As the end of the year rapidly approaches us, some of my colleagues are bracing themselves. They have completed their undergrad and (trusting that exams go well) they will be joining the professional industry next year.
If you had asked us what we wanted to be one day at the beginning of the journey that is studying, we would have all said we want to be winemakers. Now that the end is near for some that question seems to be more grey. In general they have a good grasp of what we are doing for the 2019 harvest. After those 6 months it is anyone’s guess.
So what actually are our options?
The first one seems quite obvious: continue studying. The research bug hit some of us hard when doing our final project reports. The world we live in is fascinating and understanding even a fraction of it in detail is a privilege not afforded to all. The thing about going to higher qualifications is that at the least it is another two years at university. For some this is exactly what they want. For others, after graduation, you are going to be left staring at a comical poof of dust shaped like them as they are already at the airport waiting for their flights.
The second option is to actually go and be a winemaker. Once again this is loaded, you don’t normally just waltz out of university and straight into the head winemaker position. This is for a good reason: we simply do not have the experience to handle it. Being in charge of a few hundred barrels or one massive tank is one thing, being in charge of a whole cellar is another barrel of wine entirely. Most of whom are doing harvests next year are becoming harvest assistants, a better position than an intern and the benefit of being able to come home and relax, not work on research reports or literature reviews.
Now looking at more alternative options, for all of these extra courses will need to be taken, some of us have already taken them, others are researching options and some of us think these are horrible ideas. I give you these options, dear reader, not only to show you how diverse our chosen industry is, but how diverse we as individuals are.
Wine marketer: The background of our degree gives us an amazing understanding of the intrinsic product and allows us to see the broader picture of the industry and its needs.
Auditors: *gulp* Not the most loved people in industry, however there input is a necessity to allow us to stay up to standard and comply with the law. Some people have a nack for this sort of business, and are wholeheartedly pursuing this career path.
Sommeliers: It always seemed glamourous to stand around drinking wine and convincing that guest with a heavy pocket that the 2009 is better than the 2011. To become a somm you need to train, a lot, and the training doesn’t end, you have to keep practicing and reading and staying up to date with new trends and new winemakers that are shaking up the industry.
Wine buyer/seller: For resturants, shopping malls, wealthier members of society, a wine buyer is an important thing. Bench marking the standard that your guests will drink and going to find new and interesting wines for you to enjoy and sell. The admin behind this requires skill and dedication, it must be easy to get lost under all the paper work!
Viticulteralists: If working outside in the blazing sun for 8 hours of the day in summer sounds like your cup of tea then by all means go for it. Don’t let my bias taint your curiosity. There are many things you can do in part of industry: grafting new vines, planting new vines, growing and selling grapes, management of farms etc. I must say the idea of cross breeding a new vine and immortalizing myself through its name doesn’t sound half bad! Some of my class mates will go into this part of industry and revolutionize the way we plant grape vines forever (no pressure).
I hope if there are future prospective students reading this; it has given you some insight into what you can do with a Viticulture and Oenology degree. For those who are in industry that have been stuck in a rut: look around you, there are opportunities everywhere! For the rest of my readers: I hope this has given you some insight into what we can do in this diverse and amazing industry.