Home page

Wine Makers

At a Glance

  • Have a good sense of taste and smell
  • Have a bachelor's degree
  • Often attend industry-related functions at night or on weekends
  • Work more than 40 hours per week during production season

Career summary

Wine makers are also called enologists.

Wine makers turn grape or other fruit juices into wine. Most wine makers do the following:

In large wineries, wine makers assume a managerial role. They supervise laboratory procedures. They may specialize in products such as table wines or dessert wines. Some may work in new product development. Others work with a viticulturist (someone who specializes in grape growing) to select new areas for planting and new grape varieties.

In smaller wineries, wine makers conduct necessary microbiological and chemical tests. They supervise workers in the crushing and winemaking process, decide how long wine should be aged, and most oversee the bottling process. One or two people may be responsible for all phases of production. They may market the product and make business decisions.

Related careers

This career is part of the Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources cluster of careers.

Related careers include:

Job duties

Task list

The following list of tasks is specific to wine makers.

Common work activities

Wine makers perform the following tasks. These tasks are common to many careers.

Work requirements

Working conditions

In a typical work setting, wine makers:

Interpersonal relationships

Physical work conditions

Work performance


Physical demands

Wine makers frequently:

It is important for wine makers to be able to:

It is not as important, but still necessary, for wine makers to be able to:

Skills and abilities

Wine makers need to:


Reason and problem solve

Use math and science

Manage oneself, people, time, and things

Work with people

Work with things

Perceive and visualize

Education and training

Educational programs

The programs of study listed below will help you prepare for the occupation or career cluster you are exploring.

Programs of study directly related to this occupation

Other programs of study to consider


To work as a wine maker, you must:

Formal education

The most common training is a bachelor's degree with a major in enology or a related field. Some workers prepare for this profession by getting a master's degree.

On-the-job training

Other workers learn the necessary skills through on-the-job experience.

Helpful high school courses

In high school, take classes that prepare you for college. A college preparatory curriculum (external link) may be different from your state's graduation requirements (external link).

You should also consider taking some advanced courses in high school. This includes Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) courses if they are available in your school. If you do well in these courses, you may receive college credit for them. Advanced courses can also strengthen your college application.

Helpful electives to take in high school that prepare you for this career include:

Some wine makers are self-employed. If you want to run your own business some day, you should consider taking these courses as well:

The courses listed above are meant to help you create your high school plan. If you have not already done so, talk to a school counselor or parent about the courses you are considering taking.

You should also check with a teacher or counselor to see if work-based learning opportunities are available in your school and community. These might include field trips, job shadowing, internships, and actual work experience. The goal of these activities is to help you connect your school experiences with real-life work.

Join some groups, try some hobbies, or volunteer with an organization that interests you. By participating in activities, you can have fun, make new friends, and learn about yourself. Maybe one of them will help direct you to a future career. Examples of activities and groups that may be available in your high school or community are here (PDF file).

Things to know

A bachelor's degree with specialization in enology is preferred. Some wineries will hire a person with a major in another field, such as food technology or chemistry, and some course work in enology.

#Checked CA degree statements; still accurate, 5/11/11, cj.


A strong interest in wine and a trained sense of taste are generally required of all winery staff. Volunteer work in small wineries during the fall "crush" is useful for learning the terms and processes related to wine making. Start out as cellar help and work you way up the ladder. Part-time vintage jobs in the US or abroad are good ways to get experience. Reading wine making books and taking related courses are helpful.

Costs to workers

Wine makers usually belong to one or more professional associations, which have annual dues.


Currently, there is no state specific wage information available for wine makers.

#No ES wage info available 7.13 ss

Wages may vary depending on the size, location, and reputation of the winery.  In a successful winery, a wine maker can earn over $110,000 per year. A 2018 salary survey conducted by Wine Business Monthly reported that the average earnings for winemakers nationwide was $93,072. Washington winemakers averaged $84,423 annually.

#addded 2011 national info 5/15/13 cj. lh from 2015 Salary Report; WineBusiness.com Author: Cathy Fisher Date: 09/23/15 http://www.winesandvines.com/buyersguide/?pLev=product&pId=121&articleId=158092
Copyright © Wines & Vines. 2016 salary survey not available w/o membership to Wine Business Monthly so left average earnings as is 3/1/17 cj. more research needed 4/16/18 lh

#updated to 2018 industry salary survey data from October 2018 Wine Business Monthly salary survey report (https://www.winebusiness.com/content/file/salary-survey-report__wbm_Oct18.pdf), 1/8/19 cj.

Wine makers at large wineries and owner-operators of small wineries often receive medical benefits and have their tuition paid for one or more professional seminars each year. Some wineries may offer profit-sharing programs, retirement plans, and bonuses.


Employment and outlook

Washington employment

Currently, there is no state specific employment information available for wine makers.

#No employment info available 7.13 ss

However, according to the Washington State Wine Commission, there are over 940 licensed wineries in the state. Washington is ranked second in the nation for wine production with most producers concentrated in the Yakima, Tri-Cities, and Walla Walla areas. There are also a few wineries in north-central Washington and the Puget Sound area. The state has 14 federally approved viticultural areas or wine growing regions.

#Updated number of wineries & verified info from WA Wine Commission website 4/21/09, cj. Updated winery numbers from WA WC website again 5/15/13; updated from WA WC website 7/16/14 & 3/1/17 cj. included new AVA "ancient  lakes"  lh 4/24/17. Updated number of wineries 1/29/19 cj.

Washington outlook

Currently, there is no state specific outlook information available for wine makers.

#No outlook info available 7.13 ss

Employment depends on the demand for wine, the expansion of existing wineries, and the number of new wineries in Washington State. Extreme weather conditions, such as prolonged drought or excessive sun on exposed grapes, can also reduce the quality and quantity of grapes available for wine making. The number of wineries has been growing steadily. The wine business is also often thought of as glamorous, so many people are willing to work for wineries. Additionally, the emergence of post-secondary education programs specializing in wine production and marketing has increased the number of skilled workers making and selling wine to consumers.

Most wineries are small, owner-operated businesses. The outlook is better for people with the capital to start their own winery and who have experience with commercial wine making. However, as competition grows, smaller wineries are finding it more difficult to get noticed by retail stores and restaurants. Therefore, some are gaining access to markets through small distributors that focus on wine, media exposure, and awards won for quality wines.

Washington State has a large amount of land which can be put into grape production, much of which is expected to produce premium-quality wines. If the rate of wine consumption grows, Washington State will become a larger producer, since land here is cheaper than in California. When the US dollar weakens against other currencies, it may also make Washington wines more competitive in the global market place and increase exports to some countries. A Supreme Court decision allows Washington State wineries to ship directly to out-of-state customers in states that allow interstate wine sales. This may benefit smaller state wineries that have relied on in-state sales since they are not large enough to sell their product to customers outside Washington through wholesalers.

#Made some modifications to outlook to relfect changes in the economy and the fact that strength of the dollar against other currencies has been fluctuating. 4/21/09, cj. Removed number (24) of states that WA wineries can directly ship to customers since had no new number to insert, 5/15/13 cj. Winery direct shipping to consumers outside of WA still allowed as of 3/1/17 cj. Checked outlook 1/29/19 cj.


Other resources

AgCareers.com (external link)
Western USA Office
American Society for Enology and Viticulture (external link)
PO Box 1855
Davis, CA 95617-1855
American Sommelier (external link)
Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (external link)
4420 West Lincoln Way
Ames, IA 50014
North American Sommelier Association (external link)
US Small Business Administration (external link)
Seattle District Office
2401 Fourth Avenue, Suite 450
Seattle, WA 98121
Viticulture and Enology Science and Technology Alliance (Vesta) (external link)
Washington Business Week (external link)
PO Box 1170
Renton, WA 98057
Washington State Wine (external link)
1201 Western Avenue, Suite 450
Seattle, WA 98101
Wine Institute (external link)
425 Market Street, Suite 1000
San Francisco, CA 94105
WineAmerica (external link)
1020 - 16th Street NW, Suite 300
Washington, DC 20036
WineBusiness.com (external link)


Career cluster

Career path

O*Net job zone (external link)

DOT occupation

Strong Interest Inventory

Holland occupational cluster