March 09, 2005

A Tale of Failing (So Far) to Break into the Oregon Wine Industry

File this one under "getting schooled."

Lately I've been trying to get a little part-time job in the local wine industry. You know, schleping boxes or pouring wine for people in tasting rooms. Anything where I can make a little money, learn some more about the wine industry, and maybe make some contacts for my one day dream of producing and selling my own wine. But it's not as easy as it seems, and sometimes, given one recent experience, I wonder why I would wish the potential horror of working for idiots upon myself.

A few weeks back I see a listing for a tasting room position at a local winery, and I send in my resume with a chipper email saying something about how much I'd love to be part of the team, etc. I get a reply pretty quickly saying I'll have a phone interview in a few days. So the time comes and the interview goes well enough. But predictably the job doesn't pay much, in fact less than I'd even expected. How much? How about $8 an hour.

So I'm thinking to myself, why not do something more fun for free if I just want to learn more and make contacts? I mean, the money isn't ever going to be good and I have a fulltime job. It really didn't help things when the interviewer person rattled off some garbage about how the clones from this winery's vineyards were part of the select few asked to provide cuttings to replace all the French vineyards wiped out in the '70s. I think I missed that little element in French wine history.

Anyway, I kept my mouth shut and thought that, at the least, I'll just turn down the job. But wouldn't you know it, I can't even make the cut for $8 an hour. I get an email a week later saying I don't have the "marketing prowess" or "tasting room experience" to be one of the lucky 3 out of 75 applicants to get the job. This from a winery with a tasting room allegedly so slow I was encouraged to bring a book for down times between visitors.

So that's a little slice of the Oregon job market. I'll be fine, but what about the other 71 rejects? Could there really be that many people as insane as I was for applying in the first place? Are they blogging about their inner frustration? Will this tale of woe have a happy outcome? Stay tuned.


Ben said...

I can relate to this little tale. I went through the same thing before I got my first gig at cellar door (tasting room). I just knocked on doors, trying to get my face known. Persistance was the best attribute I had.

My pay was pretty low when I finally got a few casual shifts. I worked for a year at the winery cellar door before getting an IT contract that paid twice as much.

Still, it was enjoyable meeting lots of new people, doing the tastings and selling the wine.I'd like to get back into cellar door work while I study for my wine marketing diploma.

Hope you have more luck but don't ever expect to make your fortune doing it.

Vincent Fritzsche said...


Thanks for the comment. Yes, it's all about persistance. I have more to add to my tale, stay tuned for an update.