How to design an effective training program

Your staff will all have different training requirements at different stages in their career, however good training should be ongoing, varied and include the staff in the design.

Begin with the Vintuition course as the foundation of all training: All staff should complete the course. If any of your stuff need basic wine appreciation training check out this guide for our recommendations.

The training program should consist of a monthly schedule 30 – 45 min at the least. It’s critical that staff are paid for this time, and that each session is booked with advance notice. We recommend booking the whole year at a time. Book each session and stick with it. Don’t reschedule, offer catch up sessions or be complacent about attendance. Training must become an integrated, non-negotiable part of being an employee and a known expectation of employment.

For every second session, put your staff in charge of the training. Get them to design what they want to learn about and source the trainer from either the winemaking/leadership team or someone from outside the business. This builds team spirit, encourages self-assessment, promotes attendance and gives a sense of ownership over progress. It makes a tremendous difference to the tone and has shown anecdotally to yield excellent results.

Create an agenda for each session, aim to taste six wines in three pairs. Prioritise any new release wines but beyond that you’re aiming to create insight, context and build knowledge. Try the following:

  • Compare your best selling or icon wines to other producers in the region
  • Compare your wines to old world or other international equivalents
  • Offer mini-verticals – if some of your wines are designed for cellaring, open older examples to show what happens as the ageing process progresses
  • If some of your wines are sold on point scores or medals, create brackets to show what this means in real terms. For example, compare your gold medal winning shiraz to a bronze winner, or your bargain 89 point cabernet to a 95 point wine
  • Explore similar wines at different price points to give real insight into premium versus commercial tiers
  • Explore regional diversity. If your business is famous in your region for a particular wine, how do other regions compare?
  • Explore benchmark producers and wines in general, giving a sense of what quality means in industry terms
  • Explore supermarket wines in general, giving a sense of what large scale, commercial wines offer and represent in terms of style, flavour and price
  • Use samples from the winery wherever possible – this gives insight into the process and highlights the skills and decisions required throughout the process

In general, wine training should be about showing, rather than telling. Expanding the tastings beyond your own list gives genuine insights, builds knowledge and instils a confidence in your staff that will naturally translate into sales. Additionally, it builds team morale, a culture of constant improvement and provides a forum for your staff to share their wins and challenges.

If you still need convincing, consider this: regular training is correlated with high performance so if your seeking competitive advantage, this is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to improve your business.

Create a schedule today, what have you got to lose?