There’s good news if you’re searching for a wine industry job: No matter your experience level, there’s a job in the industry that might be a fit for you. From wine production to retail and sales to distribution and supply to hospitality, the wine industry encompasses roles with countless skill sets and areas of expertise.
What’s more: The wine industry is primed for growth in 2024, and it’s an excellent field for job seekers looking to gain specialized knowledge. Working in a winery gives you access to production work, food safety procedures, and business operations, so even if you leave the wine industry down the road, you’ll have a diverse and transferable list of skills and experiences.
If you’re looking to get into the wine industry, California is the place to go: The Golden State produces almost 80% of the country’s wine. Most wine production is concentrated in the North Coast, which includes Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino, Lake, Solano, and Marin Counties. (There are also the Central Coast, Central Valley, and South Coast — each with its own style and flavors.) And take it from us at Star Staffing: We love our state, and it’s a beautiful and welcoming place to live, work, and call home.
While the wine industry encompasses hundreds of jobs, we zeroed in on six positions that cover all aspects of the wine-making process. Our list of wine industry jobs includes seasonal work, junior-level roles with room for growth, and leadership positions. Some require a college degree, some require a GED, some require specialized skills and licenses, and some require no experience whatsoever.
Here are 6 jobs in the wine industry and what you need to get them, including skills, languages, degrees, and certifications.
1. Cellar Master
Integral to the work in any winery, a cellar master both manages workflow and maintains the winery’s quality and food safety standards.
What does a cellar master do?
Typically, a cellar master reports to a winemaker (or assistant winemaker), and the job requires the ability to manage operations and act as a team leader. Cellar masters lead the day-to-day of the cellar staff (along with supervising the harvest), and it’s a role that requires organizing and training labor, too. The cellar master develops both seasonal and full-time production staff, supervises both tank and barrel wine tasks, organizes and manages inventory, keeps an eye on production equipment to meet safety standards, and manages samples. With a special focus on safety, the cellar master typically coordinates with EH&S safety managers, implements food safety protocols, and monitors waste reporting and processes.
What you need to get a cellar master job
Most cellar master jobs require 1-2 years of experience in a winery, and a bachelor’s degree is preferred but not required. If you’re working in California, conversational Spanish is a real plus as well as the requisite solid command of English. You’ll need to have a firm grasp of data organization, so familiarity with spreadsheets, charts, and graphs is a necessity. You’ll also likely need a forklift license.
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2. Vineyard Manager
This leadership role manages the overall operations of a vineyard with a special eye toward safety.
What does a vineyard manager do?
A vineyard manager keeps an eye on the vineyard’s equipment to identify any necessary repairs, and you can expect to do some light equipment maintenance, too. Basic vineyard repairs will fall under your umbrella, like repairing trellises, replacing poles, maintaining irrigation, clearing filters, managing leaks, and winterizing systems. And here’s a critical element: You’ll have to attend seminars on an ongoing basis to keep your safety license active.
You’ll manage the vineyard’s spray program, ground work, and fertility program, and you’ll source the vineyard’s plant material. You’ll also assist with certifications, sampling, reporting, and more.
What you need to get a vineyard manager job
You’ll need to know how and be licensed to drive a tractor, and most vineyard manager jobs require at least five years of vineyard experience. Most importantly, you’ll need food safety and quality licenses, which vary by state, and remember that you’ll have to keep them active through ongoing continuing education.
3. Bottling Line Associate
Perfect for someone new to the industry, a bottling line associate is critical to production.
What does a bottling line associate do?
A bottling associate moves between multiple stations to carry out the general production work of the winery: You’ll rotate between dumping stations, foiling stations, packing stations, stacking stations, and the bottling line. You’ll also help out with inspections for quality control. It’s repetitive work, so people who can focus — and even get themselves into a flow state are great candidates.
What you need to get a bottling line associate job
This is a job where you’ll be on your feet for long periods, and you’ll need to be able to lift and carry up to 50 pounds. Ideally, you’ll have some experience on the bottling line, but it’s not required and this role is a great fit for people looking to break into the industry. You also likely have some transferable skills, like working in a warehouse, grocery store, or hospitality service.
4. Winery Maintenance Mechanic
When something goes wrong at a winery and production screeches to a halt, the winery maintenance mechanic gets things back on track.
What does a winery maintenance mechanic do?
A winery maintenance mechanic is there to handle equipment issues when they arise. Your work will include general troubleshooting when equipment fails, but you’ll equally focus on preventative maintenance of bottling equipment, like fillers, corkers, cappers, labelers, palletizers, bottle conveyors, and more. You’ll also have a hand in bottling line setup and operation — and you’re likely to manage the installation of the winery’s equipment.
What you need to get a winery maintenance mechanic job
A job as a winery maintenance mechanic requires a strong understanding of PLC systems and controls alongside the technical skills and knowledge of a general mechanic. You’ll need a special understanding of winery and bottling equipment, too. There are physical requirements, too: You’ll need to be able to climb ladders and stairs, stay standing for long periods, and lift 50 pounds.
5. Shipping and Customer Management Associate
A job with tons of room for growth. A shipping and customer management associate at a winery acts as a bridge between winery production and the consumer.
What does a shipping and customer management associate do?
A shipping and customer management associate wears tons of hats. You’ll have your hand in everything from shipping systems management to administrative support to customer management. Shipping and customer man organize shipping and fulfillment for winner orders, reconcile inventory, coordinate pick-ups with customers, and oversee shipping compliance. You’ll likely maintain the winery’s CRM system and manage customer data, and you’ll develop and maintain relationships with the winery’s customers. (You’ll also vet potential customers to help grow the winery’s consumer base.) Finally, you’ll provide administrative support to the winery, including creating invoices, providing reports, and managing supplies.
What you need to get a shipping and customer management associate job
Like any customer-facing job, you’ll need stellar communications skills. Also, most wineries prefer candidates with experience shipping wine — or in hospitality in general. You’ll need to know your way around spreadsheets, and ideally, you’ll have a working knowledge of eCellar, FedEx Ship Manager, and Ship Compliant. Some wineries will require a BA or BS.
6. Warehouse Associate
A warehouse associate is a physical job that requires tons of focus. It’s perfect for job seekers with heavy machinery experience.
What does a warehouse associate do?
As a warehouse associate in a winery, you’ll likely unload pallet/floor-loaded inbound containers. You will also receive and label products via a Warehouse Management System (WMS) using handheld RF equipment, move products around to various locations within the winery, and participate in managing and counting inventory. Like all winery jobs, safety will be a major focus, and you’ll be on the lookout for any safety issues or hazards that might arise.
What you need to get a warehouse associate job
You’ll need a high school diploma or GED, and ideally, you’re a certified forklift operator. (If you’re not already certified, it helps if you can commit to getting certified.) You’ll need familiarity with a variety of equipment, like pallet jacks, forklifts, cherry pickers, reach trucks, RF devices, voice pick systems, and office equipment (including computer/printer, fax, photocopier, calculator, and telephone).