Basic Knowledge For Wine Industry Job Seekers
There is something exhilerating about standing up in front of a classroom filled with students and leading a discussion. I had forgotten about this thrill before having the opportunity to guest lecture at a UCLA Extension class on The Business of Wine Management.
I was at the UCLA class led by Patrick Comiskey and Shelby Ledgerwood on Wednesday. The topic of my time in front of the class was the Three Tier System and Wine Politics. I provided a terribly partisan rendition of hte topic. But it appeared to me tha the students enjoyed the discussion nonetheless.
Flying home that night I had the chance to reflect on the educational opportunities that have developed for those interested iln testing the waters of the wine industry. It's not just UCLA. A number of colleges across the country now offer not just oenology and viticultural classes, but wine business classes. All this is a level more than the wine appreciation classes that represented the totality of the wine education experience when I got into the business just 20 years ago.
This is of course a testament to the rise of the wine industry in general in the United States over the past two decades. As told the students, they are way ahead of the game compared to where I was when I sought entry into the wine industry. Everything I learned about the wine industry was "on the job." Louis Foppiano won't like to hear this (maybe he knows), but when I landed my first job in the wine industry at a PR firm in Santa Rosa, California and when I was assigned the Foppiano Vineyards account, I knew next to nothing about what I was supposed to be doing. I understood little of the way the wine industry worked, even in it simplest forms.
These students at UCLA will walk away with a pretty darned good grounding when they finish the class based on what I saw of Patrick's and Shelby's approach, thoroughness and enthusiasm.
I must have been somewhere over Monterey when I started to think about what someone ought to try to take with them into a first time search for a position in the wine industry. The list of skills and knowledge isn't complex and is easily attainable. But I do think it's required:
1. A basic history of wine industry, and not just the CA wine industry.
2. A basic knowledge of how wine is made
3. A basis familiarity with the primary winemaking grapes and wine regions around the world.
4. Excellent Communication skills (including writing)
5. Advanced interpersonal communication skills.
6. The abilty to lift a case of wine.
With this foundation, I think the person seeking a position in the wine industry will have a leg up.