Program helps San Diegans get jobs with wineries

Posted at 5:59 AM, Nov 16, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-16 10:44:59-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - San Diego winemakers say business is picking up, and there's a new way to for locals to get their foot in the door. 

A new report by the San Diego County Vintners Association says there are now 116 wineries in the region, with sales nearly doubling in the last year. The industry now has about 700 workers in the county. 

Now, the association has teamed up with Cuyamaca College for a Viticulture Technician Apprenticeship program. Participants work 1,500 hours a year, learning the ins and outs of winemaking. They earn $11 an hour the first year and $13 the second, with opportunities to make more doing side jobs once they get enough experience. 

"You can't really sell wine unless you know where it's coming from and what goes into it, creating the story behind the wine itself," said Kaylan Wedemeyer, who is an apprentice for La Mesa's San Pasqual Winery.

Linda McWilliams, who owns San Pasqual, said many local wineries are mom and pops, but that apprentices can also grow with them.

"I think we'll find places for the people who graduate, and then we'll build together," she said. 

The program is accepting applications ahead of interviews in December, and January starts.