How to Become a Winemaker
- Author Nancy Whitman
- Published November 11, 2019
- Word count 683
Winemaking requires expert knowledge of grape planting, cultivation and picking. When all three of these steps have been mastered, it’s the responsibility of winemakers to oversee the manner and timing of how the grapes are squashed, ripened, mixed and bottled. Astute winemakers will have an understanding of the science behind winemaking, as well as the science behind the growing and harvesting of grapes. Some winemakers seek to have a hand in the advertising and commercialisation of their wine products, in which case they may need to obtain formal qualifications in this area as well.
The following is a list of 3 key ingredients to becoming a prosperous winemaker.
- Understand the fundamentals of winemaking
A winemaker is responsible for a whole multitude of different roles, such as:
Identifying the correct time to pick the grapes (based on ripeness, bitterness and moisture levels)
Controlling the collection of grapes and delivering them to retailers and local wineries
Oversee the squashing of grapes
Calculating the right quantity of sulphites and sugar to add
Utilise containers and siphons to ripen the wine before transporting it to barrels to begin the aging process
Ensure equipment remains in proper working order
Inspect and maintain heat regulation devices
Supervise and mentor lab personnel who are tasked with sampling the wine to measure its chemical balance and bitterness and whose responsibility it is to determine when the wine can be bottled
As the chemical balance of the wine is altered, it’s the job of the winemaker to calculate the appropriate time for it to be packaged. Getting this right is crucial to the quality of the wine.
Becoming a winemaker or wine of the month club owner, demands a considerable amount of expertise across a number of disciplines and isn’t for just anyone. As well as having a depth of knowledge surrounding wine and the many different types, a winemaker must have a lofty awareness of the entire winemaking procedure from beginning to end, along with the numerous ways in which it can be modified to produce unique styles of wine.
A successful career in winemaking requires a great deal of patience, a meticulous eye for fine details, while possessing a sound comprehension of the various scientific factors involved in winemaking.
- Gain proper skills and conventional knowledge
In years gone by, making wine didn’t require any real degree of academic knowledge. It was treated more as a simple art form that was handed down through the ages via internships or by gradually acquiring further skills by employment in a vineyard or such. Thankfully, there are now dedicated courses and curriculum that provide an excellent foundation and introduction to the skillset required to carve out a successful career as a winemaker. While winemaking has no compulsory skills that must be learned, there a number of academic courses available to assist those who seek to become profitable winemakers.
As well as proper knowledge of the established skills and techniques of winemaking, budding winemakers must understand the different laws and regulations that must be adhered to when creating their wines. These laws vary from region to region throughout the world, so wine that is permissible to be sold in one country, may be illegal in another.
- Establish your wine’s identity and acquire industry contacts
During your initial years as a winemaker, your knowledge and qualifications are typically going to be the only two tangible assets on your CV. Doing an internship is an ideal strategy for establishing your wine’s unique qualities. Thankfully, jobs and internships at local wineries are often in high supply during the wine crop period, as they hastily try and get and as many workers as they can to pick the grapes.
Developing a strong list of industry contacts is instrumental in to getting your breakthrough as a future winemaker. The wine industry is known to be quite intimate, so it’s imperative that you impress your superiors. If attending one of the accredited winemaking courses on offer, seeking a mentorship with faculty is an excellent way to improve your chances at obtaining employment down the road.
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