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Winemaker

Kaihanga Waina

Alternative titles for this job

Winemakers make wine from grapes and other fruit.

Pay

Cellar hands and assistant winemakers usually earn

$39K to $112K per year

Winemakers and chief winemakers usually earn

$112K-$182K per year

Source: New Zealand Wine, 2019.

Job opportunities

Chances of getting a job as a winemaker are average for those wanting to enter the role, but good for those with experience.

Pay

Pay for winemakers varies depending on experience, the type of work they do and the size of the winery and its region.

  • Unqualified cellar hands usually earn from $39,000 to $46,000 a year.  
  • Qualified cellar hands usually earn from $46,000 to $72,000.
  • Assistant winemakers usually earn from $72,000 to $112,000.
  • Winemakers can earn between $112,000 and $120,000.
  • Chief winemakers, who manage teams of winemakers, can earn between $120,000 and $182,000.

Winemakers who buy into wineries and vineyards can increase their income.

Source: New Zealand Wine, 2019.

(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our pay information)

What you will do

Winemakers may do some or all of the following:

  • discuss fruit quality and quantity with grape growers (viticulturists) throughout the growing season
  • develop new wine styles and improve the wine quality
  • process grapes to make wine
  • control fermentation and adjust wines as needed
  • ensure legal standards and specifications are met, such as alcohol level requirements in New Zealand or the country of export
  • filter, bottle and package the wine for sale
  • maintain winemaking equipment and machinery
  • manage winery workers
  • use software to track grape health and growth 
  • record procedures, blends and inventories
  • market and sell wine.

Skills and knowledge

Winemakers need to have knowledge of:

  • different wine styles and varieties
  • winery and vineyard technology and tracking software
  • wine-related science, such as chemistry, biology and microbiology, and laboratory skills
  • hygiene and sterilisation methods and regulations 
  • engineering and flow process technology (pumps and hoses)
  • operating tractors or forklifts if working in a vineyard.

Working conditions

Winemakers:

  • usually work a 40-hour week, but during harvest will often work up to 100 hours a week
  • work in a winery, winery laboratory, office or factory
  • may also work outdoors in vineyards.

What's the job really like?

Strat Canning

Strat Canning

Winemaker

From government to wine

Strat Canning, winemaker of 32 years, started in the industry after working for the Government for 10 years.

“Looking back, I didn’t know much about wine, but growing something and taking it through to a final product seemed like a meaningful thing to do in life.”

Strat managed a vineyard for four years early in his career. “That was an incredibly valuable period of time because the vineyard is really where it’s all at. Without an understanding of the vineyard, you can never have a good understanding of the winemaking process.”

Hard work shows in the wine

“When you open a bottle you’re accountable for what you’ve done for that wine over the previous 24 months, both in the vineyard and winery. And that can be judged for 10 years to come. It’s satisfying and it keeps me on point. If you think, 'I can’t be bothered doing that today,' it might be picked up further down the track when someone opens the wine.”

How to get into the industry

Strat says it’s difficult to get a job as a cellar hand and even harder to move up the ranks. But it's possible with hard work, training, experience and networking.

“All you can do is stick with it, email as many people as you can, pull strings if you have any, and try to shine among your peers.”

Entry requirements

There are no specific requirements to become a winemaker. However, employers often prefer you to have a qualification such as a: 

  • Graduate Diploma in Viticulture or Oenology
  • Bachelor of Viticulture and Winemaking
  • Bachelor of Wine Science

Secondary education

A minimum of three years of secondary education is recommended. Useful subjects include chemistry, maths, physics and processing technologies.

Personal requirements

Winemakers need to have:

  • good communication skills
  • an eye for detail
  • ability to problem solve and work under pressure
  • practical and creative skills
  • business, management and marketing skills.

Useful experience

Useful experience for winemakers includes:

  • vineyard experience
  • laboratory experience in breweries or dairy factories
  • experience in wine sales, tasting or serving.

Physical requirements

Winemakers need to have an above average sense of taste and smell.

Find out more about training

New Zealand Wine
(09) 303 3527 - info@nzwine.com - www.nzwine.com
Check out related courses

What are the chances of getting a job?

Number of winemakers expected to grow 

New Zealand wine has an excellent reputation, attracting tourists and creating export demand. The export value of wine has risen each year for the last decade and will likely reach $2 billion annually by 2020. The number of wineries is increasing. From 2018 to 2019, 19 new wineries were established.

Due to industry growth, the number of winemakers is expected to increase by 3% each year until 2026.

Shortage of skilled winemakers

Employers report difficulty finding skilled winemakers, so your chances of securing a job are best if you have relevant experience.

Winemaker appears on Immigration New Zealand's regional skill shortage list. This means the Government is actively encouraging skilled winemakers from overseas to work in New Zealand.

Chances better in larger wine-producing regions

It can be hard to get an entry-level position or to progress from an assistant winemaker role. However, chances for entry-level roles are better in larger wine regions such as Marlborough, Central Otago and Hawke's Bay.

Most winemakers work for wineries or wine companies

Winemakers generally work for wineries or wine companies. They can work for small wineries, which make up 80% of New Zealand's total wine producers, or for large corporate producers.

 

Sources

  • Crennan, N, external relations manager, New Zealand Winegrowers, careers.govt.nz interview, 6 August 2019.
  • Deloitte, 'Wine Industry Benchmarking and Insights 2018', accessed July 2019, (www2.deloitte.com).
  • Immigration New Zealand, 'Regional Skill Shortage List', 27 May 2019, (www.immigration.govt.nz).
  • New Zealand Wine, 'Annual Report 2019 New Zealand Wine Growers', accessed August 2019, (www.nzwine.com).
  • Payscale, 'Average Winemaker Salary in New Zealand', accessed July 2019, (www.payscale.com).

(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our job opportunities information)

Progression and specialisations

Winemakers may progress to set up their own vineyard, or move into chief winemaker management roles.

A winemaker sampling wine from a barrel

Winemakers sample wines during the winemaking process

Last updated 10 September 2019