Opening Doors (and Dreams) in Tuscany

What is your dream of dreams? What would you really do…if you won the lottery….or suddenly began to dance as if no one were looking? Would you fly into Wine Country and launch a lovely and memorable day, filled with the sights and scents of rolling hills, neat rows of grapes, scenic drives through Italy’s Tuscan wine  region…strolling ancient cellars…tasting spectacular Spumante?

But wait – isn’t there more to your dream of dreams? Does it end when the sun sets over Tuscany? No. Because in this dream, you stay in Wine Country. Wake up the next morning – and a thousand after that – to grapes, and saffron, and olive blossoms in the air. You work the earth and refine the vine…you live the life…and fashion your passion…as a true Wine Maker.

There. We’ve said It. The secret dream…the fantasy within the fantasy. Going to Wine Country…not merely for a one-nighter…but moving in…to stay. Working the
earth…to elicit the Elixir.

But, how do you get there from here? That’s not as tricky as you might think, to see if the Wine Life is truly…for you. For starters, though, experts say lose the daydream of kicking back with a glass of chianti at Easy Vineyard after a day of short hours. The wine industry is hands-on, hard-working, and fiercely competitive, just like any other business. Many positions require higher education. Thus, a good place to scratch is entry-level work in, or near, wine-making. Such beginner-work will help you see if the vintage life is for you. So, back to specifics: To toil in Tuscany, you must have work papers in order. Get a good Italian accountant or commercialista to assist you. Get your employment deal in writing. Even though today’s high nemployment in Italy means the job search may be a touch difficult, you have a wonderful advantage: You speak fluent English…highly prized on the Italian job scene. Your English, in fact, may open more doors for you than your degree.

For example, the ancient Tuscan towns of Montepulciano and Montalcino are famous wine-producing centers with many firms that export to America. These cities are great places to prospect. The inns, bistros, bed and breakfasts, farm retreats, vacation villas, spas, schools and restaurants of Italy’s Wine Country are always looking for fluent English-speaking people who are computer and Internet savvy. You’ll work as receptionist, manager, wait staff or marketing-on-commission. Many companies are American-owned and need English speakers to lead cooking, walking or bicycle tours, and painting and art schools. You’ll find a multitude of agencies if you search the Net on the region and the interest you have…or click to the Italian Yellow Pages. Call the local Italian tourist office – a good source for job leads. And believe it or not, you can also swing a Wine Scholarship to college…courtesy of the American Society for Enology and Viticulture…a wonderful resource for getting into wine making and the wine industry. And you can go online and hit up a specific vineyard. Some very cool winery jobs and internships are listed on the Internet, by such firms as Biltmore vintners in North Carolina…Mudbrick in New Zealand…and numerous other growers, including many here in California. Wine marketing jobs abound – meaning you could trade your stuffy sales cubicle for a lush life, using same skills, in Wine Country. All of the  atmospherics but virtually no risk, allowing you to see if you have the wine life in your blood. You can be processing grapes through all the wine-making steps to produce bottle-ready wine… And, of course, you can also get your feet wet (pun intended) by dishing out a few bucks for a guided tour of the vineyards…here or abroad…a tour de force…for the fan of le vin…so many ways to go, to see if you have the Ripe Stuff…for an industry made in Heaven.