Viticulturist and Vineyard Hand

Note: Completion of a TAFE SA course does not guarantee an employment outcome. Formal requirements other than educational qualifications (eg licensing, professional registration), may apply to some occupations.

Job Prospects
Openings 5 years to 2020: < 1 000
Salary Range
Median weekly earnings: $600 per week to 1400 (Source: https://www.skills.sa.gov.au/Career-seekers )
Brief
WHAT IS A FINE MEAL WITHOUT FINE WINE?... incomplete, if you asked a viticulturist or vineyard hand.

There are approximately 180 people working as viticulturists and vineyard hands in South Australia. While there exists the possibility for seasonal part-time work, majority of viticulturists and vineyard hands work full-time. Most persons in this occupation are females. The median age of those employed is 30 years
  • If you've been to the Barossa Valley, Clare or McLaren Vale regions recently, you probably enjoyed driving past rows of grapevines, and a growing number of wineries where you can indulge in wine tastings and enjoy a bite to eat. It's viticulturists and vineyard hands who play a major role in their establishment and operation.

  • Increasingly, to become a vineyard hand, you are required to complete some formal training. Of those currently employed in this area 33% have Bachelor Degrees; 12% have Advanced Diplomas or Diplomas; 9% have Post-Graduate Degrees; and 7% have either Graduate Diploma or Graduate Certificate. Around 29% of people employed in these occupations have no post-school qualifications. It is recommended that you gain the available qualifications to get the best possible chance of employment.

    TAFE SA offers courses relevant to this occupation including the Diploma of Viticulture. Other courses associated with this occupation include the Certificate II in Wine Industry Operations and Diploma of Food and Wine Management.

    SA Apprenticeships are available in this occupation for further information go to the Traineeship & Apprenticeship Services Website at http://www.skills.sa.gov.au/apprenticeships-traineeships or phone the Freecall number 1800 673 097.

  • Most positions for viticultural hands tend to be seasonal and on a casual basis, with demand strongest over the pruning and harvesting periods. There is a serious shortage of well trained workers in this area, and undertaking formal training will enhance opportunities for employment in the longer term. The viticulture industry has been one of Australia's fastest growing rural-based industries which has resulted in a strong demand for workers.

    South Australia has long had an exceptional reputation for producing great wine. In more recent times, however, the industry has slowed due to a surplus of grapes - white, more so than red - in the local market. This slower pace is expected to continue for several years yet as this surplus situation evens itself out.

  • The viticulturist is the decision maker when it comes to the 'how' and 'why' of grape growing. They are responsible for creating optimum conditions for the growing and harvesting of the grapes. They monitor the soil, determine the best irrigation strategy for the vines, and decide on the disease and pest control program for the vineyard. On smaller vineyards, viticulturists also undertake a more hands on role, similar to that of a vineyard hand. Under the instruction of the viticulturist, vineyard hands prepare the ground for planting, fertilise and oxygenate the soil using a hoe or tractor and install irrigation systems and trellises for the vines.

  • Following the spring planting, vineyard hands train the vines to grow along trellises, so that all the grapes can be accessed. To keep plants healthy, weeding and spraying for harmful insects is undertaken. Vineyard hands will also plant cover crops on the ground, which retain soil nutrient levels and help to prevent weed growth. Then, its a matter of maintaining the vines until its time to harvest in late summer to autumn. In winter, vines are pruned to cut away old growth and to encourage new growth. It seems a vineyard hand's work is never done!

  • One local viticulturist couple says that it's being able to see the rewards of their labour that makes them enjoy their work so much. 'You really need to have a love of plants, vine products and an interest in how plants flourish. A willingness to work outdoors, and a sense of pleasure in working and communicating with people is also necessary'.

    For further information, contact:

    SA Wine Industry Association Inc
    National Wine Centre, Botanic Rd, Adelaide SA 5000
    Ph: (08) 8222 9277
    Fax: (08) 8222 9276
    Email: linda@winesa.asn.au
    Website: www.winesa.asn.au

    National Wine Centre of Australia
    Botanic Rd Adelaide SA 5000
    Ph: (08) 8222 9222
    Fax: (08) 8222 9201
    Email: info@nationalwinecentre.com.au
    Internet Address: http://www.wineaustralia.com.au

    Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation
    PO Box 2733 Kent Town, BC SA 5071
    Ph: (08) 8228 2000
    Fax: (08) 8228 2022
    Email: awbc@awbc.com.au
    Website: www.awbc.com.au

Further Information

For further information about all TAFE SA Courses, phone 1800 882 661 or enquire online