Now Is the Best Time to Get Into the Wine Industry in Decades
This moment, right now, is the best time to find a job in the wine industry that I’ve witnessed in more than 30 years.
Job seekers looking to break into the wine industry will find wineries across the West Coast desperate to hire, particularly in the hospitality realm. A perusal of the Winejobs.com site one can find a host of wineries offering signing bonuses, lowered qualifications, higher per hour pay, more jobs that come with benefits, but most of all, more jobs to be had.
The state of the wine industry job market is portrayed best by the WineJobs.com “Winery Job Index”. The Index, which measures job openings at wineries, showed the index up 334% against April 2020 and 25% above 2019. The Index’s DtC/TastingRoom/Retail category of job openings in April 2021 was up and unfathomable 3,571% over April 2020
Yes, it’s true that April 2020 was the height of the COVID Pandemic and a month that had wineries closing their doors. It was a jobapacolypse as people closeted themselves inside in the face of lockdowns, wineries had no on-property customers and were forced to lay off hospitality workers, and the various wine country regions were deserted almost entirely of visitors.
A lot has changed obviously that has led to so many jobs being available, not the least of which is the modern miracle of the COVID vaccines and the re-opening of tasting rooms again along with the return of visitors feeling safe and sound in the wake of having been jabbed once or twice by the needle.
But still, it appears that the number of jobs available in the wine industry are not being filled. There is a certain desperation among those looking to hire, particularly those wineries that need front-of-the-house folks to greet the new hordes of people dying to get out of their homes and let the good times roll in wine country and elsewhere. This is why if you look at some of the jobs being listed at WineJobs.com you’ll note some are offering signing bonuses between $400 and $2000. You’ll find higher than normal hourly pay rates. You’ll find lower qualifications required for many jobs. And you’ll find many more benefits like 401Ks, more paid time off, and commute compensation than you ever saw before the pandemic.
So, what’s with the lack of applicants for wine industry jobs?
It’s a perfect storm of reasons. But the key here is that this storm will pass and the kinds of incentives we are currently seeing being offered likely won’t be there in 3 or 4 months.
It’s important to keep in mind that while about 50% of the U.S. population has been fully vaccinated, that leaves about 50% that have not been jabbed yet and this still puts fear in some people’s hearts. On top of this, despite some states now cutting back on unemployment benefits, there are still a decent amount of unemployment benefits out there that deter some folks from hitting the pavement and looking for jobs. We also have anecdotal evidence of a number of folks in the hospitality industry (restaurant and tasting room) who took advantage of the Pandemic to find work in another industry that might pay more, deliver better or most stable hours or that is less demanding. Finally, kids are still in school. This means a number of parents who might be more than willing to take these jobs in the wine industry remain at home school teachers and are unable to commit to full-time work.
But as I mention, this moment will pass. Vaccination rates will easily created herd immunity by August. By September, kids will be back in school freeing up the heroic parents that spent a year attempting to re-learn New Math. By mid-June, a swath of new graduates will be hitting the pavement looking for work. And the COVID-related unemployment benefits will end by the end of August. All these things will help the job market find equilibrium.
It’s worth reminding that as the job market comes back to equilibrium, the current and unusual incentives being offered by wine-related companies will go away. Don’t count on signing bonuses in September. Don’t count on increasing hourly rates in September. Don’t count on the increased job benefits in September.
This makes this moment, right now, the best time in decades to get into the wine industry. At this moment, you can probably find work in the wine industry without significant experience or a certification of some sort. This is it. Right now is the magic moment for wine industry entry that you will not see again for a very long time, if ever.