Heather Battersby: The woman behind winejobsonline.com

Occupation:
Founder/co-owner of winejobsonline.com; HR consultant, and freelance PA.

When and why did you start winejobsonline.com? Do you have a recruitment or wine background?
2004, because I realised with the huge vineyard plantings that were being undertaken at the time there was going to be a need for more vineyard workers, and I wondered where they were going to come from and how workers could find out what was on offer. I was also conscious that as wine people (I was Jim Delegat’s PA at the time,) we had nowhere to look to find out what was available in our industry. A year’s research later, my husband/business partner Paddy and I launched winejobsonline.com 10 ½ years ago.

The wine industry has been my life and my livelihood for nearly 40 years and we have had our HR consultancy company since 1999.

First Job:
Junior Shorthand Typist Clerk, NZI Trust Department, Tauranga.

Which skills are NZ wineries currently looking for?
Everyone wants good hardworking employees with the skill set required by the individual job, and a strong work ethic.

Currently there are a number of winemaking and vineyard jobs available via winejobsonline which is typical for this time of year after vintage. Many employers want one person to do parts of more than one job – often the job descriptions are not traditional these days and employers can be quite demanding in what combinations of skills they think employees should have.

What’s so special about New Zealand wine?
Well, everyone knows about our clean, green image, quality viticultural and winemaking practices and international recognition on the show circuit.

But much of the world’s awareness and New Zealand wine’s success is due to the sterling efforts of NZ Winegrowers with the work they have done in recent years, and the forerunners New Zealand Wine Guild’s pioneers in the 80’s/90’s. A core group of New Zealand wine devotees were persistent in their efforts and did the hard yards which helped establish the NZ wine industry’s international reputation.

What’s your favourite New Zealand wine?
Tough call picking just one but I love anything that is well-balanced, a great example of the regional style, and has no rough edges. Vine maturity has helped me appreciate pinots.

2 particularly I’ve enjoyed lately were Millton Opou Chardonnay and Bell Hill Pinot. Wow. Short answer – probably has to be chardonnay.

If you were a wine, what wine would you be?
Perhaps a Riesling – adaptable, flies a bit under the radar, (perhaps a bit under-appreciated at times), known mostly for sweetness, bit of complexity, hopefully aging well – tho I am probably a bit more full-bodied than the usual Riesling!

Wine & dine, what’s your favourite match?
Seafood (snapper and scallops in a beurre blanc) and chardonnay. Richness and buttery-ness in both, hard to beat.

Or, fish and chips with any wine if in the right place with the right people.

Share a fact about you that only a few know:
I have been privileged to learn from some great wine men in my career having proudly worked for Max Schubert of Penfolds Grange fame, Frank Yukich of Penfolds New Zealand, and Jim Delegat of Delegat’s Wine Group – I was Jim’s PA for 12 years and he has one of the greatest minds in the New Zealand wine industry in my opinion. Am grateful to have had them as mentors.

Hidden gems and favourite spots in your region?
West Auckland beaches – Piha, Bethells. Like nothing else and when we have international wine guests, we always take them to Piha – ideally to watch the spectacular sunset with a glass of wine. Magic, and so close to home.

Things you still want to do:
See the New Zealand wine industry consolidate and co-operate a bit more; to have everyone in the industry work safely every day – we have a passion for health and safety via our safetyWIRE health and safety management system, and most employers have still a very long way to go to be meeting their obligations – I’d like to think I can still help change that and help them do better.

And, on a personal level – there is some charity work helping Hospice, and there are still a few places in New Zealand I have not yet been to.

Last book read: 
“Serious Fun” – Alan Gibb’s biography, what an amazing man, he has done so much in his life. Fearless. And a bit mad. Has his own giraffe. Read it concurrently with the 5:2 diet book.

Advice on buying wine:
Take advice from an instore retail expert; go to as many tastings as you can so you can try something different and get a feel for what you like, then find what you like at the best price.

There are so many New Zealand wines produced that you can try a completely different wine every nite for the next 20 years – you don’t have to drink anything you don’t care for. Our show system highlights the best.

Dead or alive, who would you like to share a glass of vino with?
Max Schubert of Penfolds Grange Hermitage fame – I was his secretary for a time in Australia in the 70’s – he taught me so much about so many things and was so down to earth about his wines, sharing them and having everyone enjoy them – including giving me bottles of ’53, ’54 and ’55 Grange – which I drank….. It wasn’t a cult wine in those days.

Thanks a lot for your time Heather!

Make sure you follow her and winejobsonline.com on Facebook | Twitter.

Cheers,
Caro

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