Guide for aspiring winemakers
Whoever wants to become a winegrower. The essential ingredients: to be curious, hardworking, well surrounded and above all extraordinarily passionate! Are you fond of the idea of taking the plunge? This little guide is for you.
Becoming a winegrower: a plunge that can be planned
Being a winegrower is above all being an entrepreneur. And all entrepreneurs will tell you, to lay a solid foundation for an entrepreneurial project, you need a good business plan.
Before putting your hands in the earth to plant your first vines, a few hours behind your computer are necessary to write your business plan and prepare your financial package.
Yvan Quirion, from Domaine St-Jacques, explains:
« Being a winemaker in Quebec means above all being an entrepreneur who will compete against 15,000 high-quality foreign wines that are sold at the SAQ, in restaurants, bars and grocery stores. You have to be ready to work hard to find your place through all these foreign brands that have been firmly established here for a long time. It’s an exciting, demanding and stimulating job, with little respite, but it’s still one of the most beautiful jobs in the world! »
Photo: Yvan Quirion, Domaine St-Jacques
You should also know that the alcoholic beverage sector is one of the most regulated in Quebec. Before launching into a vacuum and building your cellar, it is essential to inform yourself about the laws, regulations and taxation levels very specific to this industry, as well as about the compulsory permits that you will have to avail yourself.
Finally, in addition to provincial ministries, many organizations revolve around the Quebec wine industry, many of which are essential to know.
Winegrower, a multifaceted profession
Being a winegrower is a bit like being a superhero using different powers depending on the tasks at hand.
Photo: Anne-Marie Lemire, Vignoble Leon Courville Vigneron
How to explain it? When you own a vineyard, you come across many sectors: production (viticulture), processing (vinification), distribution (sale), and for some: agrotourism. The winemaker even turns into a meteorologist at his leisure! Under these conditions, it is imperative that he develops skills and knowledge in each of these spheres.
Anne-Marie Lemire, from Léon Courville Vigneron, observes :
« In France, people can do the different wine professions separately, but in Quebec, we have to do everything. In the fields, you are a farmer and you have to master the pruning of the vines, the treatments, knowing how to repair a tractor … In the cellar, you have the “cooking” and “chemistry” aspects to know. Mother Nature brings us something different each year that we have to adapt to. If you have a store, you also have the “sales” aspect to take care of. »
« People expect you to be there to talk to them. You have to be good at everything, but at the same time, you never get bored. Winegrower is a profession far from being redundant! It is a creative environment in which there is a lot of room to grow. You work outdoors, you meet extraordinary people and, on top of that, you transform a product that people love! »
Knowing how to surround yourself well, the key ingredient
Do you already feel overwhelmed by the weight of responsibilities? Don’t be put off by the magnitude of the task. Being a winegrower also means knowing how to reach out to several pairs of arms.
Photo: Josée Léger et Sébastien Daoust, vignoble Les Bacchantes
In the wine industry, the spirit of collaboration is very present. Knowing how to surround yourself well means finding the right experts and the right suppliers for each sector. An agronomist will help you in the fields, an oenologist will advise you in the cellar. Your family and friends will be invaluable allies during the harvest period, and during bottling and labeling sessions. Treat them with small onions. They will give it back to you.
« If you are just starting out, are you looking for a winegrower sponsor. Find a vineyard that inspires you, either through its wines or through its approach as a business. Or simply because you have hooks with the owner! Whatever the reason, find yourself someone you can trust, ”advises Sébastien Daoust, from vignoble Les Bacchantes.
Sébastien pursues :
« Most winegrowers will agree to coach you. From planning the first vines to be planted to marketing the first vintages, there are 10,000 traps you shouldn’t fall into. And 9,990 of them have already been experienced by another winegrower! »
The Conseil des vins du Québec, a precious accomplice of your wine aspirations
No, being a winegrower is not easy. But it is an extremely rewarding job that allows you to be in contact with nature and, above all, makes people happy. What more could you ask for ?!
Want to take up the challenge? The Conseil des vins du Québec is a precious resource to turn to. Contact us today! We have a wealth of information for you!