Degrees now central to viticulture careers

SONIA BEAL
Last updated 15:16 15/11/2012

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A tertiary qualification in the viticulture industry is increasingly important for people who want to further their career in the field, says Marlborough Winegrowers Association chairman Dominic Pecchenino.

A viticulture degree had become the benchmark requirement as part of the industry's "evolution", Mr Pecchenino said.

"We see a lot more tertiary educated people coming through.

"If you want to further your career in the industry or become a viticulture manager, for example, for one of the big wine companies, you need to have the degree.

"For people working for some of the bigger companies, they'll only go so far - it's as far as they're going to get if they don't have one."

It was fortunate that students could study the Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology/Lincoln University Bachelor of Viticulture and Oenology in Blenheim, he said.

There were always viticulture jobs available in Marlborough but higher, managerial positions tended to come up only post-harvest in May or June.

Heather Battersby, of wine industry recruitment specialists Battersby HR Consulting, said those who failed to get a job in the industry tended to be unqualified or under-qualified.

"They're not necessarily what employers are looking for," she said.

More viticulture jobs than usual had been advertised on the company's website winejobsonline.com over the past few months.

But positions were hard to fill because people were hesitant to move and concerned about job security, she said.

About 70 to 80 per cent of the company's clients were New Zealanders. Mrs Battersby had never heard of New Zealand viticulture graduates being unable to find employment here.

Anita Overgaauw, of Blenheim, completed a viticulture and oenology degree from Lincoln University in Christchurch in 2010.

Her qualification and industry work experience during the course allowed her to take on 18 months' work in various roles such as lab technician, cellar hand and assistant winemaker at Indevin, she said.

"I wouldn't have been able to get to where I am today without it."

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- The Marlborough Express

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