Saturday, April 26, 2008

Winemaker: Dream Job?

I've decided I have information overload. I was thinking about a survey I read recently, and for my readers I wanted to quote the source. After scouring my usual list of reading, I can't find it anywhere--so here goes a completely unsubstantiated post!

Recently I read that winemaker ranks second to movie producer as a dream job. This surprised me--but not completely. Although I can't talk about life as a movie producer, I know enough winemakers to have insight into their job. I think winemakers have similar joys and hassles that the rest of us have. First of all, winemaking can be a very physical position. At the winery you can be dragging hoses, shoveling out tanks, sanitizing the cellar and moving barrels, often times in very chilly conditions. I always joke that winemakers have a uniform: Fleece pullover, polo shirt, jeans and sturdy work shoes--with rubber boots when needed. Not everyone would like to be hauling heavy stuff around a cold cellar day in and day out.

Then there are the marketing requirements for many winemakers. "Meet the Winemaker" dinners, wine tasting events, winery dinners and tours. Often times winemakers want to make the wine, not go on the road to meet and greet their customers. Every winemaker is different, and some love the marketing side of the job, but there are many who don't, and have to be cajoled into going on the road. Eating wonderful meals at fancy restaurants would seem exciting, but after enough of them, you just want to get home and relax.

Along with these "complaints" there are the usual day to day hassles we all face. Technology upgrades don't go well, suppliers need to be paid, employees have issues, the winery owners are difficult, you have to head out to the vineyard in the rain and mud, and yes, possibly, the wine has gone bad.

The upside for many winemaker positions is getting to do something you really enjoy. Being involved in the transformation of grape juice into wine can be very magical. Carrying out all the steps and being able to put your art into the finished product can be very satisfying. Educating your palate by sampling wines from around the world is very important, and enjoyable. Heading out into the vineyard on a beautiful spring day or early summer morning can be a spiritual experience. These are all huge positives to the job.

So go ahead and dream. It can be fun and give you something to hope for. But although the grass may seem greener on the other side of the fence, or the wine better if you were able to make it, there could be some negatives to that dream job for you to consider.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Call Your References Before Anyone Else Does

When I graduated from college I worked on campus in one of the labs. From all reports I did a good job. When I left the managing professor said I could always use him as a reference. Therefore, for years I listed his name on my reference list.
Years later I saw him speak at an industry conference, and said hello afterwards. He remembered me, and was happy to see me.

I wonder now if he did get calls by my potential employers. I probably listed him as one of my main references for up to six years after I left. During that time I'm sure he had a lot of interns go through his lab.

Now that I call references regularly, I can tell those who were recently contacted to give them a heads-up about a reference call. I can also tell those references who haven't heard anything about the candidate in years.

When you are listing references, always give them a call to let them know they may be getting a call. This allows them to be ready, and also to catch up with you on what you are doing. A prepared reference can think over what they remember, and many times give a more accurate account of your tenure with them. This in turn leads to a better reference for you.

Monday, April 14, 2008

LinkedIn in the Wine Industry

After a quiet weekend I logged into my email this morning to several invitations on LinkedIn. If you are unfamiliar with LinkedIn it is a professional networking site. I have been using LinkedIn for the last year, and previously thought it was mostly for technology based colleagues. In the last few months, more wine contacts have been popping up on it, and I've signed up for the Wine & Spirits group.

LinkedIn is an online business networking site. You can create a free profile of yourself, your work experience, educational background and community involvement. Once you create your profile, you invite business associates to "link" to you. Through these links you can find mutual acquaintances and get introduced to people you might want to network with. You can also put in recommendations for your business partners and colleagues.

There is also a subsciption service they have where you can gain introduction to LinkedIn users and post jobs on the site. So far I haven't done that, but it very well might be a useful addition for my business.

Several job hunting articles have recently mentioned LinkedIn. I do encourage anyone to take a look at it, and create your profile on it. It can be a great calling card for you, and also may allow a hiring manager to get a better picture of you and the network you have.