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Assistant Wine Maker Wanted.

Date: Wed, Jan 9, 2008 Wine Tasting Winery Blogs Wine Business

You may recall we were looking for an assistant wine maker for Township 7 back in November.
We received some good response. Unfortunately our short list evaporated due to head-hunting, family committments and other things beyond mortal control. So the talent search had been re-launched.

Assistant Winemaker Required:
Township 7 Vineyards and Winery requires well-rounded individual to perform all cellar duties and some vineyard tasks associated with the production of top end wines at their 10,000 case facility in Penticton, BC.

Candidates should have two years related experience, some academic training in the enology or viticultural fields and a willingness to excel.

Physical requirements include an ability to lift and carry 22 kg. The job requires working inside and outside exposed to the elements at hand. Many work days require being on your feet for the entire shift.

Preferred skill sets would be (but we will train as required): forklift experience, familiarity with common cellar equipment and bottling lines, computer and common software friendly.

Personal attributes would include: attention to detail, punctuality, open-mindedness. Some travel required.

Salary negotiable.

Respond with a cover letter and CV to:

I'm your source for winery development consultation.

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Check it out

Date: Thu, Nov 29, 2007 Wine Tasting Winery Blogs Wine Business

I'm your source for winery development consultation.

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15 Cool, Sexy Jobs In The Wine Business

Date: Tue, Nov 27, 2007 Wine Tasting Winery Blogs Wine Business

Somebody asked me the other day what kind of jobs there were in the wine business.
Here's a few -
1. Wine maker - duh.
2. Cellar master - any place that puts together more than a few hundred barrels each year could proabably use a dedicated employee to look after them and the wine inside. You'll have to cellar rat a few years and then specialize your training. Perhaps pursue some secondary education. Maybe a stint at a barrel maker would be handy. Which leads me to . . .
3. Cooper - somebody, preferably a craftsman, has to make all those barrels. Study carpentry and joinery and then get a gig in one of the big houses in the U.S. or Europe. Then branch out on your own.
4. Cellar rat - slightly above a hose dragger, mostly a full time gig doing all the menial and dirty jobs around the cellar. There is no better way to learn how the wine is made.
5. Harvest helper (hose dragger) - if you're heading into production you'll have to do this at some point. Depending on the operation, you could be doing everything from picking grapes to filtration to driving truck to filling in behind the shop counter. The pay is minimal; the experience is essential.
6. Sales - after the owner decides to hang up one of the hats he/she wears, sales jobs suddenly materialize. Days on the road, customers with no freaking idea, missed quotas, everybody wanting free wine. Pure joy for the right person.
7. Wine Shop staffer - different operations have different systems, but like any retail operation, look for the place that rewards proven performers. Besides the wage, is there any bonus structure, perks, possibility of advancement, benefit plans or wine allowance?
8. Wine Shop manager - one of those jobs where the crap can come at you from above (boss), below (staff) and sideways (public). If you like to juggle, you may want to try this.
9. Winery Supplies - It's mostly 9 to 5. Wineries need stuff and equipment. The lab has to be stocked, the wine shop needs knick-knacks, the cellar needs another bag of citric acid. You can fill this need with your huge inventory and free delivery for orders over $50.
10. Winery Equipment - The big stuff like presses and tanks. You don't sell one everyday but when you do - yipee! Find a line not represented in your area and get an exclusive distribution agreement. Helps to also be a . . .
11. Equipment technician - if you understand how stuff works (machines) you can carve out a niche in the winery business. A lot of wine makers and winery owners come from varied fields and seldom do those fields include the skills to fix electric motors, pumps, compressors, belt drives and all sorts of stuff.
12.Packaging - even wineries that spend too little time on their wine seems to spend an inordinate amount of time getting the bottle, label, closure and capsule just right. Help ease the pain by representing a spiffy line of packaging for the wine business.
13.Wine Club organizer - wine clubs as sales drivers are nothing new. But with the rapid rise of the internet over the last two decades comes on-line clubs that, in some cases, eclipse the sales of the bricks and mortar wine shops in their own organization. If you're a marketing expert with an emphasis on web communities this may be your calling.
14.Food Service - if you have a background in food preparation or service you may have noticed that many wineries are integrating food into their customer interpretation centres (wine shops).
It could be the fanciest restaurant in the area or a simple cold counter serving deli style take-away. Come up with a concept and sell it to the winery with the greatest need and the greatest possibility of success.
15. Tour Guide - get your chauffeur's license and drive folks around wine country. It seems to get more popular every year. There's all sorts of ways to build in commissions to this gig. They're your captives for several hours. Shouldn't you earn something for recommending the same excellent restaurant everyday to well-heeled visitors?

I'm your source for winery development consultation.

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Job Opening

Date: Thu, Nov 8, 2007 Wine Tasting Winery Blogs Wine Business

Use the button at the top of the sidebar to the right if you're interested in an assistant winemaker's job.

I'm your source for winery development consultation.

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Crush 2007: A Brief Look at the Harvest

Date: Thu, Nov 8, 2007 Wine Tasting Winery Blogs Wine Business

The rain is falling and the temperatures are cool.
All the mountain passes are experiencing some snow.
Except for some Late Harvest and Ice Wine crops, all the grapes have been in for a week now for most Okanagan producers.

We started picking grapes for Township 7 in mid-September. Mostly white varieties at that time but a few Merlot growers started to sneak in right at the beginning of October. Then the weather started to crash.

Wine makers, growers and owners tried to make the weather better using various mental powers but to no avail. As the vines shut down, it became a waiting game for breaks in the weather that would allow harvesting to occur.

Indicators numbers like Brix, pH and TA (total acid) went into suspended animation. The benefits of hangtime, like more intense flavours and such, didn't really materialize, in my opinion. I think the intermittent rains (rain, two days dry, rain. one day dry etc.) negated any hang premium.

What to look for: Okanagan whites will probably be great. The earlier varietals definetly will shine. The reds will be a toss-up. T7 growers are smart growers with good cultural practices so we believe our red vintage will be excellent. Growers who over-cropped or took other short cuts through the season found themselves with unripe fruit this year; when these reds of 07 start appearing late next year (at the earliest) taste before you buy! There will be some vintage variations in your favourite brands.

I'm your source for winery development consultation.

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Time for some Horn Tooting

Date: Tue, Oct 23, 2007 Wine Tasting Winery Blogs Wine Business

I don't generally jump up and down in public when the awards are bestowed but, what the hell, here's some good news:

Won a gold at the recent Okanagan Wine Festival for our Township 7 2006 Semillon
and a pocketful of silvers for some of the other titles.

Also did rather well at the Wine Access awards announced back in September.

Marketing loves these things.

My reward is when people come up to me and say how much they enjoyed (insert title of one of my creations here) with a couple friends and a good meal just the other day.

I'm your source for winery development consultation.

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The End is Near!! Ferment!

Date: Tue, Oct 23, 2007 Wine Tasting Winery Blogs Wine Business

The weather is going into its late fall thing so with freezing overnights headed this way by the weekend I've decided to call it all in and wrap it up.

It's time to stop trying to dodge the rainclouds and owe up to the fact that it is all over.

So pick your grapes and blow your irrigation lines. Frosty is around the corner.
What Township 7 is looking at this week:
Viognier (in)
Cabernet Sauvignon (today/tomorrow)
Syrah (before Friday night)
All of Langley (ASAP)
Can you see the spider on this bunch of Syrah?

I'm your source for winery development consultation.

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We stink, and that's a good thing.

Date: Sat, Oct 13, 2007 Wine Tasting Winery Blogs Wine Business

We decided to compost all our organic harvest waste on-site this year. So there's a wild, rank stink coming from a patch of vacant land on the property.

But it's a noble smell. It's the smell of cash. We didn't have to pay to have it all hauled to the landfill by contractors and now we have some interesting 'fill' to work with.

I'm your source for winery development consultation.

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How many wineries can you fit in a phone booth?

Date: Sat, Oct 13, 2007 Wine Tasting Winery Blogs Wine Business

Just thought you'd like to know...
Heard the other day that there are 50 applictations for winery licenses currently under review by the provincial authorities.
Any idea I had that the grape supply would catch up with demand is now dismissed.

I'm your source for winery development consultation.

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Cool Climate Viticulture in Practice

Date: Sun, Sep 30, 2007 Wine Tasting Winery Blogs Wine Business

On the last day of September of vintage 2007 the weather is slate, charcoal and death shroud grey but not yet raining. Today we intend to harvest a tiny bit of Merlot, the first red of the Township 7 vintage, from our own property. Some challenged third year vines that, despite nets, are big favourites with the robins and some smaller birds.

We had a deer kill in the vineyard the other night. Probably coyotes but with only half (front) of a carcass left by dawn there was considerable speculation about bears, cougars and wolves. Not every wine region has this range of fauna to contend with. I recall a conversation I had in New Zealand about the differences in our two regions and one of the Kiwis wondered, with the vast expanse of land in Canada, why we didn't have more sheep? I told them that the roaming carnivores would have a field day. He responded by asking, "Do you mean these animals are just running around loose?".

But I digress . . .

Growing grapes for wine north of 49 degrees will always have it's obstacles to quality. Most of the time it's going to be the short growing season. This is turning into a year where the short season is going to play a little larger than it has in the past few years when we've been treated to warmer, longer growing seasons. This is the year when things like greed (too many tons per acre) are going to turn and bite you in the ass. This is a year when heads-up, intelligent grape growing is going to win out over lassiez-faire vineyard behaviour.

Good management from the start of the season will produce exceptional wines this year. If you're waiting for Merlot to ripen at 6 tons or better then you might have some difficulty.

I'm your source for winery development consultation.

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Weather Tanks, Grapes Arrive Anyhow

Date: Fri, Sep 21, 2007 Wine Tasting Winery Blogs Wine Business

The weather tanked a few days ago an we're now experiencing some cooler than norms type days with little or no ripening temps to speak of. We've had a little light rain periodically which delays the pick but hasn't really affected the fruit.

Township 7 had tapped into a new source of Merlot. It's a nice organic vineyard in the Oliver area.
We expect to pick this around the end of September - beginning of October.

I'm your source for winery development consultation.

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It's the CLIMATE, baby

Date: Fri, Sep 14, 2007 Wine Tasting Winery Blogs Wine Business

One of the reasons the Okanagan is one of the best places to grow grapes for wine is the climate.

Since August the 1st we've had 5 mm of precip. That pretty well eliminates dry farming. The hottest it ever got during that period (Penticton weather station) was 34.2 C and the coolest daytime temp was 20.7. The mean for a 24 hour day was usually around 20.

Today we'll hit 27 later in the afternoon.

I'm your source for winery development consultation.

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Sweet Sexy Summer Hangs On

Date: Thu, Sep 13, 2007 Wine Tasting Winery Blogs Wine Business

Since I last updated the vintage about two weeks ago we've enjoyed some very solid weather with temperatures regularily approaching the 30 C mark from Osoyoos to Summerland.
Overnights have been as low as 5 C and this big swing is prolonging the ripening process to the advantage of the winemaker.

We're getting some great readings from our vineyard samples and we should be close to harvesting our whites very soon.

It's the kind of late summer we've been hoping for: dry, warm and consistent.


We're starting with a small block of Chard on Sunday followed by 17 tons on Monday and Tuesday of the same.

Game on!

I'm your source for winery development consultation.

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Winery Owner Exercise: Grow Some Tomatoes

Date: Sat, Sep 1, 2007 Wine Tasting Winery Blogs Wine Business

The public asks a lot of questions about the vineyards. Some of the simplest queries have answers that are potentially the most profound.

"Why do you grow the vines like that?"

One of the answers is : "Because the last guy did it like that".

Truth is that a number of cultural practices are in play to achieve a common goal: control. This precept is applicable to the greater farming community and the wine business as well.

Left to their own devices, the average grape vine would simply sprawl across the ground in a haphazard way. Occasionally it would train up a tree trunk or other fixed vertical support but for the most part the vine is content to simply spread to the area of least resistance.

For somebody who needs to harvest high quality grapes this kind of vine behaviour would be a chaotic disaster. Planting a lot of vines and then being unable to tend them would result in wildly varied bunch quality and an almost impossible harvest routine.

Good vineyard management is an analogy for a good winery business. It's about good planning, research, decision making and follow through. There's no point in creating a mountain of grapes if the processing or sales contracts haven't been planned. At some point there's going to be trouble if the planning is not in place.

Let's digress and talk about tomatoes. My family and I love vine-ripened tomatoes. We also love the unusual varieties. So my son and I planned to grow a plot of tomatoes this year. We decided to begin with greenhouse starters. On our trip to the nursery I had 20 separate plants before I started to ponder the number of tomatoes that would potentially yield.

Who was going to look after these tomatoes (farmer)? Who is going to eat these tomatoes (market)? Which tomatoes will be more popular (PR)?

After some sober thought, I planted only eight different plants and we're getting just about what we want. We can manage the tomatoes we have without running around and giving them away (developing new markets) or processing them into sauce (new products) at the spur of the moment. Frankly, my time is worth more than either of those activities so the end result would be $$ out and a questionable return. Best of all, a high percentage of our tomatoes are going to be consumed fresh and not left to rot (productivity?).

Currently, there are a number of winery operations in BC experiencing growth difficulties that could probably been overcome with good planning. There is a market for quality BC-made wine but it doesn't sell itself. Failure to perform at every key stage will result in downstream problems that will either require substantial effort ($$) to correct or ultimately decide the fate of the operation.

So when you plant that vine, know what you expect, understand the steps to get there, control the growth. Try it with tomatoes in your backyard if you'd like.

I'm your source for winery development consultation.

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