We have been discussing about wine industry jobs on a micro level in Parts 1 and 2. Today we discuss wine jobs in retail, restaurants and hospitality and education.
The list of wine retailers is endless, but of interest is these larger establishments have a buyer’s role, specific to each category, they also have packers and retail staff on the floor, an opportunity to develop a wine career.
An example of the larger dedicated chain-stores in wine would be “Total Wine” in the USA. There is the supermarket chains that have a liquor and wine section like Carrefour supermarket chains from France. In the UK, Marks and Spencer have a large liquor section while in South Africa they have ShopRite Wines and Spirit.
In Canada, there are the government monopolies selling wine and spirits and the staff employed here range the entire opportunity spectrum.
In Asia you have stores that consider wine and spirit sales as another commodity in their entire inventory and are not specialised in selling wine only. In China, there are liquor stores that only specialise in one country, eg, France and not have any other wines at all. The list is endless and the combinations limitless, you need to find the right niche and wine career opportunity for yourself.
Depending on the country, size, style of the restaurant your services may or may not be required. Many overseas Chinese restaurants allow patrons to bring in their own bottles of wine and there is a very minimal corkage fee. In comparison to Western styled restaurants the corkage fee can be 5 times that charged in Chinese restaurants, certainly this is true in parts of Canada.
To really utilize the greater wine skills you have acquired, Casino restaurant complexes, cruise-ship restaurants, tourist destination and locations with large hotel chains would be a career target. There are an infinite number of restaurants so the job options are vast, but the opportunity to grow may be limited in certain retail sectors. My suggestion would be to find a restaurant that is either committed to having a wine program and they continually invest in this wine program or a restaurant that is already committed to a wine program.
Education and Beyond
There are wine career opportunities to become a wine educator at tertiary institutions like universities or colleges. Of even wider appeal is the opportunity of being an internal wine educator for a large group or company. Alternatively, you can set up your own wine school and teach one of the following certifications if the “Institutions” accept you based on their criteria. There is the Asia Pacific Wine and Spirit Institute (APWASI), the Wine Scholar Guild, Society of Wine Educators and the Wine Spirit and Education Trust (WSET).
APWASI educators can become an “Ambassador” and this role entails guiding and mentoring students in their quest and journey for knowledge. The interaction with students is online and “Ambassadors” are permitted latitude and flexibility in their teaching methodologies and styles as APWASI understands and appreciates the constant change in current circumstances and generational change. APWASI trains the educator with the principles of APWASI education which is to encourage exploration and learn not only about wine, but culture, food and the linkages rather than just memorizing names, grape varieties and places. The APWASI market is global not restricted to local geography. Other educational institutions include:
- The Wine Scholar Guild selects certain representatives for certain areas and when that area is taken it is unlikely another educator will be permitted.
- The Society of Wine Educators are geographically limited and examinations are proctored mainly.
- WSET permits you to set your own Approved Program Provider (APP) status but your educators must be under a guidance of a certified wine educator who has passed that qualification set by WSET. One cannot deviate from what you teach, hence there is no differentiation in course material from one APP to another APP. Every aspect is regimented and there is limited opportunity to learn anything beyond the curriculum.
All bodies encourage broad reading. Depending on generational target markets, APWASI is the sole education body offering fully certified online wine courses.
The financial remuneration
The salaries of those employed in the hospitality industry range from the minimum wage server to the six-figure salary – it all depends on the institution you are working for and your position.
- Most servers earn minimum wage across the globe and rely on tips.
- Retailers often get a basic and commission if targets are achieved for the month.
- Sales representatives can earn up to $60 000 USD annually and more in commissions taking it up to 6 figures.
- Distributors generally fare well as do importers but this is again determinant on many factors in each country.
- Educators are paid hourly and can range from $40 and hour to higher remuneration.
- Wine-makers, good wine makers can make an enviable amount of income depending on experience and track history.
Like wine it may appear simple but it’s complex and the remuneration for those in the industry too. The one aspect about the wine industry that makes up for the financial side is the camaraderie. Many in the industry are exceptionally devoted to the philosophy of wine and this shows with the graciousness and welcoming you receive when you visit wine and spirit establishments across the globe and tell them you are in the same industry. In my experience the warmth you receive is often times overwhelming.
COVID 19 and the future
The normal life of convivial meeting, eating and drinking with friends and family, attending dances, celebrating annual events was obliterated and decimated huge swaths of employed staff in all industries across the globe pressuring governments to yield and kneel.
The hospitality industry was and is still reeling from this onslaught and it appears the viciousness of this virus translates into huge cuts of biblical proportions in terms of employment. While many would look at re-inventing themselves or taking what job offers are offered is understandable, make no mistake though when the rebound comes, and it will. Many would want to use this time wisely and reinvent themselves, upgrade wine career knowledge and above all do not lose that thirst for knowledge.
Wine, culture, people and history are intertwined and right now we are experiencing a less than impressive vintage in the history of humanity but we will survive, then thrive then adapt and overcome to become stronger.