The Australian wine industry is going from strength to strength and viticulture students are harvesting the benefits. Nicholas Schirripa is currently studying wine sciences through Charles Sturt University and working as a winemaker/viticulturist at Casella Wines, where he combines his passion for wine with a sound knowledge of the wine making and selling processes.
We spoke to Nicholas about his experience so far in this very palatable industry.
Besides being a junior vineyard manager for 3 years after finishing secondary school, my first job at the winery was as a laboratory technician.
My father owned and ran farms that included a vast quantity of wine grapes, therefore I have been around vineyards most of my life growing up. I have been directly involved in the wine industry since I was 19 years old. First working as a laboratory technician at Casella Wines, then subsequently being awarded the Casella Wines Scholarship, which allowed me to work at the winery during every university break. Essentially, I’ve been working in the industry for over 6 years now.
The main highlight of winemakers and viticulturists alike at vintage is maintaining attention to detail, ensuring high quality standards. Especially when you have a substantial amount of grapes to manage and need to work around variable seasons that dictate the rate and quality of wine grape ripeness. It’s about learning to be constantly adaptive to different seasons and managing the fruit to achieve a desired goal and/or quality.
Being able to work in an industry with such knowledgeable people, being exposed to such a diverse range of career opportunities and meeting new people all the time. Having a passion for wine increases how rewarding it feels to be able to be working in the industry and to be exposed to not only the manufacturing aspect but wine-show judging and the opportunity to experience the industry in various countries.
Definitely. Through innovation, constant research, and the already successful aspects of the industry funding future research and development, the Australian wine industry will continually grow to become a well-respected industry on the world stage. The biggest challenge the industry has to face in Australia is balancing the socio-economic and environmental impacts caused by higher expenses to run wineries and vineyards, as well as adapting to the volatile weather conditions that seem to be increasingly unknown each year.
Shiraz. It is versatile as a plant as it can survive variable weather conditions and as a wine, if treated properly, can be both individually a magnificent varietal and also blended with certain varieties.
If and when you are considering study and a career in the wine industry, it will make life easier and more enjoyable to have a passion for it. During vintage [season] and throughout the year it can be quite challenging and long hours are spent getting things right. With regard to study, be willing to learn new things and apply your mind to the sciences as time will be spent learning new concepts and rules which are relevant as subjects become more specific. Put the hard work in early and I guarantee the rewards will come towards the end of your study and you will feel a lot more confident and prepared to have a prosperous career in the Australian Wine industry.
If you fancy yourself working in the wine industry, why not study an online course in wine science or viticulture?