There are many reasons to become a winemaker: a varied job, much time in nature, the wine, the family winery. For some, the vocation has come late rather than early, and yet many cross-entry has become a success story.
Generally, the career path to become a winemaker is rooted in the family. You grow up on your parents' vineyard, maybe even take it over and develop into the profession. But there are other biographies. Those who were not born directly into wine and who switch to wine late in life and from a different profession in order to build a new life for themselves as career changers.
The ways in which someone turns to the winemaking profession as a second step are as varied as the people involved, yet the reasons are similar. At some point in their lives, they followed their passion for wine. The notable exception is Kathrin Hauser of CK-Weine: she studied forestry and worked in the vines during an internship, where she discovered her talent for the vine. As a result, she decided to become a winemaker at the age of 23. At that time, she did not drink wine at all. It was only during her training that she "got used to" drinking wine: "I have an intimate relationship with the plants, the wine was not the decisive factor at the beginning. For me, the vine is simply a fantastic, beautiful and fascinating plant. In the meantime, of course, it's also the wine and the varied work that I like." In her personal life, the change of profession has also been worthwhile for her, as she is now married to Lorenzo Hartmann, the son of her master teacher. They both run their joint winery today.
At first you might be an outsider - a colourful horse. But this soon subsides.
This late love for the fruits of labour is not the rule. For many, it is precisely this passion for wine that leads them into the winemaking profession. For many career changers, it simply developed later in life. Peter Moessner comes from the Black Forest and first got to know wine during his tourism studies in Tyrol: The acquaintance turned into interest and he discovered the world of wine for himself. He first worked in wine tourism in Argentina, became a sommelier and only then studied oenology, which led him to the Arenenberg Winery. Pasquale Chiapparinis, who now runs the Döttingen winegrowers' cooperative, also discovered his passion for wine only when he worked as a waiter in Montreux and Zermatt after leaving his apprenticed profession as an audio and video electronics technician dissatisfied: "What I enjoyed most there was the wine. From this passion came the idea of looking for something to do with wine. But I didn't want to go the way of the wine academician or the sommelier. It was important for me to know how to make wine." Marco Casanova was also driven from one profession to another, whereby his old boss first introduced the machine programmer to the world of wine and thus led him out of his first profession. There were great wines at Christmas and company events and a joint wine tour here and there, so Marco's interest was piqued. He did a postgraduate apprenticeship as a winemaker and changed professions. Today, Gault & Millau counts his Casanova Weinpur winery among the 150 best wineries in Switzerland.
Marco Casanova got to know the wine world through his old job, but there are also biographies in which the first job paved the way to wine. Davide Biondina is a trained forester and as such he became interested in barrel making. It was through this hobby that he came to wine, because a barrel also needs to be filled. In partnership with other wineries, he developed some wines before turning to the family vineyards with professional standards and founding his own winery. Markus and Barbara Petrig, on the other hand, did not come to viticulture from farming. The education lecturer and the curative teacher founded the Chante-Merle winery in connection with an integrative project for people with cognitive impairments: For both of them it is clear that their clients are involved in a "real" process through viticulture, which is important for people with disabilities - for their winery, on the other hand, this means that they can cultivate steep slopes by hand.
For many a career changer, a new house was the reason to become a winemaker. Urs Hauser was drawn to Ticino as a young electrical engineer and ended up with his wife in a house away from the village of Contone. The house was in the middle of a vineyard and had some vines of its own. At first, he sold the grapes on the side, but soon started to vinify them. "In the beginning, the production was in our family home on the lower floor. The premises we are in now were not specifically planned for a wine cellar, but in this cellar we can produce about 35,000 bottles a year and age our wine in oak barrels." Over time, the hobby grew into a new profession. For Jürg Hügin, too, the house was the trigger to turn to wine. The boss of an international event technology company, which had accompanied AC / DC and the Rolling Stones around the globe, among others, found a second home near Locarno in a former winery. But instead of just living there, he handed his company over to a managing director and became a vintner.
Besides the why for lateral entry, the how is also of interest. Traditionally, the regular winemaker's training is open. Olivier Mounier, for example, took his winemaking diploma in his 30s when he surprisingly took over Cave du Rhodan. Another option is to take winemaking courses or to be guided by a mentor. Jürg Hügin found a mentor in Werner Stucky, who sent him to Wädenswil for training, during which he was able to build up his winery. Patrick Thalmann from the Winzerei zur Metzg, whose passion for wine led him to become more and more of a winemaker, learned a lot from visiting other winemakers: "I always looked very closely, asked a lot of questions and meticulously noted down everything worth knowing. Although I did a lot myself, I was far from self-taught," which is why he also gained practical experience at wineries during internships. Michael Rey found a new home at Fehr-Engeli Reb- und Weinbau. He had given up his job as a project manager in electrical planning and worked at the winery until he was offered the position of cellar master, whereupon he studied wine technology.
Such a "late" insight into viticulture is also an advantage for Peter Moessner from Weingut Arenenberg: "You might be a bit of an outsider at first - a colourful horse. But this soon subsides. The big advantage is that you ask completely different questions and have a different approach than many people who have 'always' been around wine." The problem for lateral entrants, on the other hand, is gaining a foothold. When Urs Hauser moved into the new wine cellar and asked various merchants to work with him, he was sometimes laughed at because as a career changer he had nothing to say in the already difficult wine business. But when you make it, you reap the fruits of your labour: "As an electrical engineer, I have been praised differently. However, never to the point of friendship because a client appreciates my work so much." Michael Rey of Fehr-Engeli Reb- und Weinbau puts it even more positively: "There is no morning that I don't enjoy going to work. Being able to produce such a beautiful product as our wines together with a great team is simply fun."