When you think of wine production, do you picture a French guy jumping into a bucket of grapes, stomping the juice out of them with his feet?
The wine industry in Canada is a $6.8-billion industry, responsible for 31,000 jobs in manufacturing, agriculture, tourism, transportation, research, restaurants, and retail. Essentially, having that glass of red each day is allowing thousands of people prosperous careers.
There are a lot of different roles, says James Cluer, founder of Wine Jobs Canada. People can work from the production side, often in a new position as a so-called cellar hand: someone who's just working in the winery helping with all kinds of production tasks. There are also jobs in sales and marketing. Then you have sales, you have a ton of retailers, distributors, importers. Essentially, there is a job for everyone, if you want in.
There are several avenues to get into the field, the most direct being an education in wine. At Brock University's Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute, for example, students can obtain a bachelor of science in oenology and viticulture, a four-year bachelor of science that gives a student a tremendous foundation in wine production and distribution.
They would take wine chemistry, wine microbiology, grape wine biology, cultural practices'a course that involves different practical procedures that can be done in vineyards to maximize the levels of the grapes, says Gail Higenell, senior laboratory demonstrator and OEVI advisor, academic and admissions. There's reevaluation of wines, introduction to wines, wine equipment and processing, among many other courses. There's also a mandatory co-op program consisting of three work terms in different parts of the industry, allowing students to get a foot in the door and determine which area of wine is for them.
Within six months in the field, 97 per cent of grads find employment, in wine regions all over the world. There are also master's and PhD programs in both oenology (the study of wine making) and viticulture (the study of grape growing), in case a student wants even more expertise. Higenell notes that wineries are crying out for trained people to employ, not only in Niagara, but in BC, Quebec, Halifax, and around the world.
Cluer also started a company called Fine Vintage Limited, offering in-person full-day courses to the general public, to beef up their wine resum├®. If you pass the exam, you receive a formal certificate from the Wine and Spirit Education Trust in the UK, he says. These courses are quick, affordable, and would only add to a connoisseur's expertise.
There are plenty of reasons to dive in to wine, so to speak. It's a very friendly, very social industry, says Cluer. It's very dynamic. Things are constantly changing. And it's worldwide.
For many, a career in wine is taking something they love and building a life around that. It's great to be able to enjoy a glass of wine'in moderation, of course'as part of your career, or part of your industry.