Wine Jobs Outside of the Traditional Winery Career
Written by Alyson Aiello on May 26, 2017
You’re not just someone who likes wine.
You frequently get text messages saying, “Hey, I’m picking up a bottle of wine for girls’ night—what should I get?” An hour later … “What do you think I should serve it with?”
Yep, your friends say you are their go-to pal for wine pairings and recommendations.
Once or twice, someone may have even mentioned that you should work in the wine industry—after all, wine is big business these days. But you not only enjoy wine, you understand wine; and it’s got you wondering if this could be something you could do for a real job.
Well, guess what: You don’t have to live in Napa Valley, France, or Spain to have a wine job. There are plenty of opportunities for you all around the country—even some from home! Take a look at these 10 wine jobs that may help you break into the wine industry and live your passion.
1. Wine Label Designer
If you’re a designer with a mind for marketing who loves kerning and leading as much as you love Cabernet Sauvignon, then what better job for you than to design wine labels? Companies like Affinity Creative hire talented folks to do just that.
2. Wine Namer
When I was a child, I always wanted to be one of the lucky people who named (and, of course, also got to eat) ice cream. I feel like being someone who names wines is the grown-up version of that—who wouldn’t want that privilege? If you can come up with clever names and ensure that they will pass muster with the USPTO (United States Patent & Trademark Office) you could create a very valuable asset that could be sold to wineries.
3. Wine Writer
- Wine Description Writers: Every wine has a descriptor—“notes of cherry, stone fruit,” etc.—and it takes an educated professional to be able to clearly, accurately, and eloquently describe a wine. If you have the gift of writing as well as a palate for wine, then this may be a wine job for you. Typically, wine writers are journalists who have spent many years studying and refining their palate in order to specialize in wine. As this article from Wine & Spirit Education Trust says, “The difference between reading content from a writer with no palate training and one with is apparent extremely quickly.”
- Wine Writers & Bloggers: Wine bloggers and freelance wine writers are typically food and wine bloggers who are enthusiasts; many of them even earn specialized certifications in their quest to become the best writers possible. Wine bloggers and writers are people who are passionate experts who love everything about wine, and they can do particularly well in terms of earning potential.
4. Wine Judge
If you think you really know your stuff, consider becoming a wine judge. This wine job can be either paid or unpaid. If you’re experienced enough, you may eventually be paid to judge events. There are many certifications available for those who wish to be a wine judge, including the American Wine Society Wine Judge Certification Program and the International Wine & Spirits Guild Certified & Senior Wine Judge course.
If you love wine, have an extensive knowledge of it, and desire to serve wine in restaurants, you may want to consider becoming a sommelier. There are two major types of sommeliers:
- Sommelier: To be called a “sommelier,” you don’t have to follow any set path—essentially, this title simply means you can pour wine in a restaurant or a similar setting. But you can’t simply walk into a restaurant and be a sommelier—“most employers will want you to show that you have passed competency examinations administered by one of the many organizations for professional sommeliers” (Betty’s Wine Musings).
- Master Sommelier: The Master Sommelier title is “the highest distinction a professional can attain in fine wine and beverage service. Testing is focused on the areas needed for superior beverage department management, which include Tasting, Theory, Service, and also encompasses spirits, beers, as well as global wine knowledge” (The Court of Master Sommeliers Americas). To obtain this prestigious wine job, you must study and pass rigorous courses. There are only about 200 Master Sommeliers in the world. There are two widely recognized schools for sommelier certification: the Wine & Spirits Education Trust (WSET) or the Court of Master Sommeliers (CMS). The WSET track focuses on the academic side, and the CMS track focuses on wine service (Wine on VI).
6. Wine Director
Similar to a sommelier, a wine director in a restaurant chooses wine options. However, instead of choosing pairings for individuals, wine directors choose the wine & potential wine pairings for entire restaurants.
7. Wine Marketer
There are many tiers of wine jobs available in the wine marketing world. Here’s a look at a few wine jobs that involve marketing skills:
- Winery Salesperson: Wine companies need good, knowledgeable salespeople to sell their products. Salespeople at wineries can sell their products to wholesalers.
- Wine Distributor Salesperson: Another wine job option is a salesperson who works for a wholesaler or a distributor and sells wine to retailers.
- Wine Demonstrator: You could also consider being a wine demonstrator (also called a sampling representative). These wine jobs are usually at retail stores or wineries; demonstrators work from tasting counters and provide samples.
- Wine Agent: In some parts of the U.S., wine agents are hired independently to represent brands. These freelancers sell wine to wholesalers and retailers.
8. Wine Retail Store Clerk
Many upscale wine and liquor stores have wine jobs for store directors and clerks. Typically, this type of job is not dependent on certifications; often, these positions are filled by knowledgeable employees who work their way up by learning about wine culture.
9. Wine & Travel Jobs
For wine aficionados who love to travel, there are many avenues for wine jobs. From winery tour guides, to wine tour guides that specialize in specific areas, to wine bicycle tour companies, if you are interested in combining a love for travel with a love for wine, there may be an interesting job waiting just for you!
10. Wine Guide
If you’re looking for a non-winery wine job that allows you to be immersed in the world of wine and gives you an unparalleled opportunity to become an entrepreneur, then you should consider becoming a Traveling Vineyard Wine Guide. By making a business decision to become a Wine Guide, you’re opening the door to a career with five unmistakable rewards:
- Fun: This one’s obvious—you already love wine, so why not take that passion and share it with friends and people who will become friends? Wine Guides go to tastings and talk about wine, meet interesting people, and more.
- Flexibility: Wine guides set their own schedules. You get to decide how many events you’ll take on, so you never have to compromise things like family time, vacations, or even your full-time job.
- Fulfillment: Whether you’re up for a new challenge, a way to contribute to your family, or some “me time,” becoming a Wine Guide is a fun way to push your limits and achieve your goals.
- Friendship: Wine Guides are part of a strong team of people who care about each member’s success. And that’s just the beginning! In addition to meeting other Wine Guides, you’ll have an opportunity to meet new and interesting friends at all of your tasting events.
- Financial reward: This one’s the most obvious benefit of all—you can bring in a little extra money (say, as a way to make your car payment or save for a vacation) or a lot of money (if you want to replace your full-time career). It’s up to you, and there’s no ceiling for how much you can earn!
If making a business decision to become an entrepreneur sounds like an opportunity you don’t want to miss out on, you can get started here learning a little bit more about Traveling Vineyard.
So, how do these opportunities sound to you? Did we miss any wine jobs you think we should feature? Just leave a comment below, and you may see your suggestion featured in an upcoming article.