Are you a real wine lover wanting to get some hands on experience on a vineyard? Maybe you’ve always dreamt about owning a vineyard in Tuscany and want to ‘imagine’ for a few days? Or perhaps you’re a sommelier or work in a restaurant and want to learn more about wine. Whatever the reason, we cannot why not work on a vineyard in Italy for a few days or longer!
Liv worked on three wineries in Italy in 2019 when she first moved to Italy and had the time of her life. Not that it means it was easy – working on a vineyard is a lot of manual labor! But it was also filled with a ton of amazing wine, the opportunity to learn from winemakers, meet interesting people, and work alongside like-minded foreigners who want to lend a hand for a few days too.
How to find vineyard jobs in Italy?
First things first – how do you actually find work on a vineyard in Italy? The main time that you’ll be of any use to a winery is during the vendemmia or wine harvest which is normally between August – September. The two best ways to find wineries that need your help are:
1. WWOOF Italy This was how Liv found the job adverts to work on three different vineyards in Italy. You pay for a year membership (which includes your insurance for working on organic farms) and you get access to the job boards and the contact details of each winery/agriturismo.
2. Workaway Italy Vineyard: Workaway is another popular option for finding odd jobs abroad. Liv preferred to go with WWOOF as it is concentrated on organic ‘slow food and wine’ specifically. On workaway, you can find jobs outside of food and wine like tutoring.
What is it like to work on a vineyard in Italy?
Working on a vineyard in Italy is a wonderful experience if you’re interested in wine. It’s also hard manual work which is important to remember! Liv had a few different experiences that included the following:
- Working on a vineyard in Tuscany at Fattoria Statiano: This was part B&B part winery, so my jobs included helping to serve breakfast and waitressing at the wedding that was held whilst I wasa there! As for the wine side of things, I was able to assist in a guided tasting at the agriturismo as well as serve and sell the winery’s wines at a local medieval fair (in costume!) All up, I worked there for 2 weeks and had plenty of free time too to swim in the pool and explore nearby towns Volterra and Lucca. A highlight was attending an open-air opera performance with the owner and three other girls working there.
- Working on a winery in Piedmont at Cascina Iuli: The best experience of all was my 6 week stint in Monferrato’s Cascina Iuli. It’s run by Piemontese Fabrizio and his American wife Summer and they have two sweet kids. There were two Canadian guys working there at the start with me and a Swedish sommelier later on. I worked the harvest here which meant early starts and long days of picking grapes which was super tiring! However, we always had an hour break for a delicious lunch, and evening meals cooked by Summer with lots of wine and interesting guests. During my time here I got to go truffle hunting, attend a wine festival in Tuscany and Turin, explore some local towns, and go out for a few lovely restaurant meals. I also had the opportunity to watch Fabrizio in the cellar and lend a hand as needed, hand bottle and hand label the wines.
- Working on a winery in Piedmont at Cascina degli Ulivi: This was definitely a more ‘rustic’ experience with a big group of 10 + other young Europeans. There wasn’t really any downtime here, just picking grapes but it was an interesting experience.
How to work on a vineyard in Tuscany?
Of course most people dream of working on the rolling hills of Tuscany. And who can blame them?! It is one of the most picturesque locations when you imagine an Italian vineyard. The best part is that it’s pretty easy to find work on a winery there. Just use WWOOF Italy or workaway and filter for Tuscany and voila! Some handy advice for any vineyard work through one of these sites –
1. Vet the winery with a few online searches to get a feel for them. In fact, I did a video call with Cascina Iuli before I started which was a really great way to meet the owners and feel confident about working there.
2. Ask the owner some questions about how many hours work a day you’ll do, sleeping arrangements, sharing a room vs your own private room, and whether or not anyone else will be there when you are. Be sure to ask in a polite way (you don’t want to come across sounding demanding), but it’s important that you go into these situations prepared for what to expect. The worst thing would be to end up in a situation you’re uncomfortable in and unable to get away quickly especially as you may not have access to a car.
Why working in a vineyard in Italy is a wonderful experience
Liv’s experience working on an Italian vineyard are some of her favorite memories! Why? Because whilst you can learn a lot about wine in a course, it takes on a whole new meaning when you learn direct from a winemaker or in the vineyards.
Not only do you learn a lot about wine making, you also have a unique opportunity to connect with locals for an extended period of time. This is something really difficult to achieve whilst you’re on holiday in Italy even if you stay at a small B&B. Working for even just 1 week gives you a real once in a lifetime chance to connect with people in their normal day-to-day life.
Inspired to work on a vineyard in Italy? Let us know in the comments if you’ve volunteered before and share your experience!