The various sectors of the wine industry offer plentiful career paths for driven business professionals.
While winemakers arguably hold the most recognized job title in the wine world, there are many career paths in the industry that are better suited to the unique skills of motivated business professionals. Whether you’re interested in pursuing a corporate role in a multinational firm or dream of owning your own boutique business, let this list of wine career opportunities inspire your own path.
Wine Careers in Hospitality and Tourism
Often referred to as on-premise, hospitality and tourism outlets—including restaurants, bars, hotels, and tasting rooms—offer numerous job opportunities for people-oriented wine professionals who enjoy a fast-paced work environment. These can include front-of-house positions, such as sommeliers or tasting room associates (now often referred to as “wine educators”), or back-of-house positions that involve business expertise and managerial duties. Regardless, hospitality and tourism professionals have a passion for creating exceptional experiences for their guests, and wine plays an important role in this.
You can expect a variety of job titles that are geared towards wine professionals within hospitality and tourism, including:
- Director of Wine and Spirits
- Director of Catering
- Chief of Staff
- Resort Sommelier and Manager
- Tasting Room Manager
- General Manager
If the above sounds intriguing to you, you’re not alone! The hospitality sector is an ever-booming business, and those who invest in their career and education often obtain the most coveted roles. One way to separate yourself from the crowd is with a master’s degree in wine-related study from an accredited university. The Culinary Institute of America’s master’s in Wine and Beverage Management, for example, offers students the ability to refine their wine tasting and theory skills while honing key business and leadership competencies. The combination of this professional development curriculum, along with the qualification of a master’s degree on their résumé, leaves graduates with a keen advantage in the job market.
Note that this isn’t only true for hospitality roles. If you’re interested in any of the career paths listed in this article, you (and your résumé) would benefit from a master’s degree that deep dives into the business of wine.
If you’ve always dreamed of working at a winery but aren’t a grape grower or winemaker, there are plenty of non-production positions that could fulfill your aspirations. Wineries employ numerous individuals to run business operations, spanning sales, marketing, and management, to name a few. While some small, family-run producers tend to run skeleton crews due to limited resources, abundant career opportunities can be found at both boutique and high-volume wineries with well-established brands.
Business professionals employed at wineries work to support the production, sales, and promotion of the company’s wine portfolio. Job titles that do so include, but aren’t limited to:
- Director of Operations
- Membership Manager
- Director of Events
- General Manager
- Director of Sales
- Manager, Retail and Property Merchandising
- Director of Marketing
Working for a Wine Importer or Distributor
Distributors and importers play a crucial role in the transportation, marketing, and sale of wine. Both are entrusted by wineries to identify target markets for their product and then sell their wines to on- and off-premise establishments. Importers do so on an international scale—they are responsible for identifying and importing wines from foreign markets that they wish to sell in their home country.
Often operating on a large scale, distributors and importers require a high degree of specialized employees to run day-to-day operations, including:
- National Accounts Director
- Regional Director, Trade Development
- Manager, Strategic Communications
- Distribution Center Manager
- Category Insights Manager
Jobs in Wine Retail
Wine retailers (aka, off-premise) run the gamut, from boutique wine shops, to large liquor stores, to online purveyors. While these establishments have always been in demand within their local communities, their sales saw a dramatic rise during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and are expected to remain high. This might be the perfect time for a motivated wine professional to specialize in the retail sector.
Since most wine retailers sell wines from all over the world, individuals who have an affinity for and knowledge of international wines might find themselves drawn to retail. Jobs can include:
- Retail Manager
- Senior Wine Buyer
- Wine and Spirits Manager
- Senior Product Manager
- Director, Integrated Business Planning
- Senior Supply Chain Manager
There are, of course, many other professions that work with wine to varying degrees. Wine-centric media outlets employ a variety of creative professionals—like writers, graphic designers, video producers, and PR specialists—who may also have a keen interest in wine. Alternatively, a wine investment firm would be an excellent place for a skilled financier to find employment. Universities or certifying bodies often employ those who are highly knowledgeable about wine to teach classes or seminars. Even technological firms—whose products range from mobile apps to remote mapping systems—can offer engineers a chance to work in a field they’re passionate about.
But for the business generalist, marketing guru, sales specialist, or entrepreneur, the career paths outlined above offer ample opportunity for those who are passionate about wine to work in their desired field. If you are eager to refine your business expertise, you can even pursue a master’s degree program in wine—like CIA’s master’s degree in Wine and Beverage Management—which will make you more competitive in the job market. The more you focus on developing your skills and sharpening your knowledge of wine (and the business of wine), the more quickly your career will begin to flourish.