I'm often asked, "I hate my job. How can I work in the wine business?", so here's what I tell folks.
The first thing to realize is that entry level into the wine business is not typically a high paying position. If you are currently making a good paycheck, chances are that you are going to have to accept an initial pay cut. The simple reason is that there are far more people who want a job in the wine business than there are jobs in the wine business.
I'm going to generalize here because there are always exceptions. The majority of jobs in the wine business are filled rather quickly from within the local markets. Most of the job openings are at the wholesale level and the first line of "qualified" and available people are from the local Restaurants or Wine Shops. The higher-level jobs of Supplier or
Marketing Reps or Vineyard/Winery Reps are almost always filled from the local Wholesalers. Again, there are many exceptions. I know of people who jumped right into a high paying Supplier level positions and some from outside of the wine industry completely. Having said that, here is my suggestion.
In order to find out about the jobs that do come up, you need to tap into the wholesale side of the business. The best way to do that is to work either full or part-time in a fine wine shop. You get two key benefits. You should have an opportunity to taste wine samples brought in by the wholesale reps, some of which you may not otherwise have a chance to taste. And, you can develop connections into the wine business.
Along with that should also come opportunities to attend "trade-only" tastings put on by the Wholesalers and Suppliers in your market. Then just get out there and network furiously. Find out who the wine Managers are and contact them. Be persistent and aggressive in your pursuit of a job. Managers like to know that you really want the position, that you're “hungry” for it. Do not get annoying; just don't take “no” lightly. Be aware that the last three months of the year
are the biggest in this industry and Managers are hesitant to make major changes during this time if they can help it. It's a good time to establish contacts, but don't expect to be hired until after the first of the year.
Good luck, and wherever you are, please spread word about www.LocalWineEvents.com