What does it involve?
The process of winery cellar operations is not the planting of the grapes and nor is it the production line of filling bottles of wine. It is the piece in-between, commonly known as winemaking.
This piece involves the processing of grapes once they are picked and the production of wine to the highest quality standards, ready for bottling. This work is carried out by Cellarhands, who are supervised by cellar supervisors or cellarmasters in some organisations, or winemakers in others.
Cellarmasters work alongside the winemaker who has responsibilities for managing and monitoring all stages of the winemaking process from receiving the grapes at the winery right through to quality finished wine ready for bottling.
Typically, an 8-hour or shift work. During the vintage (Feb – April) they evaluate the grape quality when it arrives, operate crashers, presses and manage the first stage of wine processing. During the rest of the year they filter, operate cross flows, control chemical additions and work with the winemakers to ensure the blend of the wine meets specification.
How could I get into the industry
Wine is an exciting and internationally recognised industry to be part of.
Someone entering the industry can expect to start in an entry level cellar hand role. This covers carrying out routine cellar operation tasks while learning about the wine industry and the processes involved in making wine.
What kind of jobs could I do?
A cellarhand assists in the winemaking process at all stages within the winery, including record keeping, equipment maintenance and cellar hygiene. With further training and experience, a cellarhand may progress into a more senior role managing the vintage operation that takes place each year between March and May (depending on the grape variety and regional seasonal conditions).
Ultimately, cellar supervisors or masters are involved in the entire winemaking process and provide technical support to the winemaker.
These career opportunities can exist at small boutique wineries right through to large scale commercial winery cellar operations.
What personal attributes and skills would make a good cellarhand?
- Able to work collaboratively in a team environment while still being able to work independently
- Fit and capable of performing physical work
- Literacy, numeracy and computer skills
- Reliability and dependability
- Analytical thinking
- Attention to detail and ability to follow instructions
- Able to operate machinery and understand physical processes
How much could I earn?
Pay rates for cellarhands vary depending on experience, responsibilities and other factors such as the size of the winery. Entry level cellarhands could expect to earn upwards of $16 per hour.
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