Wine Industry Career Series
No Experience, No Problem
By Karen Wetzel, WSET L3, NVWE, AWE
Is your lack of wine industry experience holding you back from pursuing your dream job? You might be surprised to find that many good-paying jobs are filled by people who have little or no experience with wine.
A few years ago, I met an elementary school teacher who just moved from Ohio to Napa. She knew nothing about wine or the region but needed to work while looking for a teaching position. So, she answered an ad, and was hired on the spot as a tasting room attendant at—wait for it—Silver Oak. Now, six years later, she’s still going strong. Her’s is the story that inspired me to tackle this topic.
The good news is that every state in the US makes, distributes, and sells wine. That means there are plenty of job opportunities across the country, many requiring little or no wine experience.
In my research, I found almost endless wine-related jobs around the country that never mentioned wine experience or wine knowledge in their requirements. Click here to see specifics: winejobs.com, linkedin.com
To get you thinking about the possibilities, here are just a few of the many opportunities waiting:
Wineries need to fill tasting room and hospitality positions and look for an engaging person who provides excellent service. If you have experience with customer service, retail sales, restaurants, or other consumer-facing jobs—that gives you a big advantage.
Wineries also need employees to work in the vineyard and winery, maintain the facility, and handle logistics. Often, no wine experience is required.
Suppliers and distributors need qualified candidates to fill potions for operations, finance, accounting, administration, HR, logistics, maintenance, PR, and Social Media Engagement. These positions may require experience specific to the job title, but wine experience is rarely a must.
Sales and Marketing jobs can be won without wine experience or knowledge. A strong work ethic, desire to learn, solid sales or marketing background, and successful track record are usually more important. In fact, I know many sales reps and marketing managers that previously worked with salty snacks, sodas, automobiles, luxury goods and pharmaceuticals. And restaurant servers and bartenders are considered great candidates for entry-level sales positions.
The point is, there are various wine jobs to be had by those with the right skills, even if those skills don’t include wine. Next time you find a fantastic job listing, check out the requirements. You might be surprised how many items on that list don’t contain the word wine. Then, go for it!
Stay tuned for the next issue to help you get the job you want when we compare “Experience vs. Credentials.”
(The views expressed by the author are hers alone and may not reflect the views of the Napa Valley Wine Academy.)