Summary of occupation
Grape growers plan, organise and manage the growing of grape varieties for the production of wine, as well as for eating. They prepare soil, plant and prune vines, coordinate irrigation and pest control, maintain the quality of fruit, and monitor the health and growth of vines. They may also train and supervise vineyard workers, liaise with winemakers regarding their growing techniques and the price of their grapes, and organise the picking and transport of grapes to wineries. Grape growers may work in one of Western Australia's many highly regarded wine regions including the Swan Valley, the South West and the Great Southern.
Plans, organises, controls, coordinates and performs farming operations to grow table or wine grapes.
Grape growers work outdoors in vineyards, and in most weather conditions. Their work often involves physical labour, such as heavy lifting. They may work in glasshouses and nurseries. They may also have to travel locally, interstate or internationally to view new grape varieties and winemaking/growing technologies, as well as attend conferences.
On average, grape growers, classified under crop farmers, can expect to earn $1 614 per week ($83 923 per year), depending on the organisation they work for and their level of experience. Growing conditions and demand for produce can also impact upon their earnings.
Grape growers use a range of pruning and trimming tools, and other hand tools. They also use larger farming machinery such as tractors, mowers, sprayers and mechanical pruners, as well as frost control equipment such as wind machines and frost pots. They need to be familiar with irrigation systems, and may also use measuring equipment to test the sugar content of grapes, and tensiometers to measure the moisture content of soil. They are sometimes required to wear safety equipment, such as protective footwear and eyewear. They may also use computers and other office equipment to carry out administrative duties.
Qualifications in wine industry operations, viticulture, agribusiness, agricultural science or a related field will increase your employability in this field.
You can also complete a traineeship. The wine grape grower traineeship takes 36 months to complete.
You can also complete a degree majoring in agribusiness, agricultural science, biological science or a related field.
Most universities in Western Australia offer relevant courses. Contact the universities you are interested in for more information.
There are no viticulture courses available in Western Australia. There are suitable courses offered interstate. Contact the universities you are interested in for more information.
It is also possible to work as a grape grower without formal qualifications, through on the job training, but following a qualification pathway may improve your chances of employment.
Apprenticeships and traineeships
As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer. You spend most of your time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider of your choice. They will assess your skills and when you are competent in all areas, you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification.
If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. You generally start your school based apprenticeship by attending school three days a week, spending one day at a registered training organisation and one day at work. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you get a full-time apprenticeship you can apply to leave school before reaching the school leaving age.
If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.
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If you think you already have some of the skills or competencies, obtained either through non-formal or informal learning, you may be able to gain credit through recognition of prior learning.