Balanced, earthy, full-bodied, round, smooth, structured… There are countless ways to describe your favourite wines. And there are even more types of wines to try in Ontario!
Did you know that Ontario has over 17,000 acres of grapes (roughly the size of Cleveland, Ohio) and 175 registered wineries? Behind the scenes, a lot of people work on bottling, corking, and capping each label. Not to mention the professionals who grow the grapes, inspect the quality, and market the finished product.
If you are looking for a stable career in the food and beverage industry with a good sense of job security, take a look at your options in the wine industry.
A world of job opportunities
Start off as a wine cellar hand and work your way up to become a winemaker or shift your direction to work on the vineyard. According to Wine Growers Ontario, more than 18,000 jobs in Ontario created as a result of the wine and grape industry. If you are looking for a stable job, the wine industry may be a good option to consider.
There is so much to learn about
Even if you don’t have a formal education, you can learn a lot in this industry. Employers often do not require a degree for a career in winemaking. However, if you want to be a winemaker in the future, you can enroll in the following programs: viticulture, enology, horticulture, food science, or wine science.
Meet other wine enthusiasts
Although there are many passionate people in the food industry, this is especially true in the wine industry. Many wineries are family-owned businesses that truly enjoy what they do. It is a rewarding experience because you get to meet people from all over the world. Working on a vineyard is not considered “work” by those in this industry, but rather a way of life.
Want to learn more about winemaking in Ontario? Read the story of Levi De Lorin, a brand winemaker for Jackson-Triggs Niagara Estate Winery.
Jobs in the wine industry
Cellar Workers/ Harvest Help
If you enjoy working with your hands, this is the perfect job for you! Harvest hands help the Cellarmaster with production activities such as crushing, fermentation, clarification, ageing, blending, and bottling. It is a fantastic opportunity for people to learn about what happens behind the scenes in the winemaking process.
Quality Control/ Quality Assurance
Store employees are the last people to touch a bottle of wine before the customer sees it. Many people make their living solely by serving or selling wine. Restaurants and retail stores must staff evening and weekend tasting events, and restaurants must hire servers and bartenders who can make wine recommendations. People who work in-store must have excellent customer service skills as well as the ability to multitask.
How to get started with a job at a vineyard
- If you want to work in the wine industry, begin by working as a cellar hand. Target a list of wineries in a region of interest and write personalized emails asking them to work into their wine yard.
- If you want to work in sales, start your search in wine retail. Learn about local wine stores and apply for a retail job. This is a fantastic opportunity to learn about the characteristics of wine from the perspective of a consumer and what is important to them.
- Network! Let everyone know that you are interested in the wine industry.
- There are many schools that offer degrees in winery and viticulture. For example, Niagara College in Ontario, Canada, offers a winery and viticulture degree and courses such as “Introduction to Wine Chemistry” and “Vineyard Pruning and Maintenance Practices.”