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A Day in the Life Of a Wine Industry Professional
I'm not a high flying CEO, but here's how I get through the day.
I’ve seen lots of these one pagers with high functioning maniacal CEOs who wake up at dawn to run an ultra marathon, live off poached chicken and rice. They look after three kids and a 'supportive husband’ while running the company from 9am - 9pm.
I don’t know how they do it.
Here’s my take on a day in life of Dan. A jobbing wine industry professional, with only a needy whippet to take care of.
Most days I wake up at about 8:30am. I set my alarms for 7am, but the dog wakes us up around 6am. I put off getting out of bed for as long as possible. It's the worst part of my day.
My phone is always on the bedside table, with bleary eyes, I’ll mindlessly scroll through social media until I’m awake enough to check my emails. Realising there’s nothing I can do now about any of it immediately, I’ll have some coffee and a slice of toast with skippy peanut butter I’ll share with the dog.
I’ll put on whatever clothes I was wearing yesterday, my scruffiest shoes and walk the dog. I’ll probably be mulling over some issue with labelling, or stock volumes, or trying to figure out how to re-organise the range of Spanish wines while the dog is happily sniffing some grass.
About 9:30am I'll crack on with my day. I have three main freelance jobs, one is buying, one is tasting events, and one is marketing. I have to schedule in study time between all that for the MW.
About two days of the week I’ll be on-site at whatever job during the day, and then tasting events are generally in the evening. The rest of the time I’m working at home.
Including study time, I’ll be working across six days. I do nothing on a Sunday. Writing this newsletter and any stupid stuff on social is around that.
I’m naturally most comfy with being a buyer. Buying is selling too, engaging the sales team to properly support the wines we list. I spend a big proportion of my buying role talking to the retail and sales teams, helping them understand what we’re doing and why.
The other job is the vineyard, I started working there for the experience and education aspect for the MW. In all honesty I’d pay them to let me hang around if they didn’t need me, it’s that valuable to my studies.
This harvest just gone, I spent the briefest bit of my days helping out in the lab, doing some ferment checks, loading the press, picking the grapes, or racking from tank to barrel. Once you’ve done it once, it makes more sense than any textbook.
They seem to like having me around, and think I’m alright at what I do. When I’m not learning stuff, they pay me to do the things I’m actually fully competent at. Mostly cellar door, marketing, tastings and hosting the tours. It’s right good fun, the best office job.
My tasting events are with a glorious estate, big country house, holiday cottages with no expense spared. Beautiful. A privilege to host events on the estate. There’s heaps of stuff to do, wild swimming, axe throwing, paddle boarding, but in the evening there’s eating and drinking to be done.
They’re the most relaxed, chatty wine tastings, always fun and different, hosted in the property the guests are staying in. Sometimes the guests are just a couple on a quiet weekend away, sometimes they're groups of 12 or more hosted over dinner.
Relaying MW level geekery in a conversational way is useful for me. I’ll often drift the conversation around to anything that I’ve been studying that week. Distilling down a broad topic into a snippet of what I’ve been reading or learning, by explaining it in the simplest of terms.
My evening actually starts around 4:30pm when the dog decides she needs another walk. She sleeps about 16-20 hours per day. Walks, eats or demands 100% attention for the few hours she's awake. I’ll usually tidy up my email inbox and plan tomorrow after 5pm.
I aim for about 12 hours of MW study per week, that’s about one full day, plus a couple of four hour chunks when I can fit them in, usually one of those is an evening from 7pm (ish) until I get sleepy or can’t concentrate.
On an evening without study or tastings, I’ll switch off as much as possible around 6pm. Twitter and Instagram are great for that, but equally as much, staring at my phone is addictive and annoying.
I go to bed late.
Some nicely, nicely from the WSET about what a Somm actually does. Much harder work than being a buyer.
For sommelier Dominic Smith, “each shift brings new challenges, surprises and rewards”. However, he has a wide range of roles that you might not expect when imagining a somm’s routine – maintaining sanitary conditions and following dietary requirements are as important as choosing wines. Dominic (aka Dom the Somm) gives us a unique insight into his everyday tasks and duties.
From My French Country Home Magazine, A slightly romanticised view of a grape harvesters day during harvest in Champagne.
To give you a more intimate look into what the wine harvest really entails, we popped over to the domaine Dominique Bliard-Labeste. Read on below to discover a day in the life of a wine harvester in France!
Plus other stuff comes up.
I have no idea how some people are to relentless on social media alongside kids and a full time job. Social is the first thing I drop when I’m busy, it’s never a priority.