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How To Grow to be a Winemaker Extraordinaire (by Julien Fayard)

The function of “flying winemaker” is without doubt one of the coolest wine jobs on the market. What’s a flying winemaker? Properly, it’s a winemaker-consultant who has a number of wine initiatives in a number of areas. Flying winemakers primarily get to journey the world chasing an “countless harvest” and making nice wines alongside the best way. I do know what you’re pondering (as a result of we undoubtedly are): “the place do I join?”

We requested consulting winemaker extraordinaire, Julien Fayard, to fill us in on what takes to do his job.


So You Need to Be a Consulting Winemaker?

The very first thing it’s essential know is that endurance and multitasking shall be your best belongings, adopted by the depth and breadth of your winemaking information and experiences, in addition to a eager skill to handle completely different initiatives – and your shoppers’ expectations.

“Persistence and multitasking shall be your best belongings.”

Rising up in Provence with a household who has had a vineyard for a number of a long time definitely gave me a singular introduction to the wine enterprise. Nonetheless, whereas I wasn’t serious about making a profession in wine at first. With every new seasonal job my expertise grew and I bought into it. I traveled and labored in numerous corners of the wine world. Some would name it “vagabond” winemaking, however in reality that is the way you study the craft.

Do a Real looking Self-Examination

Whereas it’s necessary to attract inspiration from others profitable winemakers and comply with their examples, it’s a must to write your personal story, develop your personal type. Be trustworthy with your self, your identification and your abilities. The place do your pursuits lie? What are your skills, strengths, and weaknesses?

  1. What are you narrow out for?
  2. Do you need to focus your work on a selected wine area or do you need to journey internationally?
  3. Do you like to work with a small, choose group of boutique manufacturers, a big assortment of high-producing labels, or someplace in between?

This can be a very private journey the place it’s a must to depend on you.


There may be one frequent false impression in regards to the function of a consulting winemaker. The job isn’t a lot about making wine as it’s about managing an orchestra of shifting components. Every classic there are new uncontrollable components that make it difficult to fulfill or exceed your targets with every undertaking.

The graduated cylinder is used create the proportions of a wine mix. A wine glass is the important software of each winemaker.

Schooling and Expertise

In terms of studying the craft of winemaking, I worth expertise over schooling.

Residing and dealing in one other tradition is without doubt one of the greatest methods to study completely different working kinds and new or conventional approaches to winemaking. Being uncovered to variety helps you perceive variations. Journey round, dedicate a couple of years to working with completely different winemakers you admire. Discover individuals who can educate you the right way to work within the cellar, take part in harvest, and help with winemaking.

“Journey round, dedicate a couple of years to working with completely different winemakers you admire.”

A proper schooling will carry you extra instruments to know the method and refine your abilities. Math, chemistry, and viticulture are elementary research for any winemaker. For instance, you’ll want to know all of the plant and vegetative cycles of the vine, in addition to the varied reactions in wine – you’ll use this information every day.

Touchdown a Job on the “Proper” Place

I’m ceaselessly requested how I landed a place making wine for Chateau Lafite-Rothschild, one of many world’s most revered producers in Bordeaux.

What most individuals don’t understand is that by the point I utilized for the place, I had already interned their for five harvests. I bought the internship after a few years of educational and sensible expertise. It took years of effort (and incomes a Grasp’s diploma in enology) that gave me precise confidence to ask for the job I wished… and I succeeded!


Don’t disregard the small, unknown wineries.

Winemaking is a protracted, cyclical course of that requires the identical steps carried out in the identical order each classic, so the work is way of the identical regardless of the place you get your begin. If in case you have the chance to start out studying at a vineyard,—any vineyard— take it! It’s all in regards to the hands-on apply and experiences you’ll take away that put together you to your subsequent place.

After I utilized to Chateau Lafite-Rothschild, my resume didn’t embody any grand vineyard names, however it did have a listing of technical positions, equivalent to working a plate filter, working a forklift, operating a pump, destemmer, and so forth. My sole duty at one in every of my first jobs in Pomerol was to empty and press fermented tanks day by day, and that was it. It wasn’t glamorous, however it meant I may shovel and run a press. As soon as you understand the tools, you understand its delicate quirks.

Do not forget that wineries are hiring new expertise yearly.

Be perseverant. Don’t simply apply to a vineyard due to it’s title and fame. Strongly take into account what you need to study. Discover different corners of winemaking to substantiate what you need to do within the long-term after which establish wineries that may aid you achieve the expertise it’s essential obtain these targets.

It helps to have a level and proposals from friends, however these will get you no the place with out the appropriate perspective. Be curious. Be receptive to suggestions. Be prepared to vary and query your self.

Julien Fayard testing a brand new wine mix utilizing a number of completely different heaps.

The Finest Issues I Realized From My Mentor, Philippe Melka

I credit score a lot of what I realized about being a consulting winemaker to Philippe Melka. Napa Valley could be very advanced and aggressive, it’s one of many best rising areas on the planet. My time spent with him afforded me the chance to get to know Napa intimately.

The common winemaker in Napa is working with 50-100 heaps, however a consulting winemaker may be working with as many as 500 heaps in a 12 months! The publicity to those completely different winery websites gave me a depth of information and accelerated my understanding of the nuances within the space. Because of this, I’ve seen and skilled many conditions in winemaking that I regularly apply to points I encounter at this time.

He additionally taught me in regards to the stage of service you ship to your shoppers, being dependable, including worth past the winemaking, and constructing a fame in your yard.

The Hardest A part of the Job

Whereas Mom Nature is usually seen as the largest problem for winemakers, she can also be predictable. you’ll be able to put together for rain, warmth, hail, and frost. You simply must be resilient, prepared to take dangers, and prep nicely for these occasions by having options readily accessible. In reality, the extra expertise you’ve got making wine below these circumstances, the higher you’ll turn out to be at predicting outcomes (or just being ready!). Your most difficult vintages will reveal your true skills as a winemaker.


“the toughest a part of the job is the truth that winemaking is just not a precise science.”

As a substitute, I feel the toughest a part of the job is the truth that winemaking is just not a precise science. You don’t need the wines to style the identical, so you’ll be able to’t depend on a recipe and have to keep away from the cookie-cutter method. Deal with every wine individually, as reflection of its native land and classic. Make them as naturally as attainable with a hands-off method.

You could resolve if you wish to make wine for rent or wine for conviction.

Making nice wines with integrity to the vines and the individuals I’m making it for is what drives me. You could resolve if you wish to make wine for rent or wine for conviction. As you might be coping with style, it may be straightforward to fall again on private choice, however remember the fact that your private choice could not ship what the shopper needs or expects. Discover a stability between private choice, the style of the winery and the imaginative and prescient of the proprietor(s).


What Makes a Good Consulting Winemaker

Be ready to work loads and give attention to particulars. Everybody begins on the backside to study the fundamentals, then strikes onto extra advanced issues. Don’t skip any steps or rush this course of. Embrace it.

Winemaking is a protracted course of from begin to end, so the trajectory for studying may be gradual if you happen to don’t discover different methods to study or benefit from alternatives that will let you make different wines domestically or internationally. Be affected person, delicate, guide good, and empirically study the craft.

Encompass your self with good individuals. A variety of traits is necessary. Be taught to rent your weaknesses. Prepare them nicely and study to delegate. Settle for that you simply aren’t the reply for every part and be at peace with it. The atmosphere and workforce you create round your self is what is going to make you a greater consulting winemaker.

Wanting Again

If I may do something otherwise, I’d have bought property a lot earlier in my profession, as actual property is so costly now. Proudly owning a vineyard and having a consulting enterprise are great privileges, and to an outsider it may possibly painting a glamorous way of life. However similar to the rest, it has its burdens that you simply don’t understand till you’ve got it. There’s a motive why it’s known as work!


“Signal me up. I like problem!”

Be trustworthy with your self, and comply with the trail that feels best for you. Immerse your self in it. Don’t be afraid to spend the time it takes to construct a strong basis of schooling, experiences, and sweat fairness. There aren’t any shortcuts to success. The longest manner is probably the most dependable manner.

Take your time and do it proper.


By Julien Fayard
I am a consulting winemaker who brings somewhat French finesse to California wines. However if you happen to ask me, browsing the Pacific Ocean will educate you extra about finesse than working a decade in Bordeaux at high Châteaux. fayardwines.com

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