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New professions in the wine industry

Rome Business School has published the study “The Business of Wine in Italy. Exports, future challenges and new professionalism.” The study was edited by Valerio Mancini, director of the Rome Business School Research Center. The research analyzes the growth of the global wine market after the pandemic, Italy’s leading role in the global wine scene and examines wine consumption at the national level.

Youth employment and entrepreneurship in the wine sector

As we have seen, Italy occupies the first place in the world ranking of producers, compared to which it holds the share of 18 percent of the overall total. Therefore, despite the crisis, the wine sector continues to grow and offer interesting and ever new job opportunities for all those who decide to turn their passion into a profession.
In our country, in recent years we have witnessed a real “return to the vineyard” by young producers under 25, with a record 38 percent increase in 2018 that has seen thousands of budding entrepreneurs choose wine to realize their entrepreneurial dreams and create or rediscover a future job. The phenomenon of young people returning to the land in the wine sector is particularly dynamic, and it is estimated that wine producers under the age of 25 have risen to 1,200 in just one year, an increase in contrast to the overall figure, which sees a 6 percent decline. As analyzed by Coldiretti, the element that most characterizes the new season of Italian wine is the focus on environmental sustainability, marketing policies, including through the use of social media, and the relationship with consumers, with young winemakers taking over the reins of the companies, imparting an innovative turn.

The current job potential in the wine sector goes far beyond the vineyard and is many and wide. According to Censis data, attaining a degree in enology is 90% of enrolled students, 46% continue their studies at university, and 44% graduate in a wine-related discipline. After studying in this field, the future seems bright, in fact, 41% find a job related to their studies, 20% take on an entrepreneurial role in the family business, 19% find work in business services, 9% in teaching and 8% in public administration. Only 10% of these students fail to find a job in the industry and eventually go on to something else. In addition, 87 percent of students find jobs in Italy, while 13 percent prefer to move abroad, exporting knowledge to another country. At present, according to Coldiretti, Italian wine companies employ internally about 210 thousand people, among whom 50 thousand are young people. But in Italy the world of wine generates work for about 1.8 million people. The wine professions are numerous and involve very different sectors, from direct contact with the grapes to distribution in Italy and around the world, all the way to wine tourism, which last year reached about 2 billion euros in sales. The positive impact is therefore not only in the vineyard, as the “nectar of the gods” generates job opportunities in as many as 18 sectors: agriculture, processing industry, commerce and catering, glass for glasses and bottles, cork processing for corks, transportation, insurance, credit, finance, accessories such as corkscrews, sabers and breathalyzers, nursery, packaging such as labels and cartons, research, training, popularization, wine tourism, cosmetics, wellness and health with wine therapy, publishing, advertising, information technology and finally bioenergy. Regarding youth entrepreneurship, there are about 100 thousand companies in Italy led by young people under 35, and 25 percent of them are run by women.

In Italy for young people who choose to approach the world of wine, there are several paths to choose from, from school to university. Wine schools throughout Italy continue to enjoy considerable suc-cess, and enrollments in recent years have been growing steadily. Then there is also the possibility of specializing in this field at university. In fact, about 20 degree courses in viticulture, enology, food and wine, and nutrition are active in the various universities throughout Italy. In addition, more than 400 postgraduate courses related to wine are active, including more than 200 on oenology and a hundred to become sommeliers.

New professional outlets in the wine industry: from Wine Hunter to Brand Ambassador

Thus, as we have seen, given the complexity of the wine supply chain and the interest that an increasing number of people are directing to it-accompanied by the Web-this affects a large number of sectors and professions involved to varying degrees in the processes of processing and marketing.

Grape analysis and quality control manager. This is a figure who coordinates a team of people called in at different times during the fruit ripening phase. The team is responsible for monitoring the physiology of the vine and evaluates the maturity of the grapes (i.e., the values of sugars, total acidity, pH, malic acid and tartaric acid) as well as their phenolic maturity (i.e., the accumulation of phenolic substances capable of bringing color and structure to the wine). These accurate chemical analyses make it possible to know the product in all its aspects, thus achieving the greatest control of the transformation processes at each stage of processing.

Enologist. The task of the oenologist is to make sure that wine production takes place in a safe and correct physical, chemical, organoleptic, ethical and legislative manner. To this end, he or she must possess knowledge of the physics and chemistry of grapes and soils, of wine legislation, and also of marketing and communication, which are essential to monitor and verify all stages of production: from the cultivation of grapes to their processing according to precise protocols, from the evaluation of the quality of the wine to its bottling, and finally with the marketing of the product.

Cellarman. The cellarman, that is, the person who works in the winery, at the heart of the production process, is a skilled worker who takes delivery of the grapes harvested by the grape-pickers and follows all the operations involved in transforming the grapes into wine, from crushing to fermentation. He has a thorough knowledge of the production process, and specific technical knowledge regarding the operation of all equipment used in the winery. He or she constantly interfaces with the winemaker in establishing processing procedures and standards, with particular reference to fermentation tank management and temperature control.

Sommelier. The sommelier is a professional who works for hotels and restaurants, including serving as a consultant. His or her skills are not limited to tasting wine and describing its olfactory and organoleptic properties, on the basis of which he or she researches and suggests pairings to customers with dishes and courses, but also include managing the wine cellar and wine list. In fact, the sommelier is a high-profile figure who takes care of the wine cellar – supply, stock, cleanliness and the right environmental conditions for bottle storage – and composes the wine list, updating it with new purchases that he personally makes by keeping in touch with suppliers on the basis of the type of venue and menu.

Wine Blogger. A specialist in the wine industry, a good connoisseur of wineries and wine shops and always up-to-date on new modes of consumption, the wine blogger dispenses con- siderations, tips and useful information on quality and prices to wine and wine tasting enthusiasts. A wine and food enthusiast himself, he publishes articles of interest on new products and reviews of tasting venues and wineries on his blog. By virtue of his influence on the audience of wine-lovers, forward-thinking companies aim to contact and involve them in their marketing and communication activities.

Wine tourism escort. In recent years, with the rediscovery of the products of the earth and the traditions related to their processing, an increasing number of wineries and winemakers have begun to periodically open their doors to the public, to show them the processes of processing and the philosophy behind them, and to involve them in a closer relationship precisely because of their passion for their activity. With the spread of “wine tourists,” the figure of the wine tour guide was thus born, who builds itineraries and wine and food routes to discover wineries and wineries, contributing to the birth of a new sector that attracts more than 10 million wine tourists each year. This special tour guide must necessarily have an excellent knowledge of the territory and its wine culture.

Brand Ambassador. He or she is the frontline person responsible for product communication and sales. He/she is the ambassador of the company and promotes its products, history and strengths in the market. He has technical knowledge about the product itself, excellent interpersonal and negotiation skills. He is the evolution of the figure of the “salesperson,” who in the modern wine world has become the key element of contact with customers and, as a result, has a strong feel for understanding market trends.

Wine Hunter. The Wine Hunter is a high-profile professional figure that has been slowly emerging in recent years as wine culture and terroir have spread. His or her function is precisely to hunt for the best wines and signature labels, of which he or she builds an in-depth knowledge that he or she will then have to pass on with passion and participation to the end customer, wine enthusiast, connoisseur or collector. The Wine Hunter’s skill lies, in essence, in selecting the best wineries and customers and bringing them together, increasing the profitability of the former and providing an engaging and compelling sensory experience for the latter. Still uncommon, this sought-after mediator figure will be increasingly in demand in the coming years.