It’s that time of year: wineries throughout the valley are recruiting staff for their tasting rooms, those friendly people behind the bar who greet you and lead you through a tasting of the bottles open that day.
It’s also when people who have dreams of working in a wine shop start asking how to get a job at a winery.
I’ve been on both sides, as a taster and often an impromptu tour guide, as well as pouring for several wineries over nearly a decade either on site at the winery or at special events. Looking for a gig at your favourite winery? Chances are they are currently hiring. You can increase your chances of getting a job – full or part time – with a few tips.
First, get your Serving It Right certificate. It’s easy to do online, and teaches you the basics of serving alcohol in B.C. It’s a requirement for many reasons. Want to drive a car? You go and get your license. Want to pour wine for the public? You go and get Serving It Right.
Second, invest in a bit of education. Your application will go to the top of the pile if you have taken a WSET class or two. This is the Wine and Spirit Education Trust, and having the Level 1 certificate, usually a one-day class, will give you some basics. Getting serious about winery work? Go for Level 2 and 3; the latter was the hardest exam I have ever written.
Have a look at a few classes at Okanagan College, particularly the Wine Sales Certificate program, or a few continuing studies sessions on food and wine pairing, wines of the world, as well as beer and spirits. Well-rounded knowledge will help you direct guests to restaurants, nearby libations, or choose a wine to pair with dinner.
Ultimately, this is a sales job, and a “people-y” job. The best winery associates are friendly, approachable, ask questions about what a guest likes to eat and drink and what prior wines they’ve liked or hated, and are also prepared to be on their feet all day. It can be tiring, but there is much satisfaction and pride in introducing someone to the wonderful world of Okanagan wine.
Save the Date
April 4, Miradoro Restaurant at Tinhorn Creek: Join a communal table dinner exploring the food of Roma, part of a series of dinners held each Tuesday through May. Each dinner explores a different theme. http://www.tinhorn.com/restaurant
April 6, Legend Distilling: Colours and Cocktails returns, enjoy cocktails while creating a work of art, guided by artist Jenny Long. Art supplies included. Call 778-514-1010 to purchase tickets.
April 7-8, Penticton: The Okanagan Fest of Ale returns with 62 brewers, including six offering estate grown and produced ciders, for a total of more than 175 craft brews to sample. www.festofale.ca
April 15, Liquidity Winery: Have brunch at the bistro, then take in the Adult Easter Egg Hunt in the vineyard. Find an egg, win prizes! www.liquiditywines.com
April 19-23, Osoyoos: Multiple events form the Osoyoos Oyster Festival, featuring dining, tastings, various libations. Weekend passes, and accommodation and VIP packages are available, as well as a shuttle service. www.destinationosoyoos.com/osoyoos-oyster-festival/
April 28, Kelowna: The BC Bacon &Cider Festival, supporting Okanagan College Culinary Students, is at Laurel Packing House. baconciderfest.com/
May 6, Penticton: First event of its kind, The Tasty Chain takes you on a bike ride of 14 kilometres (longer if you wish) to three boutique wineries near Naramata and the KVR trail, complete with food pairings, ending with lunch at JoieFarm. Presented by the Penticton and Area Cycling Association, this is a fundraiser for youth cycling development. www.bikepenticton.com/the-tasty-chain/