Friday, August 13, 2010

Napa, Sonoma, Job Hunt, Why I'm Doing This

I'm searching for a job in Napa and/or Sonoma. There, I've said it. Publicly, for you and everyone else to see. I keep asking myself why I waited so long to pursue my passion. So far, I can only come up with the singular idea that I truly didn't know the depths of said passion like I do now. A combination of attending the Wine Bloggers Conference, being pushed by my friends and family, and time itself have conspired to light the proverbial fire under my ass.

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For over a month I've been sending out resumes and cover letters to wineries and vineyards. My success rate is dismal, or else this blog post would be full of rejoicing and the announcement that I'd found a job. To date, I've had one polite rejection, for a job I was (and I knew it) under-qualified for. I've had one job offer at a very well known Napa winery, but the pay was so low that I couldn't take it and survive up there. Disappointing but not entirely unexpected, a decent enough first step into the eddies and currents of the great river of jobs. Maybe not so great in this economy but you get my point.

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Every so often I allow myself some frustration and am tempted to put the job search on hold, but the reality is that for me to be happy and successful in life, I need to go after my passion. If I were to put that pursuit on hold, to wait until the economy improved or other factors changed, I might never have this energy again. The thought of being another unhappy worker in a dead end job, the implications of that scenario, are terrifying to me.

I'm awestruck by the help I've gotten too, from people I've never met in person to my good friends and family all over the country. Wine people take care of their own and are always ready to lend an hand, to keep their ears and eyes open, to offer feedback and guidance. Reminding myself of how lucky I am all but eliminates the frustrations that come with job hunting. If there's a God or god or gods, or some omnipotent deity up there, he or she or it has blessed me with this great network of people in my life.

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So what's the nitty-gritty of what I want, where I want to do it, and why? Breaking down the generic sounding "I want a job in wine country" helps me figure out what the hell I should be doing about it. I want to work at either a winery or a vineyard, and I'd do basically any job they asked of me, provided the pay was what I need to be making to pay my expenses. Simple, right?

But what can I do? Wine education, hospitality, accounting/finance, retail sales, tasting room, cellar rat and more. Unfortunately where I fall short would be in the formal wine education department. Times like this are when you want the time machine to take you back to college and change your major/university to something more conducive to your passion. Still, the past is static, the future isn't.

How quickly I can move up to wine country has been asked of me as well, the answer is that I can move within 30 days, given the right job. That's pretty quick right? Enough time to do the right thing with my current job and train a replacement, enough time to find a place to live and enough time to pack and transport my belongings 14 hours north. To avoid confusion, when I say "wine country" I refer to Napa and Sonoma counties and the wine industry present there.

Why? I love wine. I'm absolutely fascinated with how wine is made, from vine all the way to bottle. Why a glass of wine tastes the way it does, why one wine tastes different than another, how that comes about, those questions fly out of my brain, exciting the neurons in there and driving me back into this business. Up to this point I've done plenty of retail work, some marketing and wine education too. Returning to a career in wine would help me learn instead of only teaching others. One word I keep coming back to is fulfilling. That is what pursuing my passion means to me.

About six weeks have passed since I began, in earnest, to look for jobs in the wine industry. I do not know how long the search will take or where I'll end up. I ask that my friends keep their fingers crossed for me as I begin to follow my dreams. If by chance you're a winery or vineyard owner looking at this blog and want a passionate, dedicated, energetic person on your team, you can email me here and I'll send you my resume and a cover letter.

Beau Carufel


  1. Hi Beau,

    I just started reading your blog! (Great job by the way!) I, like you, have a passion for wine. It is very challenging to find work in the industry right now. I moved to Napa 3 years ago without any experience in the industry. I started in a harvest internship and am so grateful for the experience b/c it gave me an understanding for wine production that no college major could. The internship also opened doors for me. I would highly recommend doing one. Hope that helps!

  2. Beau, you wrote "But what can I do? Wine education, hospitality, accounting/finance, retail sales, tasting room, cellar rat and more." What you don't mention is marketing and being a blogger is by nature marketing. Have you thought of putting together ideas for some winery on creating and running a blog: establishing Twitter and Facebook accounts; turning their static tasting room into a vibrant social media experience where visitors are encouraged to Tweet, Facebook, and upload photos on the spot; and inviting bloggers and media to a press day? Small wineries might not be able to hire you to just do that but a winery might be able to hire you to do that and work in the tasting room.

    Wine Bloggers Conference

  3. Charlotte and Alan, thank you both for taking the time to post a comment. I gratefully accept all the advice I can get. Charlotte, I'd love to do an internship and am working towards that goal, if not this year then the next for sure.

    Allan, I'm really glad you brought up the marketing/social media aspect, I personally didn't think myself as someone who could do that but maybe I could help a winery or wineries at least get their feet wet. Thanks for opening my eyes to a new possibility.

  4. Catching up here: Allan's got a good point, and I agree with your assessment. You're not a hardcore marketing guy, so it'd be misleading to say that you're an expert. However (!), it would be equally misleading to not acknowledge the fact that you're at least familiar with these things, so I hope you at least mention it in passing on your resume. If some winery told you that they've been dying to get a blog going but don't have the time to set it up, or the money to hire a professional web designer, you could deliver very well for them I think. So, give people the chance to put those skills and interests to use as well!

  5. I agree in that I'm no expert, my background is Finance and more retail-oriented. The marketing is merely what I've picked up over the past few years by observing and indirect participation within the company I work for now. The trick as I see it is to incorporate that stuff into my resume without overselling myself. That's why I haven't quite added it in yet.