Winemaker Kaihanga Waina

Winemakers make wine from grapes and other fruit.

Winemakers may do some or all of the following:

  • discuss fruit quality and quantity with grape growers (viticulturists) throughout the growing season
  • develop new wine styles and improve the wine quality
  • process grapes to make wine
  • control fermentation and adjust wines as needed
  • ensure legal standards and specifications are met, such as alcohol level requirements in New Zealand or the country of export
  • filter, bottle and package the wine for sale
  • maintain winemaking equipment and machinery
  • manage winery workers
  • use software to track grape health and growth 
  • record procedures, blends and inventories
  • market and sell wine.

Physical Requirements

Winemakers need to have an above average sense of taste and smell.

Useful Experience

Useful experience for winemakers includes:

  • vineyard experience
  • laboratory experience in breweries or dairy factories
  • experience in wine sales, tasting or serving.

Personal Qualities

Winemakers need to have:

  • good communication skills
  • an eye for detail
  • ability to problem solve and work under pressure
  • practical and creative skills
  • business, management and marketing skills.

Skills

Winemakers need to have knowledge of:

  • different wine styles and varieties
  • winery and vineyard technology and tracking software
  • wine-related science, such as chemistry, biology and microbiology, and laboratory skills
  • hygiene and sterilisation methods and regulations 
  • engineering and flow process technology (pumps and hoses)
  • operating tractors or forklifts if working in a vineyard.

Conditions

Winemakers:

  • usually work a 40-hour week, but during harvest will often work up to 100 hours a week
  • work in a winery, winery laboratory, office or factory
  • may also work outdoors in vineyards.

Winemakers can earn around $44K to $83K per year.

Chances of getting a job as a Winemaker are good due to a shortage of people interested in this type of work.

Pay for winemakers varies depending on experience, the type of work they do and the size of the winery and its region.

  • Unqualified cellar hands usually earn from $44,000 to $46,000 a year.  
  • Qualified cellar hands usually earn from $44,000 to $52,000.
  • Assistant winemakers usually earn from $60,000 to $83,000.
  • Winemakers can earn between $89,000 and $136,000.
  • Chief winemakers, who manage teams of winemakers, can earn between $144,000 and $211,000.

Winemakers who buy into wineries and vineyards can increase their income.

Source: New Zealand Wine, 2020.

Winemakers may progress to set up their own vineyard, or move into chief winemaker management roles.

Years Of Training

There are no specific requirements to become a winemaker. However, employers often prefer you to have a qualification such as a: 

  • Graduate Diploma in Viticulture or Oenology
  • Bachelor of Viticulture and Winemaking
  • Bachelor of Wine Science
Winemaker