An enologist is a wine expert who’s widely knowledgeable about wine and are often in charge of wine production in a given winery. They oversee every step of production, from start to finish. They are charged with ensuring that each product is produced to the highest quality and often works in close liaison with lab technicians. They also correspond with all departments while dressed in a wine production outfit to ensure that all regulations are met.
Enologist Job Responsibilities
The enologist is responsible for inspecting the grapes before are used. That applies to both grapes in the field if the company grows its own grapes and grapes delivered to the winery. They also determine when grapes are ready for harvest and production— the harvests are used for specific types of wines. Most importantly, they determine when the wine production starts, based on several factors.
It’s the responsibility of the enologist to ensure that grapes are transported safely to the production area. While in transition, they should be handled in a way that retains their value and quality.
The enologist also ensures that proper grape crushing techniques are used in order to produce wine of the highest quality. Their job is to maintain quality control of all wines produced in the winery, which requires them to work with the laboratory technician to ensure that all testing protocols are followed. They oversee fermentation, blending, and bottling processes as well.
Enologists must develop new wines, and depending on the size of the winery where they are working, may even specialize in a specific type of wine.
What Exactly Do Enologist Look For In Wine?
You might understand the basic duties of what an enologist, but you might be clueless as to what they’re really doing. It’s vital that wine is checked for spoilage and other flaws that could hinder the development of the product. Plus, there are other components to wine that are separate from the taste and smell—the acidity, sugar levels, and nutrient levels are also a factor. Therefore, enologist monitors every aspect of the wine including sanitation and wine temperature. Before the harvest, they also check the grapes to decide when they should be picked.
Enologist Training and Education Requirements
To become an enologist, one requires an undergraduate degree, preferably a Bachelor of Science degree, specializing in enology. To qualify for an enology degree course, you must undertake the relevant courses in high school, which include mathematics, biology, chemistry, and physics. A diploma increases your chances of admission to a university.
However, you can still enter the enology job market if you have a degree in a related field, because the number of universities offering enology degrees has reduced. You can have a degree in chemistry, crop and soil science, or microbiology.
Additionally, you must have experience and thorough knowledge about wines. Employers require between one and three years of experience to consider you experienced enough for the job. Students hoping to become enologists can meet this requirement by taking up internships and summer jobs throughout their training program.
Enologist Salary and Wages
There are fewer job openings for enologists than for many other professionals. However, when you’re competent enough, you can easily get a job. The number of graduates in enology is small, which makes it easier for fresh graduates to find employment.
According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/, the demand for enologists is expected to increase in the next five years, largely because a broad percentage of the current enologists are nearing retirement age— this will leave a considerable number of openings for fresh enology graduates.
As the number of small wineries continues to thrive in the country, there will be steady jobs. Another way for enologists to earn is by starting their own wineries. On average, enologists earn an average of $60,000 a year. The starting salary is around $40,000. Enologists can also work on a contractual basis. The wages for this are approximately $25 an hour.*
Enologists intending to start their own wineries or export wine must be certified by the National Laboratory Center Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. To qualify for certification, you must be an enology graduate or a graduate chemist. It must be supported by educational and professional documentation to prove your qualification and abilities.
Furthermore, you must submit to the bureau director an analysis report of a sample of any red wine and another one of white wine. Along with the report, you must also provide 750 milliters of each of the analyzed wines for analysis by the bureau chemists.
However, most employers do not require one to be certified before they can give them a job.
Enologist Professional Associations
The American Society for Enology and Viticulture (ASEV) is the main professional association for enologists. It was established in 1950 and was originally made up of California winemakers and researchers from the University of California. Over the years, the association has expanded to establish nationwide membership. It currently has 2400 members and 100 industrial affiliates. It has three chapters: the Northwest Chapter, Eastern US Chapter, and ASEV Japan Chapter.
It addresses and promotes the interests of wine growing, research and production. Under the association, enologists enjoy annual industry seminars, wine and grape symposiums, technical updates, research forums, online access to the American Journal of Enology and Viticulture (including archives), ASEV e-newsletters and other publications.
What Kind Of Person Should Be An Enologist?
Being an enologist requires more than just a love for wine, but a love for science as well. There are lots of details that go into making sure wine is just right other than tasting it. Believe it or not, you will spend a significant amount of time in a lab and not sipping wine for hours a day. However, if you work for a small winery, chances are you’ll have several job duties.
In addition to loving science, you also need patience. Your job is to make sure the wine’s chemistry is right and that it tastes good, and that requires a lot of testing. Not to mention, you must have a great sense of smell. No matter how much you analyze the wine, it has to smell and taste delicious. So, if you enjoy perfecting formulas, this is the right career for you.
What’s It Like To Be A Enologist?
Well, every job might differ depending on where you work but generally, all duties are the same. You might spend the day gathering samples from the barrels to run tests or cleaning lab equipment. On other days, you might do blending trials to get the right formula and do a little taste testing. Furthermore, sensory evaluation and fermentation management is done daily to ensure a quality product. It’s safe to say you’ll be busy doing a number of things throughout the day.
It’s important to note that there are perks to being an enologist. The wine industry is huge and there are wineries all over the world. Some people in the career field travel to other regions to learn and work abroad. Doing so gives them tons of experience and the check to explore something new.
Other Careers In The Wine Industry
Let’s say you love wine but maybe you don’t think you have the chops to be an enologist. If so, there other avenues available. Here are a few below:
Tasting Room Staff Member
If you love being around people and chatting about wine, this might be the position for you. Working in a tasting room requires you to pour wine for guests, schedule appointments, and greet people as they come in. The job positions range from entry-level to manager and include a number of different responsibilities. You must be a people person who can create a fun and safe working environment.
Most people enjoy wine, and it’s not hard to sell, but the product has to get into the right hands. Fortunately, most wineries stick to making wine rather than selling it—which opens up new job opportunities. If you think you have what it takes to market wine, look for a job at a public relations company or directly through a winery. Moreover, large wine businesses have an internal marketing team to help them appeal to consumers and retailers.
All you need is a background in marketing to snag a job in wine marketing. It’s generally an easy transition if you have some experience rather than none at all.
If you don’t live in a wine region, you can still find work in the hospitality industry. Most people with a background in service or retail get employment by receiving wine training. It’s essential to know what people like to drink and the different types of wine brands. Usually, you’ll get jobs at tasting events or restaurants who hire bartenders and servers. Plus, serving gigs are sometimes open for wine festivals and other gatherings.
Another good option for people who don’t live in a wine region is to be a supplier or distributor. Once the wine is made and tested by the enologist, it has to get into the retailers such as stores, restaurants, bars, and hotels. This job is perfect for individuals who enjoy driving and traveling and who also have great negotiating skills.
You could be apart of the beginning stages of the winemaking process. Many wineries need help during the busy harvest season and they look for people who have a flexible schedule. The job requires long hours but it provides experience and knowledge of all phases of wine production.
How Is Wine Made?
Now that you know a little more about what goes on inside the world of wine, you still may have that burning question—how is wine made? Well, there are a few detailed steps but we’ll give you a basic breakdown. Check out the info below:
Pick The Grapes
Obviously, this is the primary step after ensuring the grapes are grown properly. In most vineyards, they pick the white grapes first and move on to the red ones. After collecting the grapes, they are transported to the crushing machine so that the juice is created.
Crushing The Grapes
In most large wineries, a destemmer is used to remove the stems from the grapes before crushing them. However, the crushing process is different between the white grapes and the reds.
This is the technique that converts sugar into alcohol, and for both wines, yeast is added to encourage fermentation. On the other hand, carbon dioxide is released in red wine during fermentation which makes the grape skins rise. Afterwards, the grapes are pressed to clarify the wine.
Depending on the wine that’s being made, the time of aging varies. It can age for a few months or a few years, and they sit in various kinds of barrels.
After everything is done, the last step is to bottle the wine. White wines age quicker, so they’re usually bottled first, while red wines can take up to two years.
Final Thoughts On Being An Enologist
Being an enologist requires being a bit of a scientist, but isn’t it great to know there’s another cool career out there that involves science and wine? You can’t get much better than that. This is one of those jobs that will instantly make people perk up when you tell them what you do for a living. Sure, you’ll need post-secondary education to obtain a career in this field, but you can always can some experience while you’re receiving your certification. Try to learn as much as possible, and if you don’t live in a wine region, move to one! You won’t regret it. This is a job that will truly make you feel rewarded.