, and advise tourists about different aspects of wine
3. Winemaker Skills
Being a winemaker isn’t a glamorous job and demands long days, persistence to handle Mother Nature, devotion to hygiene, and attention to detail.
Though the official wine season is for only two months a year, winemakers work throughout the year carrying out business activities such as fermentation, bottling, ageing, sales, and marketing.
Here are the desirable job skills to work in this role:
Passion for wine
Excellent sense of smell and taste
Knowledge of grapes and fermentation processes
Able to analyze and solve issues
Able to make a precise observation
Excellent attention to detail
Good interpersonal and communication skills
An interest in marketing, sales, and finance
Physical fitness to do hard physical work for long hours
A background in chemistry
Willing to stay aware of industry developments and adhere to essential regulations and procedures
Planning, managerial, and organization skills to lead a production team and manage different aspects of wine-making
Initiative and enterprise
Strong practical skills
4. Winemaker Qualifications In Australia
There are no formal prerequisites to becoming a winemaker. However, most practising Winemakers hold a qualification in viticulture and oenology.
Here is how to qualify for this role:
Gain your Senior Secondary Certificate of Education in one or more prerequisite subjects such as English, chemistry, and mathematics.
Complete a Certificate III in Wine Industry Operations, such as a Bachelor of Viticulture or Oenology, Wine, Wine Science, or a Diploma of Viticulture, to gain practical knowledge and build work experience.
Those interested in advancing their studies can undertake a relevant postgraduate qualification in oenology.
5. Steps To Become A Winemaker In Australia
Follow the below steps to start your winemaking career:
Step 1: Take A Short Winemaking Course
Start by taking a short course that gives you a general overview of the profession, the work environment, and the daily duties of the job. It is a great way to discover whether this profession aligns with your career aspirations.
Short Course Introduction To Winemaking - Melbourne Polytechnic
The course teaches the basics of winemaking - grape composition, wine styles, the process of wine production, wine quality testing, etc. This beginner course is for everyone interested in winemaking, wanting to pursue a Wine Maker career or enhance their knowledge.
Step 2: Work As An Intern
An internship is a great opportunity to get a taste of wine work and realize whether wine work is for you. It is better to gain experience on the job before enrolling in expensive and lengthy training or educational programs.
When working as an intern, you meet with like-minded people and industry professionals that further help your career growth. Other benefits you can get during a winemaker apprenticeship include accommodation, meals, and stipends.
Start by contacting a winery to find any openings for harvest internships. Alternatively, you can look to work on an organic farm, obtain seasonal or temporary positions in winemaking regions, or volunteer to gain experience.
Step 3: Study For Professional Wine Making Courses
If you like the role and are interested in pursuing it as a career, then take the next step by completing relevant viticulture courses. It is the ideal way to prepare to work in this role.
Large corporate wineries usually recruit staff with technical and science backgrounds or industry-specific degrees capable of creating market-ready and shelf-stable products.
You can find VET courses and degree programs to learn the basics of Wine Making and develop practical skills to work with accuracy and confidence.
Consider the following best viticulture courses in Australia to take your wine-making career to the next level:
Certificate III in Wine Operation describes the knowledge and skills required for operational workers to perform skilled tasks in a range of sectors, such as:
Technical and procedural tasks in cellar operations
Bottling and packaging
Customer service activities in the cellar door
Wine grape cultivation, harvesting, and post-harvesting
This viticulture degree online provides you with specialized knowledge in viticulture.
You learn to manage the end-to-end winemaking process involving grape production, crop and soil management, irrigation design and maintenance, testing wine, and budgets.
The degree gives you an understanding of how vineyard operations relate to wine quality.
You gain competence in each stage in the winemaking process and the ability to form independent decisions and manage operations in a commercial winery while adhering to OH&S guidelines.
This undergraduate degree offers theoretical and practical training in winemaking, viticulture, wine appraisal, and wine science.
You learn specialist business skills such as accounting, marketing, and management to set up and run your own wine business.
Learn to use your creative business skills and apply scientific knowledge to develop wines with this professional qualification.
The course teaches about different aspects of the wine industry, such as wine chemistry, wine sensory, and wine production techniques, which develops a strong base in chemistry, plant science, and microbiology that supports your wine science studies.
It is among the highly recommended oenology courses to prepare for a Wine Maker profession in the Australian wine-making industry.
Working in “on-campus vineyards”, you learn the latest techniques and technologies to cultivate wine grapes and produce wine while focusing on natural and sustainable practices.
You get an opportunity to develop practical skills via an internship in oenology or viticulture. Graduates of the course can work as fully trained viticulturists or winemakers and manage their winery or vineyard.
6. Working Conditions For A Winemaker
Winemakers usually work in large wineries in temperature-controlled areas to supervise the technical aspects of the business.
In small wineries, they are responsible for the entire winemaking process, which includes cultivating grapes, bottling, and selling finished wine.
Working in this industry involves seasonal work. The peak activity periods (mostly at a vintage time during autumn) depend on the grape growing schedule and their employer. Winemakers may require to work for extended working hours during these peak periods.
As the job involves spending a lot of time outdoors and doing tasks such as pressing and crushing grapes, pruning, and soil sampling, you need to have the physical stamina to perform these tasks efficiently.
As an entry-level winemaker, you will do a lot of cleaning work, including cleaning tanks, barrels, floors and dragging bins, hoses, and buckets.
Full-time Winemakers generally work the standard number of hours a week and may require shift work 24*7, including on weekends and nights, monitoring the winemaking process. While at work, they must wear protective and safety equipment.
7. Winemaker Jobs In Australia
Winemakers work in wineries as most wineries prefer to have their in-house team of workers.
Most winemaker jobs exist in NSW, South Australia, and Victoria, although there are some employment opportunities in Western Australia, Queensland, and Tasmania.
Winemakers often run and manage their vineyards and wineries. They may open them to public tours and tastings and take on extra duties such as research, logistics, and marketing.
Some work in a laboratory setting to develop sustainable and innovative Winemaking methods and new blends and strains for other brands.
The most common job roles include:
Supervisor or foreperson
Grape liaison officer
Grape purchasing officer
Viticultural technical officer
8. Career Path For Winemakers
Winemakers usually start their career as assistant winemakers or cellar associates and gradually work their way up to becoming head winemakers.
After gaining substantial experience (5+ years) within the wine-making industry, they can work as consultants to different wineries of varying sizes, specialize in a specific field within the wine industry, or establish and run their winery/vineyard.
9. How Much Does A Winemaker Make In Australia?
The winemaker’s salary in Australia varies based on their education, geography, experience, and the company they work for. According to Pay Scale, the average salary for a Winemaker is AU$76,530 per year or an hourly AU$35.10.
By gaining more experience, the earning potential increases more than new entrants into the industry.
Early career Winemakers (1-4 years of experience): AU$64,111
Mid-career Winemakers (5-9 years of experience): AU$71,182
Experienced Winemakers (10-19 years of experience): AU$77,772
10. Job Prospects Of Winemakers In Australia
ANZSCO Occupation Group: 234213 Wine Makers
Winemaking is a fine blend of art, science, and craft. As most Aussies prefer to consume it with their meals, there will always be demand for winemakers with good winemaking skills.
According to Labour Market Insights, job opportunities for Winemakers stayed steady over the last five years. Future demand in this profession looks optimistic and stable. Opportunities in Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing, and Manufacturing are expected.
Currently, around 1,700 Winemakers in Australia work in areas that have suitable winemaking conditions, such as New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, and Western Australia.
Around 85% of full-time Wine Makers work an average of 47 hours a week at work. (All other jobs average: 44 hours per week)
Major Industries Of Employment
Agriculture, Forestry, And Fishing: 4.2%
Retail Trade: 2.4%
Professional, Scientific, And Technical Services: 1.0%
Other Industries: 2.9%
Percentage of Employment across Australia
South Australia has the highest share of employment.
New South Wales: 15.4%
South Australia: 38.8%
Western Australia: 11.6%
Northern Territory: 0.0%
Australian Capital Territory: 1.1%
Worker’s Age and Gender profile
The average age of employed workers in this profession is 42 years, with most of them between 35-44 years. (All other jobs average: 40 years).
Females occupy around 20% of the workforce, which is 28 percentage points below the average of all other jobs, 48%.
We hope you have found the above information helpful in preparing for the Winemaker profession in Australia.
Working in this career is a great way to relish your passion for wines while earning a decent salary.
By gaining experience and mastering your skills, you can make a successful, exciting, and meaningful career in winemaking.
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