Thomas finds "spark" in winemaking career

Victorian cellar hand pours passion into achieving dream of becoming a winemaker

CAREER: Winemaker Thomas Houghton, Heidelberg, Victoria, says he found a spark when exploring winemaking as a career.

CAREER: Winemaker Thomas Houghton, Heidelberg, Victoria, says he found a spark when exploring winemaking as a career.


A love of winemaking has determined Thomas Houghton's path.


FLAVOUR and fermentation, not foodservice or fabrication, have drawn a young Victorian winemaker to his chosen career.

After trying his hand in other industries, Heidelberg local Thomas Houghton (30) settled on where his heart lay.

"Previously, I worked in hospitality and construction, but never really saw these industries as being the right fit for me long-term. I was looking for that spark and I found it in winemaking," Mr Houghton said.

Having grown up in Western Australia, his love for wine came from his exposure to the premium wine region of Margaret River.

"Learning about the intricacies of winemaking and how small variations in the process could so greatly affect the final product really blew my mind," Mr Houghton said.

"Once I started learning more about wine, it clicked for me that this was something I was really passionate about."


Currently in his final semester, he moved to Melbourne in 2019 specifically to complete his Bachelor of Agriculture and Technology Viticulture and Winemaking at Melbourne Polytechnic.

"What drew me to Melbourne Polytechnic is its emphasis on practical skills as well as theoretical knowledge," he said.

"I felt that my qualifications needed that vital hands-on element to ensure when I was entering the workforce I could use my skill set in an effective way."

Following the impacts of COVID-19, several industries have come into the spotlight as priority sectors experiencing a shortfall of skilled workers.

Melbourne Polytechnic has identified four in-demand industries that are offering increased job growth and career opportunities across Victoria.

These include:

  • education (early years);
  • construction trade;
  • health and human services;
  • food and fibre.

To help support the rapid growth of Victoria's in-demand industries, Melbourne Polytechnic hosted an Online Careers Forum in October.

The OCF was a series of online events sharing industry insights to help prospective students plant the seed for their future career in a rapidly growing industry.

"I got to learn from industry experts that have been engaged in Victoria's winemaking industry for a long time. By tapping into this wealth of knowledge, I've been able to gain expert advice on where I can take my career and what sort of jobs I should be applying for," Mr Houghton said.

"As a result of my close relationships with my teachers, I've been fortunate to secure numerous opportunities to get on-the-job experience.

"I've worked as a cellar hand during vintage seasons in Tasmania, Western Australia, and Victoria."

Attendees of the OCF heard first-hand from a variety of voices including industry experts, educators, current students, recent graduates, and careers counsellors.

The aim was to help prospective students build connections with industry professionals and experts, while gaining access to the resources required to take the next step of enrolling in a course.

Industries such as education, construction, health and human services and agriculture are growing at a rapid pace. - Dr Nicola Cooley, director of higher education, Melbourne Polytechnic

"Having gone through the experience of studying during COVID-19, the relationships I've built with my fellow students and teachers has been invaluable," Mr Houghton said.

"The course has really set me up for success and to pursue my ultimate goal of becoming a winemaker."

Melbourne Polytechnic director of higher education Dr Nicola Cooley said completing a higher education course and knowing what to do next can be daunting.

"Our strong connections with industry allow us to nurture and support our graduates in the transition from their studies to the workplace," Dr Cooley said.

"The impacts of COVID-19 have been debilitating for many industries. Melbourne Polytechnic will play a crucial role in filling the gaps in priority industries by ensuring students are fully equipped with the knowledge to secure employment when they graduate.

"Industries such as education, construction, health and human services and agriculture are growing at a rapid pace.

"Our response has to be agile to ensure our curriculums are up to scratch with the realities and demands of the industry. "

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The story Thomas finds "spark" in winemaking career first appeared on Good Fruit & Vegetables.


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