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Become a Wine Importer: Education and Course Information

People in many professional positions may take on the role of choosing and importing wine, including restaurant managers, chefs and small business owners with wine shops. While work experience and specialized courses can help build a career in the wine industry, wine importers must be skilled in sales and communication and have an appreciation for wine.

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Wine Importer Education

No one particular course of study or degree program will guarantee a job as a wine importer. An undergraduate degree program in management, business, sales or a related field of study can prepare individuals for the work of buying and selling wine. Aspiring wine importers might earn a bachelor's, master's or doctoral degree in grape-growing (viticulture) and winemaking (enology).

Those who wish to import wine as part of their careers should consider which aspect of the wine business interests them most. Individual programs may allow for specialization in a particular area of the wine-making industry; for example, wine business management can be a focus within a major in hospitality.

Advanced degree programs in viticulture and enology usually have a scientific and agricultural focus; they may not necessarily provide training on the specifics of importing wine. However, information learned in these courses can be useful to prospective wine importers who wish to open vineyards or otherwise expand their involvement with the wine industry. Certificate programs in various aspects of the wine industry are also available through accredited universities and wine organizations.

Course Information

Courses and certification programs in wine are available to individuals at all levels of involvement with the wine industry. One can earn certification in one of many topics or simply take individual courses. Topics covered might include the history of wine, food and wine pairing, blind tasting, fortified wines, international wine markets and wine business management. Certification programs may require externships, and some courses may be available online.

Courses pertaining to viticulture cover many scientific topics, such as vineyard pest management and the biochemistry of wine fermentation. Courses related to wine management may cover topics such as food service systems, advertising, hospitality management and public relations. Classes that one might take toward a general business or management degree include accounting, intercultural studies and political science.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), enologists who study wine-making are considered food scientists. Food scientists and technologists in general earned an annual average salary of $65,340 in 2013. The BLS also predicted that food scientists and technologists could expect about-average employment growth of 11% from 2012-2022.

Purchasing managers who might be in charge of importing for a wine, beer and liquor store earned an annual average wage of $110,200, per the BLS in 2013. Purchasing managers, buyers and purchasing agents, in general, could expect slower than average job growth of 4% from 2012-2022, the BLS states.

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