What they do
Grape growers plan, organise and manage the growing of grape varieties for the production of wine, as well as for eating. They prepare soil, plant and prune vines, coordinate irrigation and pest control, maintain the quality of fruit, and monitor the health and growth of vines. They may also train and supervise vineyard workers, liaise with winemakers regarding their growing techniques and the price of their grapes, and organise the picking and transport of grapes to wineries. Grape growers may work in one of Western Australia's many highly regarded wine regions including the Swan Valley, the South West and the Great Southern.
Specialisations include: Viticulturist
Grape growers work outdoors in vineyards, and in most weather conditions. Their work often involves physical labour, such as heavy lifting. They may work in glasshouses and nurseries. They may also have to travel locally, interstate or internationally to view new grape varieties and winemaking/growing technologies, as well as attend conferences.
Tools and technologies
Grape growers use a range of pruning and trimming tools, and other hand tools. They also use larger farming machinery such as tractors, mowers, sprayers and mechanical pruners, as well as frost control equipment such as wind machines and frost pots. They need to be familiar with irrigation systems, and may also use measuring equipment to test the sugar content of grapes, and tensiometers to measure the moisture content of soil. They are sometimes required to wear safety equipment, such as protective footwear and eyewear. They may also use computers and other office equipment to carry out administrative duties.
How do I become one?
Education and training
It is possible to work as a grape grower without formal qualifications and get training on the job. However, entry into this occupation may be improved by obtaining a qualification in viticulture, wine science or a related area.
No universities in Western Australia offer courses in viticulture and oenology or wine science. Relevant courses are offered at some Eastern States universities, some of which can be studied externally. The Bachelor of Science (majoring in Wine Science) at the University of Southern Queensland and the Bachelor of Wine Science at Charles Sturt University are both offered externally.
Alternatively, you can study a degree majoring in agribusiness, agricultural science, biological science or a related area, followed by a postgraduate qualification in oenology. Most universities in Western Australia offer relevant undergraduate courses.
Relevant postgraduate courses are available at some interstate universities. Charles Sturt University and the University of Southern Queensland both offer external study options.
Contact the universities you are interested in for more information.
Apprenticeships and traineeships
As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer, enabling you to complete training towards a nationally recognised qualification. You spend time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider.
You can do an apprenticeship or traineeship if you are a school-leaver, re-entering the workforce or as an adult or mature-aged person wishing to change careers. You can even begin your apprenticeship or traineeship while you're still at school.
If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.