A Career in Food and Wine

winemaking at UC DavisSo, a decade ago, our parents would have thought we were literally nuts to want to work in the food or wine industry right?  I mean, who wants the long hours, which mostly occur when other people are not at work-right?

For many of us, those odd hours became commonplace when we were students and continued to be commonplace once we were out for a simple reason-we couldn’t find a regular job.

Recently I gave my parents a wine gift baskets free shipping gift certificate for one simple reason-they love wine and have been very encouraging to me in terms of working in the industry. They have been so cool in fact that they are encouraging me to go to UC Davis to learn how to become a winemaker.  What gets better than that?

Finances and Giving Presents

So, when I was at my JC, I spent part of most school days working for an online company’s warehouse in Berkeley.  They sold wine gift baskets online which gave me an easy excuse to give some really nice gifts to family and friends, without having to pay retail which was certainly nice.

In any case, I understand that student finances in and around Christmas can be a challenge.  To start, it’s the end of the semester and no matter how good you are with your budget, things are usually tight.  Secondly, you have to plan on paying for your flight or car ride home which can really start to add up these days.  Heck a flight from Oakland to San Diego will cost you upwards of $300, so can you even imagine what a flight to the east coast might run?

an east coast flight cost

College Wine Clubs

college drinking!So, I should start by saying that I understand everyone on a college campus isn’t 21-so a wine club isn’t going to be perfect for everyone.  That being said, college wine clubs are among the fastest growing groups on campus.  That might be slightly less true on a Community College where kids who went straight to college out of high school are usually going to be too young to enjoy an alcoholic beverage, but there are others on community college campuses, who are in fact old enough to drink.

In any case, it’s pretty simple right-kids want to drink interesting things while also learning a little something, if they get to feel a bit sophisticated along the way that’s a good thing right?

College Life in Wine Country

So I attended UCSB, which as you probably have noticed, is in Santa Barbara.  SBCC is one of the top city college’s in the country for a number of different programs as well.

You might be wondering what it’s like to attend college in California’s most picturesque wine country.  Yes, the beach is only a few miles away.  Yes, Sideways was filmed in the area and there are numerous top flight internationally recdognized wineries as well.  To start, no there weren’t wine gifts left on our doorsteps every day of the year as some people at Sonoma State talk about, after all there is a ton of other things to do in Santa Barbara.  Overall it was a ton of fun and I really enjoyed the ability to do so many interesting things both in terms of wine, but also in terms of simply enjoying myself and the place where I lived.

A Career In Wine?

It isn’t every day that you feel like you’ve found the best wine clubs around, is it? I had a conversation with the owner of a local wine bar and while he told me that cheap wine is selling really well right now, that hasn’t always been the case.  When the economy is doing well, more expensive wine sells much, much easier than the two buck chuck which seems to be sweeping the nation right now.

Of course, for community college students looking for a career in wine-learning to market wine at a variety of different price points makes a ton of sense.  If you can sell expensive wine in bad economic times-it stands to reason that things are going to continue to go well for your career ove the long term, don’t you think?

Finances and Wine?

It isn’t every day that you have to explain to your wife how you spent 10% of your take home pay on wine, but I’ve certainly been there.

Spending that amount of cash is certainly crazy to be sure and directly led to us signing up with a few cheap wine clubs in order to save some cash every time we went to the grocery store.  It does bring up a good point though, making sure that you know exactly where your money is going is incredibly important.

For college students that might be more beer than wine, but overall simply knowing can allow you to make better choices over the long term!

Napa Valley Community College and It’s Wine Program

It’s always been interesting to me that so many Universities have a specific thing that they are known for, while city college’s for the most part are known for what University they make it easy to transfer into.

Makes sense I guess, but shouldn’t they aim for something more as well?

Napa Valley Community College, not surprisingly offers a ton of wine classes.  If you had any doubt about the college being in the middle of California’s most famous wine region, that should end when you enter their main parking lot and see that grape vines are dividing parking spots instead of trees 🙂

For those of us working in wine and even those of us already running premium wine clubs, it is easy to forget that plenty of people still need to have some level of training before moving on to more education, or to work directly in the wine industry.

Careers in Wine

I don’t think many things would excite college students more than the opportunity to sell alcohol for a living.

Wine isn’t quite as easy it sounds though.

To start, the industry has long been dominated by the uber wealthy.  Those folks are often pretty out of touch with the average American who is making about 40k next year.  As an example, I recently visited a winery which offered a series of wine gift baskets.  While all the gift baskets were certainly beautifully put together, they started at about $300.  As nice as that sounds as a gift for my mother in law, I can’t imagine spending that kind of cash on one single Christmas or Birthday gift.  Last year I think my wife and I had budgeted about $600 total for all of our gifts.

The wine industry is also slow to change.  Most of the kids I talk to spend an inordinate amount of time using the internet, their phones and social media sites.  Wineries simply don’t get it as of yet and if you think you might be able to change the industry when you first enter it….I’ve got some disapointing news for you!