Winemakers: what's the least "sexy" part of what you do?

For those of us not in the business of wine production or viticulture, it’s often a dream to one day make wine. I’ve heard more that a handful of wine enthusiasts hope aloud that, someday, they’ll have enough money to “retire” from their day jobs and open a boutique winery and make and sell wine. I think it’s partially the idea of turning a passion into a career that is the most fanciful part of this dream for many. Many would love to live and work amidst the beautiful vineyards, marvel at the beautiful fruit as it comes in, take in the aromas of the crushed grapes and the barrel room…etc. etc.

In contrast, I’ve also heard from winemakers that one should only do so if one has a LOT of money they want to throw away and if one wants to work long and hard hours for very little thanks.

My questions to winemakers (and, sure, growers and winery employees alike), what is the least sexy part of what you do? What do those dreamers not realize is part of the life of a winemaker? With what scenario would you end the following statement, “Yeah, sure, making wine is all fine and dandy right up until you have to _________…”


“Dealing with those rich and entitled Berserkers who all bitch and demand an allocation on my closed list, and then flip half of it when I let them on.”



Except it should be

As someone who makes a bit of wine as well as writing about it, I warmly second this.

Though probably the least glamorous situation I ever saw in the wine world was a winery in Burgundy where the winery and neighboring house were plumbed into the same sewerage system, and that system backed up into the cellar.

And when that’s done…
More cleaning!!

Hardly noticed if that happened in Chinon… [stirthepothal.gif]

I have loved my wine journey for close to four decades now, and I have never had the desire to make wine. Making wine is farming – my mom grew up on a farm. I know what that life is like. I have enormous respect for people who do it. I realized early on that liking wine does not mean that I would like to make wine. I like going out to eat at nice restaurants, but I would never want to own or work in one. I like traveling but I would not want to be a travel agent, or a tour guide. The closest I have come to any of this was working in a few retail wine/liquor places when I was younger. A great opportunity to learn about wine, taste some nice wine, and to see what the service side of life is like (both good and bad). So my hat is off to those of you who do it. No need to fear any competition from me. :slight_smile:

Agreed with the above comments, cleaning is least glamorous part of winemaking. You have to clean everything before you use it, use it, and then clean it when you’re done. Cleaning sometimes takes as long (or longer) as the actual task your doing.

Might be a dumb question, but the OP asked the wineMAKERs…

So… Couldn’t cleaning be oursourced to minimum wage workers? or is there some highly skilled cleaning that requires a wine MAKER to do?

I hated trying to punch down cap in macrobins before it has separated…its equivalent of trying to dig a hole in cement with a shovel with your arms only.

Of the four wineMAKERS I’ve had the privilege to work with and for, each and every one of them does the “dirty work” and doesn’t pawn it off to the interns and/or cellar staff.

…no one can get to your expectation of clean like you can.

Where I got my first years of experience we field sorted. One guy who helped us pick for the first time went off to the restroom when we got back with the grapes. A few minutes later, he came over to help with crush, but it was done. Doh! Two hour pick, 5 minute crush, one hour cleanup.

Sales. Nothing can wash the stank off from having to do sales.

Going crazy attempting to trap rodents smarter than yourself in isolated facilities. It can be a constant war. This includes gophers as well.

I thought for sure it was going to be sending out all those surveys

The first three years of sales were the most demeaning experience of my life. Way worse than peeing my pants in fourth grade (I really had to go). Now the worst part is chasing down money – not that it has a lot to do with winemaking, except you need to get paid for your boxes if you’re going to make more boxes.

Cleaning is the easiest part of the process to outsource. It’s not tough to teach someone to clean well, and, given my workload, our employees do it with more attention to detail than I ever could.

So I’m going with Wes on this one.

The cleaning is never ending but there can be some zen like moments. There is nothing but awful in compliance.

Dealing with water rights reporting? When I made wine commercially and would pour at events, I really hated that last hour when the crowd got ripped and acted rude.