I am often asked what it takes to be a Winery Volunteer, so I thought I would jot down a few random things that came to mind.
The first thing is time; you have to be available when the winery has need of help. Most small Winery owners have “Day Jobs” so most likely the times for volunteering will be outside of normal work hours, evenings and weekends. This is advantageous to us part time winery workers as in most cases we also have “Day Jobs.” Because this tends to be the luck of coincidences it is advisable to sign up at many wineries, then chances are something will match your schedule.
The second is a desire to learn, every winery does things a little different so you have to be willing to learn how they "do it." Some have invested in equipment to automate some of the processes others do everything by hand and each winemaker has their own philosophy of what best suits their wine making methods. While you should not be afraid to share your experiences, do not try to tell them they are “Doing it wrong, because at winery XYZ they do it this way.”
Being outgoing helps as to get on the volunteer list you have to approach the winery. Most wineries have an email list of volunteers and the first ones to reply to a request usually get the job. Make a good impression, being friendly and fun helps to get you to the top of the list as long as you are also productive. Belonging to their wine club and/or making regular purchases does not hurt either.
There are many options when it comes to helping wineries; there are the folks that help set out the food for events, If you have your Class 12 certification you can pour wine, During Crush there are lots of manual jobs that are easy to learn such as sorting the grapes to remove leaves, raisins and debris. Bottling is another opportunity to volunteer some wineries use an automated conveyor that requires little interaction and mostly just observation for defects to a completely manual process where even the labels are applied by hand. So don’t be afraid to sign up and answer the e-mail maybe we’ll be working together sometime.