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The Odd, the Obscure, and the Unique Jobs of the Wine Industry

Meghan Fitzgerald

Wine Industry Jobs

Water Into Wine

“Don’t you know what I do for a living?”

If asked this question by a member of the wine industry, don’t be surprised if the answer is something other than ‘sommelier’. Similar to the product, the selection of jobs, professions, and gigs which revolve around the wine trade are suited to taste, offering a variety of roles for a variety of qualified people. From vineyard to table, in the cellar, in the tasting room, and even at home, wine professionals are hard at work at all hours of every day for the purpose of translating passion into profit, by means both obvious and obscure.

Gold Medal Wine Club is no exception, serving as an enological source with the aim to inform, entertain, and engage our members and readers by offering great wine for our members and a good word for our readers.

In this spirit, we encourage you, intrepid reader, to open up one of those bottles from your wine club shipment and enjoy a glass as you read on to discover the obscure, the unique, and, most importantly, the necessary work involved in making that favorite glass possible.

Someone's hand writes wine tasting notes with red wine glass and decanter on table

Wine Writing Careers

Words Into Wine

As evidenced by this particular article, as well as the other blog pieces that can be found on the Gold Medal Wine Club website and the newsletters included in your wine shipments, writing for wine is an established profession in the business, a fact for which I am most thankful.

While this sector of the industry is neither significantly odd nor especially obscure, it is often misunderstood by those outside of the industry and even inside of it.

So, what is wine writing?

In a word - or several - writing for wine is a form of marketing in the industry, encompassing everything from travel articles to competition reviews to the back labels on wine bottles. There are degrees and courses available to aspiring writers of the industry designed to introduce categories, formats, and concepts specific to writing for wine as well as provide an environment for writers to polish skills and hone talent.

Much of the work involved in writing for wine is classified as ‘freelance’ or ‘contributing’, meaning that the writer submits pieces to any number of employers and for any number of forums at his or her discretion. Conversely, a staff writer is employed as a permanent employee of a specific employer. Professional permanence is not usual for members of the industry who write for wine, however, these individuals oftentimes have what is known both within the industry and out as a ‘day job’ to supplement their time and income between writing jobs.

A wine cooper hammers a metal ring on a wine barrel

Cooperage Jobs

Wood Into Wine

Before the glass...

Before the bottle...

...there was the barrel.

Unless, of course, the wine was aged in stainless steel, but as the following information concerns itself with the profession of cooperage, we will save alternative wine aging methods for another article.

To begin, a definition of cooperage.

Cooperage is simply the act of making barrels, which is an essential, if not often overlooked, job which keeps the wine flowing and the party going. In other words, this ancient art - we will call it the second oldest profession - is a necessary component of the industry, particularly the winemaking sector of the industry.

Coopers are craftsmen - and craftswomen - first and foremost, designing and constructing barrels for the purpose of not only holding wine but also of contributing to the wine’s eventual flavor profile once out of barrel. The oak, the options of which include American, French, Hungarian, and Russian barrels, selected by the cooper to construct the barrel, and the time the wine sits within the sheltered confines of that barrel, profoundly influence the chemical structure of the produced wine, which in turn affects the wine’s texture, aroma, and taste. For wine, to age is to take on the qualities every wine enthusiast has come to appreciate - dare I say love - about any given variety.

To remain young forever might be a fantasy for a human person, but there is no Neverland for a good wine.

A hand pours a glass of red wine

Wine Teachers and Professors

Wisdom Into Wine

Whoever said ‘those who can’t do, teach’, obviously never took a course in enology, viticulture, or wine hospitality. More often than not, the instructors of the courses related to the wine industry are the so-called doers, the innovators, and the ones who risked working in a field that hadn’t yet been cultivated, let alone surveyed or even considered plowable at a first glance.

As interest in the wine industry has picked up, certain members of the very same industry have stepped away from respective professions and jobs to educate the next wave of prospective vineyard workers, cellar masters, and tasting room managers. Lessons are taught in the field and on the job through field trips, internships, and hands-on assignments which include tending vines, participating in harvest, and working as associates in tasting rooms and during events. The teachers of the wine trade not only present the theories but demonstrate the practical aspect of the industry because they are and have been professionals in the industry.

More Wine Jobs

Work into Wine

There you have it.

The wine industry goes far beyond growing, mixing, and tasting. The trade is multifaceted and constantly evolving - aging, perhaps - so that new professions and gigs are considered daily to be legitimate and essential jobs of the trade.

The following is additional work relevant and necessary to the making and marketing of wine you might be interested in researching or perhaps even taking up yourself:

  1. Irrigation Professionals

  2. Wine Distributors

  3. Cellar Rat / Cellar Master

  4. Vineyard Tech

  5. Vineyard Irrigation

  6. Harvest Coordinator

  7. Wine Curator

  8. Harvest Lab Technician

  9. Bottling Line Driver

  10. Grape Samplers

  11. ETS Laboratory Specialists

  12. Wine Accessory Merchandisers


Meghan Fitzgerald Author Bio Picture Author Bio: Meghan ‘Fitzy’ Fitzgerald is a recent graduate of enology and viticulture from the Institute for Enology and Viticulture in Walla Walla Washington and currently works as a contributing author for the wine marketing industry with a focus in content writing. She continues to write feature pieces for Gold Medal Wine Club as she works toward establishing herself as a professional writer within the wine industry.