10 of the best jobs in drinks and how to get them

Winemaker

Name: Nick Picone, Villa Maria group chief winemaker

What route did you take to your current role?
A combination of tertiary level education and practical experience, spanning 22 years and 22 vintages across several of New Zealand’s main regions and including international harvests in the USA and Italy.

What’s an average day look like? 

My role has significant variety, it really depends on the time of year. December-January is a busy planning and preparation period for harvest. February- April is harvest which means plenty of time spent in our beautiful vineyards throughout the country and in the winery. May-August there are vintage debriefs and blending sessions to confirm bottlings from the current and previous vintage.  September-October can include market work domestically and internationally. Throughout the year the constants are winemaking and blending, weekly leadership and cross departmental meetings, PR opportunities, staff management and travel. Yes It’s a cliché but rarely is there a dull moment!

What’s the best thing about your job? 

I’m a winemaker first and foremost so I would have to say harvest. Always an incredibly exciting time and I relish the opportunity to focus on my core role.

And the worst?

Sir George once explained to me that we all have 10% of our job that we won’t necessarily enjoy. I guess for me that’s the paperwork!

What’s your best piece of advice to someone looking to land a job in your field?

Make sure this is something you love. Then work as hard as you can if you plan on getting noticed. Be proactive and up skill when opportunities come along. Develop your palate and understanding of wine by tasting a wide range of styles regularly, thoughtfully and responsibly.

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