Wandering to Perth, Western Australia! American Working in the Australian Wine Industry

Wandering to Perth, Western Australia! American Working in the Australian Wine Industry

I must really be taking this whole “wander” for wine thing seriously. Yesterday I wandered (with a job & visa) to one of the furthest wine destinations from my home. Say hello to Perth’s newest expat!! Australia is not all shiraz and sunshine! Western Australia is the home of some of the most noteworthy and consistent maritime climates in the world for wine. Vineyards in Margaret River, about three hours south of Perth on the southwestern coast represent the largest winemaking region in WA. Producing Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and other classic Australian varietals.

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Source: The Western Australian

After graduating from UC Davis with a degree in Viticulture & Enology, I had explored aspects of the wine industry that allowed me to chisel my own marble sculpture of a career that I ideally wanted. While loving the technical and hands on aspect of heading into the cellar, I found that my interests and passions in the industry were more focused on the marketing and business development side. If you can’t tell by now, I love wine. But what I love more is the experience that wine creates across generations and continents. It’s the universal language that can be easily understood and enjoyed without a translator. The experience that the wine industry provides for it’s consumers creates an achievable life of luxury with every bottle.

I started to explore jobs in California and New York within the business side of the industry. What I found was different strong holds in both regions.

New York: Small concentration of production, massive distribution and import job opportunities, many sales jobs in Manhattan.

Los Angeles: Large quantity of production jobs, sales jobs with large wine distributors and many wine service jobs.

I was applying and interviewing and found that I was turning down opportunities because they didn’t feel like the stepping stone I was looking for. So I looked further (apparently as far as possible).

I’ve been in LOVE with Vasse Felix in Margaret River ever since I started my education in wine. They embody traditional winemaking while targeting a global audience. With impeccable marketing strategy, a vineyard in one of the most beautiful places on earth and an international mindset, they have pioneered a small part of the world into the hearts and cellars of wine drinkers around the world. They are sharing wine paradise with the world, and I AM SOLD.

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Vasse Felix Estate. Source: Winedering

Starting November 1st (ha yes, the one tomorrow) I will be starting a six month internship in the Sales and Marketing department of Vasse Felix based in Perth, WA. It’s not common for companies in Australia to offer internships, but based on the visa options, it works out the best for this position. The work holiday visa only allows you to work for the same company for 6 months of the 12 month visa. Extending your visa includes farm work or company sponsorship.

Vasse Felix was not hiring or looking for a UCD grad living in Los Angeles, but I bought Linkedin premium and started reaching out to the company in February. I wasn’t (consciously) looking for a job, but I wanted to understand the company and get advice on how to navigate the business side of wine. It took about six months to finalize an offer and LOTS of follow up emails, but I knew from the first Skype call that I wanted Vasse Felix to be the Mr. Miagi of my Karate Kid career.

Lesson? Sometimes looking for a job is extremely daunting and seeing that you are 1 applicant among 49 on Linkedin doesn’t feel promising. How I’ve found the most important career stepping stones has actually been dissecting the process and finding the company first. Find a company that excites you and creates a brand/strategy that embodies the way you visualize success. The wine industry is different, I have found extremely helpful and kind people who want to give me advice and referrals. But I would never have bought my one way ticket to Perth if I hadn’t bought Linkedin Premium (since canceled because my god it’s expensive!!!) and decided to put myself out there. 

I’ve been drinking my fair share of California & Washington wines in order to get my fix before the move. No Trader Joe’s deals for six months, I’ll survive right?

After doing all of this research and the information I have learned through networking, working in the wine industry is a huge draw for US Citizens moving to Australia. If you are looking for a harvest or cellar job, I would recommend looking at these websites, Wine Jobs Australia, Wine Industry Jobs, Wine Jobs, and more!! But the best way to get connected is through the people who have already worked or done harvest there. The wine community in Australia is hired almost predominately through word of mouth or referrals. Keep your friends close and your harvest coworkers closer, because they may just know someone from Oz.

I’m absolutely terrified but there is nothing I wanted more than to work for this company and explore the world. Ask and you shall receive apparently. Stay tuned for my big move DOWN UNDER!!! Cue Men at Work.

Cheers and Happy Sipping!

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