Recent Grad curious about how folks who don't have an wine related major end up in the wine industry

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linda.qiu
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Recent Grad curious about how folks who don't have an wine related major end up in the wine industry

#1 Post by linda.qiu » March 16th, 2015, 5:18 pm

Hello everyone,


I am curious to hear from folks who don't have a wine-industry related major in college end up in the wine industry.


The reason why I am curious is because I am recent graduate (Feb. 2015) from University of Delaware where I majored in international business studies with a concentration in Chinese. I am extremely interested in entering the wine industry, but I don't know where to start or anyone. Delaware isn't really a place synonymous with wine. Also, I feel like I made a mistake during my undergraduate years by mostly networking with Chinese international students because the past me wanted to do some kind of importing business in China. I guess you can say I had an extreme entrepreneurial mindset until I realized that I lacked experience and credibility to be taken seriously.

By the time I realized, I already missed deadlines to apply to summer internship programs.

But luckily, one of my international friends helped me land an internship in a Chinese wine importing/logistics company, and I interned there for 5 months while also taking two online courses and traveling around China. Before that internship, I never imagined the possibility of working in the wine industry. My experience there helped confirm my decision near the end of my internship to seek a job in the industry preferably back on U.S. soil.

After I graduated I have been checking winejobs.com everyday and applied to most of the administrative assistant job offers. Almost all of the jobs makes me sadly wish I live in California. Additionally, I have also been applying to other entry level jobs. And when I am not applying, I have been studying for the WSET exam.

I feel like I reached a fork in the road, and that I am stuck there until I hear back from what job I would get, wine or non-wine.

I would really appreciate any advice, and I am also curious to hear from folks who didn't decide or realize they wanted to enter the wine industry until after college or later in their career.

Thank you!

My email is qiu.linda@yahoo.com.

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Nolan E
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Recent Grad curious about how folks who don't have an wine related major end up in the wine industry

#2 Post by Nolan E » March 16th, 2015, 8:04 pm

I became interested in cigars at 18 and when I turned 21 I was hired to work in the humidor for a large liquor/wine/food store chain in Texas. I bumped around departments until I landed in wine and loved it.

I'd say getting a job on a nice retail store or working for a distributor with an interesting portfolio would be a good start. Short of that, you could try to go for a harvest internship in CA/OR/WA/NY and see how you like that side of the business.
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Paul Luckin
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Recent Grad curious about how folks who don't have an wine related major end up in the wine industry

#3 Post by Paul Luckin » March 16th, 2015, 8:12 pm

linda -

breaking into the Wine Industry isn't easy. it's an insular community - and one of the most generous i've ever encountered - so this is my advice:

- work a harvest. doesn't matter on which continent or hemisphere, but that will go a long way on a resume.

- keep sending resumes and networking where you can...you never know where an opportunity may turn up.

- and with regard to opportunity: don't be afraid to take an entry-level position, learn what you can, and then take another position in advancement.

- the Wine Business is full of great people. meet them, network, and if you truly want to venture down this road, it can happen.

best of luck!
\m/ >_< \m/

ITB

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Recent Grad curious about how folks who don't have an wine related major end up in the wine industry

#4 Post by Poppy Davis » March 16th, 2015, 8:41 pm

Auction houses are always looking to hire people who are eager to learn wine and not afraid to put in the hard work. Entry-level jobs are low pay and very labor intensive (lifting 40+ lb cases of wine repeatedly, going into dark, smelly, dirty, cold cellars, getting scraped by rusty nails, getting splinters opening wood crates, etc.). To start anywhere, be prepared to start at the bottom and work hard. Any smart employer recognizes talent and good work ethic and will promote as quickly as is reasonable. You'll need to move to California, New York or possibly Chicago.

Good luck!
Poppy Davis Fruchtman, formerly ITB

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Brent C l a y t o n
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Recent Grad curious about how folks who don't have an wine related major end up in the wine industry

#5 Post by Brent C l a y t o n » March 16th, 2015, 9:26 pm

Retail is a grind but if you choose a high profile place it can reap great dividends. I'm still able to mine relationships I established as a 19yr old delivery boy at a major wine store.

Retail can offer access to in-store visits by winemakers, tastings and staff trainings, trade tastings and other events. Pay is generally hourly and low, but many stores prefer to promote from within so there will be opportunities to show that you're willing to learn and be coached up, or there may be a place willing to contribute to your education. I'm on my phone so I can't see your location, but as Poppy said you will mostly have to look in a major city and the offset is cost of living.
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dteng
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Recent Grad curious about how folks who don't have an wine related major end up in the wine industry

#6 Post by dteng » March 18th, 2015, 7:37 am

I thought the answer was going to be "just bad luck!" [wow.gif] neener
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Recent Grad curious about how folks who don't have an wine related major end up in the wine industry

#7 Post by Stephen Pepe » March 18th, 2015, 9:57 am

Hi Linda. Are you looking for the retail side of the wine business or the production side? If production consider taking the UC Davis short courses. The two main ones are 5 days each. One on grape growing and the other on wine production. Also the UC Davis two day sensory evaluation course is excellent. [cheers.gif]
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Thomas Concilio
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Recent Grad curious about how folks who don't have an wine related major end up in the wine industry

#8 Post by Thomas Concilio » March 20th, 2015, 8:32 am

dteng wrote:I thought the answer was going to be "just bad luck!" [wow.gif] neener
It isn't?
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linda.qiu
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Recent Grad curious about how folks who don't have an wine related major end up in the wine industry

#9 Post by linda.qiu » March 21st, 2015, 5:24 pm

Thank you to all those replied!
I really appreciate it.

[thankyou.gif]

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Recent Grad curious about how folks who don't have an wine related major end up in the wine industry

#10 Post by Doug Schulman » March 24th, 2015, 7:59 am

linda.qiu wrote:I am recent graduate (Feb. 2015) from University of Delaware where I majored in international business studies with a concentration in Chinese. I am extremely interested in entering the wine industry
I only had to get this far to know there's tremendous opportunity out there for you. It all depends on what part of the business you want to be in. Remember that the global wine trade is vast and not limited to only a couple of sectors. If you don't mind travelling a lot or possibly moving to China (or the UK), you could look to get involved in the auction business out there or try to work your way up in the world of wine imports in China. There is a lot of demand for brokers and intermediaries who can help producers in other countries get their wines placed and sold in China. The market there, as I'm sure you know, is so fragmented there that such services can be highly valuable to those producers. An entry level job with the largest Chinese wine importer (easy to find with a web search) might be a place to start. Or you could begin the auction route without going there. I know nothing of the work visa process, so that might be a deciding factor. Alternatively, you could try to get a job with a US wine importer to get a feel for that side of the business from here. Even if China is an eventual goal or consideration, that might be a better place to start so you don't have this huge life commitment to something that you're so new to.

If you don't want to pursue that type of thing, I would say just start somewhere. You'll get a better idea of what different sectors of the business are like by working in the business. It's very difficult to get a feel for from the outside. Plus, you'll have to start at the bottom somewhere, especially if you aren't going to directly use your education at first (which might allow for something other than an entry level position). Retail and restaurants are both great places to learn about wine and how it gets to the end consumer. This understanding is relevant to all sectors of the wine business. These types of positions could allow you to get started without relocating, depending on where you live now. Keep in mind that in retail and restaurants, the experience is only really helpful if you work for a business that cares about wine. Lots of retailers and restaurants really don't.

Most people in the business don't have a wine-related degree. You'll be fine. Pursuing WSET certifications is one of the best things you can be doing to supplement the work experience that you will build once you dive in. High level certifications can really open some doors.

Good luck!
ITB - retail sales and education

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C Chen
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Recent Grad curious about how folks who don't have an wine related major end up in the wine industry

#11 Post by C Chen » April 23rd, 2015, 4:31 pm

Linda, maybe you can be the one floor rep at Total Wine & More that we can all trust!

All joking aside, my friends got their starts working in retail, usually as a sales rep or unloading shipments in the back (tons to learn there, too). One went on to open her own store, which is a success in OC.

Plenty of avenues that I'm sure I'm unaware of, but there's one! And it's been mentioned, I just thought I'd add some reinforcement. Ha.
curt1S ch3N

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Brian G r a f s t r o m
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Recent Grad curious about how folks who don't have an wine related major end up in the wine industry

#12 Post by Brian G r a f s t r o m » April 29th, 2015, 2:35 pm

Prison work release.
Los Angeles Workers' Compensation and Personal Injury

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Recent Grad curious about how folks who don't have an wine related major end up in the wine industry

#13 Post by M. Sai » May 14th, 2015, 10:49 am

I’m late to the party, but I wouldn’t count your non-wine degree as a negative. Yes, the industry is tough to break into – often requiring sacrifice and low pay of an entry level position. However always keep the perspective that wineries / distributors / retailers in the industry are just a business like any other. They need driven people who can get past romantic side and meet goals, drive initiatives, etc. In fact, I would submit that most high paying jobs in the industry have very little to do with walking the vineyards, pouring wine, etc. I live in a world of spreadsheets, reports and managing the development of custom software for our company. However, once the day is done I get to drive home on Hwy 12 through the Carneros from Napa to Sonoma – and the ‘wine country lifestyle’ is something I live, versus just visiting for the weekend.

When you do submit a resume, skip the ‘passionate about wine’ song and dance and focus on what value you can bring as a business person. Talk about your ability to sell, market products or lead people. Romance is for the weekend and the confused tourists you see driving their convertible Mustang rental.

Good Luck - for reference, it took me a full year of submitting resumes and going to interviews to land a job and make the move. [cheers.gif]
Cheers!
Mike

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George Chadwick
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Recent Grad curious about how folks who don't have an wine related major end up in the wine industry

#14 Post by George Chadwick » June 1st, 2015, 2:45 am

Brian G r a f s t r o m wrote:Prison work release.
I was going to say, wineries and roofers don't do criminal background checks.

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Dave Erickson
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Recent Grad curious about how folks who don't have an wine related major end up in the wine industry

#15 Post by Dave Erickson » June 8th, 2015, 6:10 am

With zero experience, I answered a blind ad in the newspaper and got a job at as a clerk in a liquor store in Boston that was known for its large wine selection. I learned how to stock, run a cash register, and was befriended by the wine director, who taught me a lot. On my 90th day, when I became eligible for health insurance, they fired me. Best thing that ever happened. I enrolled in the WSET Advanced program at Boston University, got my credential, and moved on.

Given your credentials, I'd be looking for a job with a company that imports wine into China. Here's a list of them.
http://beveragetradenetwork.com/en/wine ... na-185.htm

China, as you must know, is the hottest wine market on the planet right now.

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Re: Recent Grad curious about how folks who don't have an wine related major end up in the wine industry

#16 Post by Bill S. » August 15th, 2018, 6:17 pm

I started in the retail side after I decided retirement wasn't for me lol. Seriously tho, retail or restaurant positions are probably the easiest to get into but like mentioned above make sure that they are serious about wine sells. After awhile you will get to know the vendors and can possibly get on with one of them although from my conversations with vendors you start with a small group of customers (generally the smaller accounts) but can move to bigger accounts after awhile (more $$$$). In retail, as mentioned above there are benefits (free tastings, classes, discounts) with the larger chain retailers and if you stick it out senority will give you decent money ( at on chain I was making $14/hr in an area that the average wage was $10/hr lol).

Good luck!
Bill Stell ITB

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