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Director of Winemaking

WineTalent is working with our client, Oliver Winery and Vineyards, on a Director of Winemaking position at their headquarters in Bloomington, Indiana.

About the Company:  Founded in 1972, Oliver Winery is now one of the largest wineries in the U.S., having recently been recognized as the 29th ranked winery in the US based on size and also possesses a leading growth rate. Oliver’s high quality, innovative and consumer-focused approach to winemaking continues to attract new fans across the U.S. with products such as Oliver Blueberry Moscato. Boosted by its enhanced footprint, increased points of distribution and partnerships with national retailers, Oliver Winery finished 2020 with over 700,000 cases sold and a 40% year-over-year growth rate. Oliver is aggressively investing in capacity and organization capabilities to continue to fuel leadership performance.

About the Position:  The Director of Winemaking is responsible for overall leadership, stylistic and technical direction, and coordination of all winemaking at Oliver Winery. This includes crafting and bottling world-class wines, while upholding quality and food safety standards. This position develops and manages winemaking and bottling strategies and protocols to meet Winery goals. In addition, this person will be responsible for strategic collaboration on long term equipment and building projects. Additionally, this role serves as a spokesperson for Oliver Winery’s brand with media and winery visitors.

ESSENTIAL FUNCTIONS & RESPONSIBILITIES:

Winemaking & Bottling

  • Oversee winemaking process and coordinate activities across all functions as they relate to quality winemaking: crush, fermentation, racking, blending, fining, filtration, barrel maintenance, general sanitation, and bottling to achieve established winemaking goals.
  • Follow well established stylistic philosophy with Oliver Winery’s winemaking program, while creating a culture of best practices, quality, and innovation.
  • Develop and direct five-year winemaking plan to produce and deliver forecasted volumes of products for each Winery brand.
  • Ensure wine production and inventory stay aligned with sales forecast and optimal inventory levels.
  • Oversee production schedules to ensure planned production goals are met.
  • Responsible for education initiatives for cellar, bottling, and vineyard teams, with regard to wines, equipment, and processing methods and technologies.

Viticulture & Sourcing

  • Direct and monitor sourcing of all necessary fruit to meet quality requirements and business needs.
  • Collaborate with vineyard managers to ensure viticultural practices support winemaking goals at Creekbend Vineyard and with external growing partners.
  • Establish and oversee pruning and harvest strategies with Creekbend vineyard manager.
  • Lead winemaking team in staying informed on industry trends in regard to new winemaking styles, packaging, equipment capabilities, ingredients, etc. to meet Winery quality and budgetary goals.

Evolutions with Innovation

  • Stay abreast of industry product trends, regularly experiment with new product concepts, and bring this winemaking perspective to collaborative work with the Innovations & Strategy team.
  • Cooperatively make decisions that support the overall Winery for long term sustainability and profitable growth.
  • Drive innovation with winemaking process, techniques and capabilities as the Winery grows to promote efficiencies and quality with team and products across Winery operations.

Quality, Safety, & Risk Mitigation

  • Ultimately responsible for overall wine quality.
  • Responsible for continued evolution of winemaking techniques and practices that support the Winery’s stylistic philosophies and maximize the quality of wines produced from vineyard to bottle.
  • With Director of Operations, take a leadership role in development, implementation, and maintenance of food safety programs.
  • Possess expert knowledge and understanding of winemaking techniques and practices and their impact on these sensory perceptions.
  • Possess advanced wine tasting skills and a well-developed palate, including ability to detect and discriminate subtle differences in wine, such as acidity, alcohol, tannins, fruit and wood flavors, textural and mouth feel elements, and wine flaws (oxidation, spoilage, hydrogen sulfide).
  • Responsible for risk management and mitigation within the winemaking operation, including: identification and assessment, mitigation planning and implementation of strategies, and progress monitoring.

Compliance and Scheduling

  • Ensure accurate winemaking government recordkeeping and reporting for harvest, cellar/bottling operations, and bottled/bulk inventories is adhered to in accordance with regulations.
  • Stay up to date on compliance requirements and laws and implement any changes to Winery practices as needed.

Supervision, Leadership & Performance Culture

  • Provide senior leadership for winemaking teams and processes to coordinate effort and deliver prescribed results, including oversight of lab, cellar, and bottling activities. This includes analysis and discernment for wise decision making amongst complex variables across the manufacturing operation.
  • Lead and supervise senior level winemaking and vineyard staff.
  • Provide support and training for employees, building a culture based on managing risk with responsibility and accountability and encouraging open communication with employees on quality, safety, and environmental issues.
  • Lead a strong performance-based culture that measures and strives to continuously improve results through a “lean/six sigma” framework and using data, insight, and root cause analysis.
  • Develop and sustain professional relationships with key business partners, both internally and externally.

Planning & Budgeting

  • Develop and manage to annual and long-term operational budgets. Make appropriate adjustments when variances occur.
  • In collaboration with winemaking and vineyard operations management, draft and deliver goals in winemaking and vineyard department plans.
  • In collaboration with winemaking operations management, participate in construction and equipment planning and purchases.
  • In collaboration with vineyard and winemaking operations management, identify and consider new strategies to improve vineyard efficiencies and grape quality as it relates to winemaking quality.

Brand Ambassador

  • Serve as public face of the Winery and as a wine subject matter expert.
  • Represent the winery with promotional activities and tours, both on and off site.
  • Meet with and entertain wine media, writers, key industry personnel, VIPS, and other important winery guests.
  • Participate in education programs and hands-on experiences for winery staff.
  • Be a passionate advocate for Oliver wine.

QUALIFICATIONS/REQUIREMENTS:

  • Significant hands-on winemaking experience, with increasing responsibility, producing wine at large scale. 10+ years required.
  • Current knowledge of winemaking techniques and analytical methods.
  • BS in Enology, Chemistry or related technical field.
  • Strong creative and analytical thinker. Excellent problem-solving ability.
  • Financial management/business acumen. Experience setting department plans and budget.
  • Strong verbal, written, and presentation skills. Ability to interact effectively with senior leadership and present convincing arguments diplomatically.
  • Ability to represent the Winery externally to press, trade, and guests.
  • Experience leading, managing and developing staff.
  • Experience with Microsoft Office and winemaking software.
  • Experience leading vendor negotiations.
  • Passion for and interest in wine industry.
  • Ability to prioritize and multitask effectively.
  • Lean manufacturing experience/knowledge a plus.
  • Ability to lift or move a minimum of 50 pounds regularly.
  • Possession of a valid driver’s license and ability to be insured on company vehicles.

SUCCESS FACTORS/JOB COMPETENCIES:

  • Excel at problem solving/troubleshooting. Agile responsiveness to developments within a dynamic manufacturing operation.
  • Possess strong leadership skills with ability to motivate and mentor members of winemaking team in positive manner, while holding team accountable to Winery standards.
  • Advanced wine tasting skills and palate development with ability to detect and discriminate subtle differences in wine.
  • Think strategically with ability to attend to details and be highly organized. Will not lose sight of overall goals.
  • Scrutinize plans and make decisions that will uphold Winery standards.
  • Show good judgment, initiative, and integrity, and make hard decisions when necessary.
  • Seek new knowledge and experiences to enhance value as Oliver Winery employee.
  • Interact collaboratively with customers and vendors, as well as fellow employees and winery managers.
  • Take ownership of responsibilities, with can-do attitude.
  • Communicate in a persuasive and constructive manner that leads to positive change.
  • Use facts to measure performance and make changes when necessary.

Employee Benefits & Perks:

  • This is a full-time, salaried position.
  • Comprehensive health, vision, dental, and supplemental benefit packages.
  • Employer 401(k) matching program of up to 6% of annual compensation.
  • Generous PTO and Paid Holidays.
  • Paid training and meetings. Opportunities for professional development.
  • Access to our award-winning Live Well wellness program featuring fitness reimbursements, charitable giving matches, and education on topics including financial health, physical wellbeing, and more.
  • Generous employee discount on wine, food and merchandise.
  • Relocation assistance available.

About WineTalent:  WineTalent is a wine industry focused recruitment company. We work closely with our clients and our job seekers to find the right fit of talents, experience and work environment. All inquiries will be kept strictly confidential.

Please email resume and all inquiries to amy@winetalent.net  

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