What they do
Winery workers assist in the production and/or packaging of wines. They may be involved in the planting and maintenance of vineyards, which involves preparing the soil, erecting trellis and irrigation equipment and planting. Winery workers may also be expected to prune and train growing vines, and control pests and diseases with regular spraying.
During vintage, or harvest, these workers may also assist with handpicking grapes, or they may operate harvesting machines, depending on the winemaker's requirements.
Winery workers may also operate equipment to crush and ferment grapes and assist in bottling and labelling the wine.
Winery workers can expect to work in most weather conditions as grape vines need to be maintained throughout the year. Harvest begins in mid-late Summer in Western Australia's most northern grape growing regions around the Swan Valley and Perth Hills, which can be an extremely hot part of the year. Grape growing regions further south can expect to harvest as late as April, so cooler conditions can be expected. Post harvest, workers are expected to carry out pruning in sometimes cold and very wet conditions. Winery workers carry out tasks that can be repetitive and sometimes physically demanding. These workers usually work a normal eight hour day, however at vintage they may be expected to work throughout the night and on weekends to ensure grapes are in perfect condition for the winemaker.
Tools and technologies
Winery workers will use secateurs for pruning vines and grape picking and budding knives for reducing the number of buds on a vine and for grafting. If pruning older vines, winery workers may need to use mechanised secateurs, loppers and hand saws. During vintage these workers may need to operate grape harvesting machines. During the winemaking process winery workers may operate crushers and wine presses and de-stemmers, bottling equipment, corking or capping and labelling machines, and a range of tank cleaning equipment.
How do I become one?
Education and training
It is possible to work as a vineyard worker without any formal qualifications and get training on the job. However, entry into this occupation may be improved by obtaining a qualification in wine industry operations, production horticulture or a related area.
Certificate III in Wine Industry Operations and Certificate II and III in Production Horticulture are offered at TAFE colleges and other registered training organisations throughout Western Australia. Browse courses through Jobs and Skills WA and search on the My Skills website to find a registered provider near you.
You can also undertake a traineeship in food processing (wine) (level 2 or level 3) or horticulture (production) (level 2 or level 3). The traineeships usually take 12 to 36 months to complete. The level 2 traineeships are available as school-based traineeships.
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.