Wine companies starting to recruit
About 15% of vintage staff are KiwisPENNY WARDLE
Should wine companies employ more Kiwis
Wine companies have started to advertise for temporary staff as the region gears up for the 2014 vintage.
Heather Battersby of winejobsonline said advertisements for temporary vintage jobs had increased steadily since she started the business nine years ago.
Offers started being posted in August and people looking for work registered year-round.
Vintage staff would work seven days a week, 12 hours a day for six to eight weeks from mid-March, she said.
She worked out two years ago that if the Blenheim airport were to fly a flag for every country represented by vintage workers, 37 poles would be required.
"New Zealand winegrowers have done such a sterling job promoting New Zealand to the world that it is no surprise international winemakers and cellarhands want to come here and have a hand in making world-class wines."
However, employers wanted to give priority to Kiwi workers, which was also the law, Mrs Battersby said. Most employers required their staff to have two years' vintage experience and it could be difficult for Kiwis to get that first job.
As production grew, companies needed people with specialist market and shipping knowledge to oversee exports, Mrs Battersby said.
It would be good for the industry and students if tertiary institutes that offered viticulture and winemaking qualifications took a break from classes during vintage so students could get work experience, she said.
Lincoln University bachelor of viticulture and oenology co-ordinator Sue Blackmore said diploma students at the Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology had a chance to work a vintage in their second year and Lincoln degree students in their third.
Marlborough Vintners winemaker Miguel Garcia said vintage was the busiest but best time of the year.
The Rapaura winery had a permanent staff of 15 but would take on 30 extras for vintage 2014.
Mr Garcia joined the company in a temporary vintage position in 2010 and was then offered a permanent job.
About 15 per cent of vintage staff were Kiwis, he said. Last year most were Spanish speakers and others came from countries including the United States, Brazil, Italy, Germany, China, Thailand, India and the Czech Republic.
The company preferred people with vintage experience but he encouraged Kiwis with good references to apply.
Job website Seek last week reported that demand for workers in the wine industry drove up Marlborough jobs advertised on its website by 44 per cent in the past month. Of 85 jobs advertised in Marlborough, 26 were new jobs including temporary vintage positions, a Seek spokeswoman said.
- The Marlborough Express