What Does a Winemaker Do?

A winemaker supervises and participates in the winemaking process. He or she may work at different levels of production: a home winemaker, for example, may only make small batches of wine for personal consumption; larger winemakers, on the other hand, may produce larger quantities of wine and sell it regionally, nationally, or even internationally. Winemaking is a complex and time-consuming process, not to mention extremely expensive on a large scale, so winemakers must be well-versed in the process and able to troubleshoot, problem-solve, and test the wine at all stages.

Working with a vineyard to monitor grape maturation is one of the winemaker’s first responsibilities. The winemaker must then be selective when harvesting grapes, working with vineyard managers to ensure that the plants are healthy before, during, and after the harvest. The winemaker’s responsibilities only increase once the grapes have been harvested: he or she must monitor the grapes’ transportation, crushing or pressing, and fermentation processes, among other things. He or she will also be in charge of blending different grapes to achieve the finished product’s desired flavor.

The storage, bottling, and even marketing processes are all processes that the winemaker is likely to oversee. The winemaker must ensure that the wine’s quality is maintained throughout its maturation, shipping, and even sale in markets. He or she will also need to test the wine on a regular basis during the maturation process and make adjustments as needed to ensure the best flavor when the wine is ready to drink. Although many smaller, independent operations require the input and effort of the winemaker to build the brand name, branding and marketing of the wine may or may not be one of his or her responsibilities.

Wineries frequently employ winemakers to oversee the winemaking process, but in some cases, the winemaking operation may be small and self-contained. Winemakers may produce wine on their own, though it is likely that the wine will be produced in extremely small quantities. Winemaking is a very expensive business that necessitates a lot of equipment, storage space, and people, so it’s rare for independent winemakers to produce wine without the assistance of a larger winery or vineyard. Although this is not a common path, some winemakers can buy grapes from a vineyard and make wine on a small scale with a lower financial investment.