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Salary Survey Report Shows Salaries Inching Up Despite Industry-wide Downsizing


Date: 09/30/09

The 2009 Salary Survey Report published in the October Wine Business Monthly indicates that salary increases continue to take place despite the recession and rampant downsizing seen in the wine industry in the past year.

Most notable of the increases were winemaker salaries, increasing 3.5 percent and vice presidents of sales positions, increasing by 6.3 percent, signaling a need by wineries to retain their highest quality key employees.

Overall salaries in the wine industry increased by 4.1 percent in 2009 (compared to 4.7 percent in 2008), outpacing the national average (across all industries) of 3.3 percent, according to data collected by Western Management Group (WMG), a Los Gatos, California-based research firm that has conducted the survey since 1991. (The effective date of the data is February 1, 2009, and it was collected through April 2009.)

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Tasting room managers received a small increase of 2.5 percent this year, reflecting a leveling off after 2008's increase of 6.3 percent. The role of the tasting room manager has become more recognized and respected in past years as consumer-direct and on-premise sales received increased attention; however, decreased tasting room traffic as a result of the recession has played a part in the lay-offs of tasting room employees.

With the increased focus on improving practices in the vineyard, vineyard manager salaries continue to rise. Wineries are now competing for vineyard managers as they have with winemakers, looking for proactive, smart managers with a college degree and experience. Vineyard managers received a nice boost in salary over the past year: a 4.3 percent increase compared to 2008's average pay.

The Direct to Consumer category is made up of wine club managers, tasting room managers, tasting room staff and special events coordinators. Wine club managers saw a 7 percent increase in salary over last year, with mid-size and large winery managers earning the highest salaries. Tasting room managers received a small average increase in salary of 2.5 percent this year, with managers at the largest wineries earning the highest salaries and mid-size wineries paying the lowest salaries.

Although tasting room staff members have received some salary increases in recent years, these salaries remain the lowest of all industry positions; however, these numbers do not account for commissions, bonuses and other incentives, which contribute to a greater total compensation.

Full results of the survey are published in the October issue of Wine Business Monthly. Click here to subscribe and receive the October issue

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