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05.30.2013  
 

Wineries Banking on Busier Tourist Season

Hiring activity strong for sales and hospitality sector as summer season begins

 
by Andrew Adams
 
 
hospitality jobs
 
Treasury Wine Estates is hiring summer associates at its wineries such as Chateau St. Jean in Kenwood, Calif.
San Rafael, Calif.—During spring, wineries typically hire extra tasting room staff to help out during the busy summer months.

But in the past three months, the Winery Jobs Index based on Winejobs.com postings has soared to record levels. In March, the index literally went off the charts, climbing to its highest level since its launch in 2007.

The most recent Wine Industry Metrics report by Wines & Vines found continued index growth in April with it reaching 275 (59% higher than April 2012), and tasting room/hospitality jobs up 85% compared to April 2012.

Job offers in the other categories of production and sales and marketing are also up but not at the same level as hospitality.

Nicole Smartt, co-owner of Star Staffing in Santa Rosa, Calif., said most of her company’s business is with wineries, and they’ve seen a 34% increase in winery hiring over last year. She said the growth has been mainly in hospitality positions, but she added that wineries have been looking for additional staff in production and bottling as well.

Smartt said Napa Valley is way up, and she attributes that to what looks to be a strong summer. “I think they’re seeing a lot more tourists.”

Preparing for summer
Wines & Vines contacted staff at several wineries with hospitality jobs posted on Winejobs.com. All said they expected increased tasting room traffic this summer, but some were not staffing at levels higher than in previous years.

Joel Fisher, vice president of communications for Treasury Wine Estates, said the company currently has 12 part time and on-call openings in hospitality. Fisher said that’s typical for the company at this time of year, but what’s new is the wineries advertised sooner to find experienced staff for specialized tasting offers such as a hands-on blending class at Chateau St. Jean Winery in Kenwood, Calif. “We do expect and are preparing for a busier summer season,” Fisher said. “With the new, enhanced, high-touch experiences we’re offering, we expect to see an increase in sales and traffic to our wineries.”

Argyle Winery in Dundee, Ore., is looking to hire a pool of part time hospitality staff for this summer. Tim Thielen, the winery’s lead hospitality supervisor, said the winery has experienced some turnover and needs to ensure they have enough staff for the summer crowds. “We are expecting a busy tasting season, and we will have more staffing this year than past years during the summer months,” he said.

Silver Oak Cellars operates tasting rooms in Napa Valley and the Alexander Valley. Tasting room manager Kim Caffrey said the winery is advertising for some hospitality positions because they’ve found the pool of people available for on-call hours has shrunk. Those workers could be finding full-time work elsewhere, but Caffrey said more wineries are drawing from that pool of experienced tasting staff.

Caffrey, an industry veteran who remembers the late 1980s and ’90s, when tasting room traffic in Napa Valley was nonstop, said business is starting to have that same fever pitch. Silver Oak’s consistent style and media buzz from the winery’s 40th anniversary last year helped the winery weather the recession. Now Caffrey said she’s expecting to take advantage of a busy summer.

Another interesting development, she said, is that the available pool of part timers is changing from mostly retirees to people in their 20s who have full-time jobs in other fields but are taking part-time gigs at wineries for the fun of working in wine and to learn more about the industry. “I think it’s a great time to be in this business,” she said. 

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LATEST READER COMMENTS
 
 
Posted on 05.31.2013 - 07:39:15 PST
 
Ah good article as we've been telling our winery clients for months to staff up this year as our reservations and traffic to our site is filled with guests coming from all around the world to experience wine country this summer.
 
Jonathan Elliman
 
 
 
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Wine Industry Metrics
 
Off-Premise Sales » Month   12 Months  
March 2013 $546 million
5%
$6,988 million
7%
March 2014 $572 million $7,451 million
     
Direct-to-Consumer Shipments » Month   12 Months  
March 2013 $177 million
20%
$1,483 million
10%
March 2014 $213 million $1,634 million
     
Winery Job Index » Month   12 Months  
March 2013 253
15%
166
27%
March 2014 292 210
     
 
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