Napa Valley Wine Academy

Cracking the Code: How to Enter the Wine Industry from Scratch

No Experience, No Problem

Cracking the Code: How to Enter the Wine Industry from Scratch

By Karen Wetzel, WSET L3, NVWE, AWE

No Experience

Is your lack of wine industry experience holding you back from pursuing your dream job of a career in wine?  You might be surprised to find that people fill many good-paying wine jobs with little or no wine experience.

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:,

To get you thinking about the possibilities, here are just a few of the many opportunities waiting:

Tasting room attendent woman

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 positions 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 who previously worked with salty snacks, sodas, automobiles, luxury goods, and pharmaceuticals.  Restaurant servers and bartenders are considered great candidates for entry-level sales positions.

Wine sales woman

The point is that 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!  

Gaining confidence in the wine industry can be a significant hurdle for those without experience. Taking a Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) class can be an excellent step towards overcoming this. These classes provide foundational knowledge about wine, from understanding different grape varieties and wine styles to learning about wine regions and winemaking processes. By gaining this knowledge, you’ll feel more confident applying for various industry roles. It also signals to potential employers your dedication to learning and understanding wine, making you a more attractive candidate, even if you’re just starting out in this field. This added knowledge can empower you to pursue your dream job in the wine industry with greater confidence and expertise.

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.)



Cancellations of confirmed in-person course enrollments and workshops are accepted up to 60 days before the start of the course. An administration fee of $50 plus the full cost of the study materials and exam fees will be deducted, and the remainder of the course fee refunded to the payee. Separate WSET exam cancellation/transfer rules apply.
Transfers of a confirmed enrollment to another course are accepted 60 days before the course start date with an administration fee of $50.

Cancellations less than 60 days before the in-person course start date or course no shows forfeit any refund/transfer options unless students can provide medical documentation. If medical documentation is provided, students can be transferred to a later course. No refunds will be applied.

Course Transfers cannot be carried forward to the next academic year (which commenced on January 1).

Students are highly encouraged to purchase separate travel insurance.

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Flamingo Hotel Las Vegas

Your WSET Level 3 exam will take place on

February 12, 2023 at 10:00 AM (Pacific)


3555 Las Vegas Blvd

Las Vegas, NV 89109


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Mariott Santa Ynez

Your WSET Level 3 exam will take place on

April 23, 2023 at 10:00 AM (Pacific)


555 McMurray Road

Buelton, CA 93427


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Art Hotel Denver

Your WSET Level 3 exam will take place on

March 5, 2023 at 10:00 AM (Mountain)


1201 Broadway

Denver, CO 80203


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Aloft Nashville

Your WSET Level 3 exam will take place on

February 12, 2023 at 10:00 AM (Central)


1719 West End Ave.

Nashville, TN 37203


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Epicurean Hotel

Your WSET Level 3 exam will take place on

March 19, 2023 at 10:00 AM (Eastern)


1207 S Howard Ave,

Tampa, FL 33606


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Street View of HQ

Your WSET Level 3 exam will take place on

January 22, 2023 at 10:00 AM (Pacific)


2501 Oak Street

Napa, CA 94559