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Job sheet: Viticulture

Job title

Job description:
Viticulturalists are responsible for the growing of grapes for the production of wine.

Good quality wine can only be made from good quality grapes, so a lot of work goes in to producing grapes of a high standard.

Grape growers learn many skills on the job. Vineyards may prefer to teach their own methods so that staff have a better understanding of the style and growing processes of the particular vineyard. This style of training is well suited to an apprenticeship.

There is a lot of variation on the job and many activities change with the seasons. Major tasks include canopy management,planting, pruning, training vines, crop estimates, harvesting, pest and weed control and operating vineyard equipment.

Qualifications required:
Viticulture is particually suited to people who enjoy "hands-on" work and being outdoors.

Subjects such as horticulture or of a physical nature will provide you with good skills that will come in handy when you start working, but they are not essential as they can be learnt on the job.

You can learn and work with a wide range of vineyard equipment so holding a current and valid drivers licence can be beneficial, but is not essential.

Viticulture apprenticeships are open to people of any age.

Training costs:
The fees for apprenticeship training with the Horticulture ITO are currently set at $650 per year. The employer and apprentice usually negotiate and decide between themselves who pays this fee.

Location of job:
Work is mainly outdoors.

Marlborough is the largest grape growing area in New Zealand.  However vineyards are found in many other parts of New Zealand including Hawke's Bay, Gisborne, Waikato/Bay of Plenty, Wairarapa, Auckland, Northland, Nelson, Canterbury, Otago.

Career path:
There are good career paths throughout New Zealand. The industry has expanded fast in recent years and there is now a strong demand for trained and skilled staff.

A typical career path is:
Unskilled worker >> Apprentice >> Leading Hand >> Supervisor >> Vineyard Manager.

Employment in NZ will be with either large or small vineyard owners or with vineyard contractors.

The Horticulture ITO offers a range of qualifications which provide a structured career path. 

- National Certificate in Horticulture (Practical) (Level 1)
- National Certificate in Horticulture (Introductoryl) (Level 2)
- National Certificate in Horticulture (Level 3)
- National Certificate in Horticulture (Level 4) Viticulture
- National Certificate in Horticulture (Level 4 Advanced) Viticulture

Further training in viticulture is available at diploma or degree level.

Salary range:
The base rate for an unskilled worker is about $31,500pa, supervisors about $38,500 including allowances and viticulturalists about $80,000. Many companies include staff related allowances such as wine, telephone etc in the package.

Wages and salaries can vary a lot between companies and can be influenced by experience, qualifications, behaviours and time in the role.

Other careers this profession could lead to:
Vineyard manager, vineyard owner, contracting, machinery operator, work in other land based industries, winery work and winemaking.

Tips on how to increase the chances of successfully entering this industry:
Be prepared to learn and train on the job. You will stand out above the rest.

Seek an employer who is prepared to train you on the job. Talk to your local Horticulture ITO Training Advisor, who may be able to link you with such an employer.

See the work as a 'career' rather than just as a 'job'. There can be a whole career in front of you.
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