• Collab Writing

From WINE passion to WINE profession (part 2)

Updated: Apr 27

Writer: Svetlana Bekker


Part two - The Solution


Intro: While part one was talking about the struggle wine people expertise during their journey from wine passion to wine profession, we learned that a career change is not just normal but also possible, the second part is going to talk about how we should do it. This part is not going to “cure” all the points of your struggle, but I hope it will ease the pain by providing you some “painkillers” to deal with the barriers in this journey.


When I started, my first barrier was that I didn’t know how this industry works. Yes, of course I was drinking wines and speaking with wine professionals, but I still was clueless about which part will I take in this puzzle. Which jobs are out there if not the main ones – Winemaker or a Sommelier? And even if I wanted to become a Sommelier, where should I start?


"Drink wine, not Labels" (translation from French)

Not a wine Snob.

Only after couple of years of drinking, studying and having interaction with people like myself, I started to understand how things work. Definitely a big thanks goes to good wine people that I met during my journey, that was nice enough to advice and explain how this wine world works. This journey would definitely be more painful without them. Remember in part 1, I told you that the wine world is changing from being a snobby sector to open conversation sector – ok it’s partly true. Yes, there are many wine people that lead this change to happened. Those people are the Wine Rebels. Starting from the natural winemaker to sommeliers and education people like Madeline Puckette that you probably know her as Wine Folly. They make the wine world more accessible. But there are still many people in this world with snobby attitude towards wines (some of them with knowledge and some are without) that even when they do interact with you, they will make you feel uncomfortable and unworthy. For young professional it’s a lot to take on. I met such wine-snobs during my wine journey, let’s just say that this world is a small place and karma is a bitch.


I could say with a total confidence that if you have a passion for wine in you hearts and you like to pursue this passion – know that it’s going to be a hell of a bumpy ride. So, to ease your pain, I built a list of tips (the “painkillers”) for you to use when you start to think about entering this wine-world:


Do you really want it? This change is not going to be an ‘easy peasy’ thing. You need to take a moment, open a bottle of Riesling – smell the green apples, appreciate the minerality and think – do you really want to work in the wine-world? If the answer is “yes” but you still not sure how and where, don’t worry, it will become clearer with time. It took me 2 years to be sure that I want it. If the answer is “no” or “not sure” just keep searching for the thing that will make you go “all in” about it or just give it more time.


Back to school. When I was a teen, I hated school. Did everything not to attend. But even as a wild child that I was, I understood that knowledge is power. If you want to be good at what you do, no matter what it is – you need to educate yourself. Find a good Wine-School and invest money and time getting the most of it. Drinking wines and understanding them is a different thing.


WSET is a good example for a good wine-school. They have 3 levels of wine education and a Diploma that considered as one of the highest levels of wine knowledge. Not everyone needs to have a diploma, but you have to start somewhere to understand the wine world.


Wine-school is not just for knowledge. Remember the saying “Show me who your friends are, and I’ll tell you who you are”. Wine-schools are a place to meet new friends. People like you who love wine, probably half of them are working or planning to work in the wine field. So, you will meet people who matter to this sector in which you want to work in the future. Also don’t forget about the teachers and the wine pros you will meet on the way. Start your networking there, be friendly.


Get inspired. I’m inspired by many people that I meet. They kind of showed me the way. Many of them also believed in me, supported and pushed me forward. We only see the success stories but forget how hard those people worked to gain this success. We all want to be rich and famous but how many of us will wake up every day at 5AM for it. Will you?


Work hard, never give-up. Nothing happened for itself. If you want it, you have to work hard for it, you must believe in yourself, never give-up and round yourself with inspiring people who believe in you and you will become unstoppable. Most people are not dedicated enough to give everything to achieve their dreams, they give up, stop believing. It’s hard to stay motivated but you don’t have any other choice. Remember, you said that you want it, so in the end of every bad day, you will restart and try again tomorrow – full power. No giving up!


Identify skills / Pinpoint gaps. No matter what people will tell you about what you can or can’t do, there is no one that knows you better than you know yourself. Know what you like or dislike and where your weaknesses know yourself. Think about what additional skills and experiences do you need? For example, I’m a super urban person, so in order to understand more about farming and how grapes are grown – I visited vineyards and saw how things happened in reality. Let me give you another example, I was OK with social media, but I felt that I’m missing something, so I register to couple online courses that brought me good knowledge and skills. I will attach two cool websites with Social Media Management and Digital Marketing courses. Both are free, you just need to register: Hubspot & EDX.


Let’s get social. If it’s not your enemy, social media is your friend. It’s the fastest and the cheapest way to spread your word and your work. Some don’t believe in it, while I disagree. It can help, I witnessed it myself. Don’t forget how you find out about this article.  but if you totally hate it, just pay someone to manage it for you. It will benefit you when you’ll start working. There are lots of conversations about wine happening on Instagram, no matter if you want to be a winemaker or work at another position – you have to be part of those conversations. Just for you to know 45% of my audience are coming from Instagram and 85% from social media.


Experience brings confidence. Many career-change blogs mention thatYou may have years of working experience, but you need experience that matters”. I partly disagree. Your experiences made you who you are today. Try to transform and use it in your work. For example, I have 2 Master’s degree that taught me how to research and think academically. I use it when I write. Every time I experience wine and learn about it, I do it my way. Of course, I educate myself and try to have more relevant experiences and gain more skills. I visit wineries and take jobs and projects with higher relevance to the wine world. With the experience the confidence with follow. You will trust yourself more and more.


Step out of your comfort zone. Every single Personal Coach will guide you to step out of your comport zone. I know it’s hard and I also hate doing that. It is scary AF (sorry for my French). We all afraid of failing. Even today, I let my fears stop me from trying new things, it’s a constant fight against myself. Most of the times I win. It’s important to remember that failing is an integral part of success. There are no shortcuts. Don’t be afraid, fail as much times as you need to learn how to get better. But remember that even kings and queens could not rule without a proper consultation. Built a support team around you.


Stay focused & ditch the downers. Make a list of goals and stay focused on what you need to do to become who you want to be. I wish someone could tell me that when I started. Time is a precious thing, don’t lose any on things that are not going to bring you closer to your goals. Sometimes it’s confusing to know what’s important and what’s not.


Know that - people who don’t support you or tell you that you can’t are NOT important. Ditch those who bring you down. I experienced it a lot during my journey. My whole family didn’t believe in me, starting with my father who told me that I’m crazy to leave practicing law and chaining some childish dream, followed by friends who constantly asked me, couple months after opening the Wine Shiksa Store, if I’m a millionaire yet. Some people feel uncomfortable seeing others happy fulfilling their dreams.


When it comes to family it’s different. You can’t ditch them but friends and people who don’t support or believe in you, I honestly believe that they should not be part of your life. You will find people who like you for who you are and admire what you do. I found, so it’s possible.


Be unique, it’s your strength. There is no one quite like you. Use it. Remember the people you were inspired by. Their personality or achievements made them a role model for you. Don’t be them, be the best version of yourself. Express yourself and don’t be afraid of being judged, be ready because you are going to be and it’s ok. You can’t live twice, so you need to live the life you want and need and not the one people think you should. I know it’s scary to reveal your true self but who cares what other people think. Really, don’t let others take your dream away from you. I promise that the right people, who appreciate you for who you are, will show up.


Learn the Local Wine Market. If you want to work in the local wine industry, you need to know what’s happening there. Learn about its strengths and weaknesses. For example, in Israel the Kosher Certification is important. Many people drink only kosher wines. USA is also a big market to Kosher wines. So, knowing things about your local industry will make it easier for you to fit in. I learned a lot by speaking with other professionals and by reading many articles about how it works. There are different organizations that post interesting reports. Read them.


Combine things. If it’s financially impossible for you to leave your ‘day job’ to follow you wine dreams, try to combine at first. Many people do the same. Maybe you can’t leave tomorrow and change your current profession, but you definitely can start educating yourself by taking a wine course and start going to professional wine tastings to gain more knowledge. It will help you when the time will come, and you will be ready to make the switch.


I asked 7 wine-people who’re already pursuing their wine passion, not just tell their story (that was quoted in Part 1), but also to give some tips to those who struggle on this matter:

Which TIP would you give to those who have doubts about the SWITCH?


“DO IT!! I haven’t regretted my move for a single moment. It will feel at first you are behind peers and you have to play catch up. Well at least I felt like that since I am in my 30’s. But it’s been So rewarding and a total passion. The wine community has been so welcoming, and I have made so many friends already so I feel supported and in a community that will nurture my growth!!”



Which TIP would you give to those who have doubts about the SWITCH?


"My tip for those who are thinking of leaving their current job and switch working in food and beverage is – you have to make sure that it is the working field you really want. The moment you decided it is, don’t think twice and do not hesitate, follow your heart follow your passion. Of course, doing that acquires a proper wine education.”



Which TIP would you give to those who have doubts about the SWITCH?


“It’s all about the passion, of course it's hard sometimes, but you learn so much in the process. Whether those the friendships to winemakers, to other wine freaks (like us). Your wine knowledge grows every day!


If you're passionate about it, it's all worth it - do it!”



Which TIP would you give to those who have doubts about the SWITCH?


“Be kind and always have an honest opinion. Know that even if you do not like the wine, it does not mean that the wine is not good for someone else. I believe that no course or book will teach you better than the tasting as much wines as possible. Go explore and sip.”



Which TIP would you give to those who have doubts about the SWITCH?


“Hey, life is short, do what interests you”!


Which TIP would you give to those who have doubts about the SWITCH?


“The wine world is a very tough industry to break into, my advice would be to work very hard on your knowledge and tasting.


I believe it’s more impressive to know what you are talking about while speaking quietly than to speak loudly but know nothing. In terms of combining the two (as I still do) I think it can be challenging - for me it’s about staying in the moment. When I’m in court – I focus on that but when I help a customer with a wine - I’m all about that customer. Don’t lose focus!”


Which TIP would you give to those who have doubts about the SWITCH?


“The wine world is a fascinating world, so just pour yourself into it”.




First I want to thank those amazing wine people that shared their journey with us, trying to encourage others. Thank you, you are DOPE!


I do feel that we addressed the most important things but there are of course more practical tips that you could use. Like writing a good resume or even creating an inspiring online profile. Going to network events is also very important, spending time with people that share your interests is good for your progression. No matter what you’ll do next, believe in yourself and try to see how you could bring yourself closer to making your wine dreams come true.

One step at a time.





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