Rising PROfile: Olivia Blends Business with Winemaking

Although many rising professionals use their business skills in the board room, Olivia Teutschel blends her business sense with winemaking skills in the barrel room. Olivia Teutschel

Olivia is a winemaker at Bargetto Winery in Soquel, CA, who has moved quickly up the ranks since she started working there in May 2010. In her role, she oversees various crews, coordinates bottling schedules, works on labels, blending wines, maintains quality standards, manages compliance and provides sales and marketing enablement.

She also concurrently worked at Soquel Vineyards for four years as the director of marketing and tasting room manager until leaving in December 2013, and still has a close relationship with the owners and wine club members. While there, she produced a 2011 Chardonnay from the Edna Valley region of California called O’s Chardonnay, which won her a gold medal in 2013 at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.

But while pouring, crafting and promoting wine for a living may seem like a dream job, Olivia says many people have misconceptions about working in the wine industry and what it entails.

“People think that it’s glamorous and that we drink wine all day. I can tell you, it is neither of these things. People also think they can make a fortune if they own a winery, but the inverse is closer to the truth.”

In fact, working at a winery is a ton of work and calls for experience in a variety of fields including business, science, farming, weather, engineering, logistics, compliance and art.

With a B.S. in Wine and Viticulture, double concentration in Enology and Wine Business, and a minor in Agribusiness from California Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo, Olivia brings a great blend of knowledge to her career in wine. In fact, there are many business skills she uses on a daily basis that can translate to various other industries. These include managing multiple teams, project management and coordinating logistics and quality control for multiple brands and clients.

Since the wine industry teaches and requires skills needed in many industries, Olivia says recent graduates should consider working in a winery.

“California wine is growing and wineries are multiplying. There is a need for educated young professionals and thanks to schools like Cal Poly we have plenty of new young professionals entering the workforce every year. There are opportunities out there, but like most industries, landing a job depends on who you know and where you’ve worked.”

When trying to break into the wine industry, Olivia says networking is key.

“The world is small and the wine world is even smaller. It’s important to make connections early in your career because you never how your paths may cross in the future. Join associations, go to conferences, tastings, events and get your face out there. The best winemakers are talking to their peers and constantly sharing with one another.”

In fact, part of Olivia’s success and inspiration comes from collaborating with her former classmates and fellow winemakers, Tymari LoRe and Jill DelaRiva. Whether it’s swapping cellar stories, asking questions or just bouncing ideas around, Olivia says they are both always there for her when she needs them, which has helped her advance throughout her career. Another mentor is her grandmother, Lois Teutschel, who was always supportive and nurturing when it came to Olivia’s choice in career.

“She never drank wine and freely admitted to not liking the stuff, but she never questioned why her granddaughter decided at a young age to become a winemaker. She even went to the movie theater to see Sideways when it came out.”

As she continues to rise in her career, Olivia shared that she hopes to stay involved in her local wine community and may even start her own label someday. Even though she’s in the business of making wine, she also carves out time to enjoy it too. Although Cabernet Sauvignon is her favorite wine to make, she loves drinking sparkling wine and hopes to even try her hand at crafting it someday.

“It goes with the general mood of my life; there’s always something to toast and be happy about. It seems I’m never short of a reason to grab a bottle of bubbles these days.”

Connect with Olivia on LinkedIn and stop by Bargetto Winery next time you’re in Santa Cruz County to say hello and sip on some of her fabulous wines.

This post was originally featured on Rising Pro. 

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