Certificate in Viticulture
-with some general horticulture too!
COURSE CONTENT AND STRUCTURE
This course develops a broad based understanding of horticulture in the first half of your studies, as a foundation for a career in any area of horticulture; and then (in the second half ) focus is on viticulture, giving you valuable information and skills for working on a vineyard.
Core Studies (1st half)
Students must complete and pass all of these core units.
1. Introduction to plants Minimum 40 hours The purpose of this study area is to explain the binomial system of plant classification and demonstrate identification of plant species through the ability of using botanical descriptions for leaf shapes and flowers.
2. Plant culture Minimum 60 hours The purpose of this study area is to demonstrate the ability to care for plants so as to maintain optimum growth and health while considering pruning, planting, and irrigation.
3. Soils and plant nutrition Minimum 50 hours The purpose of this study area is to provide students with the skills and knowledge to identify, work with, and improve the soil condition and potting mixes, and to evaluate fertilisers for use in landscape jobs to maximize plant growth.
4. Introductory propagation Minimum 40 hours The purpose of this study area is to improve the student's understanding of propagation techniques with particular emphasis on cuttings and seeds. Other industry techniques such as grafting and budding are also explained.
5. Identification and use of plants Minimum 60 hours The purpose of this study area is to improve the student's range of plant knowledge and the plant use in landscaping and the ornamental garden, and the appreciation of the different optimum and preferred growing conditions for different plants.
6. Pests, diseases, and weeds Minimum 50 hours The purpose of this study area is develop the student’s ability to identify, describe and control a variety of pests, diseases and weeds in an ornamental situation, and to describe safety procedures when using agricultural chemicals.
Stream Studies (2nd half)
The Viticulture stream is divided into the following:
UNIT 1. THE GRAPE
1. Introduction To Viticulture
2. Introduction To Grapevines
3. Propagation of Grapevines
4. Improving Grape Quality
UNIT 2. VINEYARD ESTABLISHMENT & MANAGEMENT
5. Climate & Other Factors In Siting Vineyards
6. Grape Varieties & Selection
7. Establishing A Vineyard
8. Harvest & Post-Harvest Handling
9. Managing A Vineyard
UNIT 3. MATERIALS & EQUIPMENT
10. Machinery And Equipment
12. Plant Nutrition
13. Agricultural Chemicals
UNIT 4. FARM MANAGEMENT
15. Increasing Efficiency
You must successfully complete all assignments and pass exams
Four exams must be sat and passed over this course. Fees for these exams are additional to the course fees.
Anything not successfully completed may be repeated or resubmitted.
LEARN ABOUT THE GRAPEVINE
These hardy deciduous climbers have a root system that is able to penetrate deep into the subsoil. The majority of roots will be in the top 1 or 2 m but some roots may go down 3 or 4 m. Most nutrients and water will be taken up by the roots in the topsoil but the deeper roots enable the vine to survive in arid areas and during long spells of dry weather. The roots must be able to penetrate the subsoil easily; practical measures such as ripping or deep ploughing may be undertaken to encourage root penetration in soils which have formed a hard pan below the topsoil.
The growth of the plant is governed by factors such as temperature, sunshine, water, nutrients and complex physiological factors within the plant which include growth regulators or hormones. These hormones likely control such phases as dormancy with high levels of inhibitory hormones restricting bud and seed growth even in high temperatures. This prevents buds bursting in autumn or warm winter spells where they may be affected by subsequent cold spells. As spring approaches the level of these inhibitory hormones decrease in concentration and growth promoting hormones increase causing buds to commence growing.
After dormancy has been broken and temperatures rise, the spring shoots emerge. These shoots are susceptible to frosts and frost‑protection or frost free sites thus need to be considered. Shoots may need to be reduced during the growing season to encourage fruit set and ripening of the berries.
Buds are formed in the axil of the leaves as the shoot develops. The bud divides into two buds, one bud remains dormant until the next spring, while the other bud develops a lateral shoot. There are two or three growing points within the one bud, generally, only the primary or central bud grows and this is generally the most fruitful. Sometimes these secondary growing points may shoot.
Because the buds are formed during the previous season any improvement in the initial formation of the flower buds must take into account the previous seasons growth. Flower initiation is also related to a balance between leaf area and light penetration and temperature. Any trimming or pruning of mature leaf growth is likely to be detrimental to flower initiation, however, it is also important to allow sufficient light penetration into the leaf canopy. The aim of the grower, therefore, should be to control the canopy cover of the vine to provide sufficient light penetration whilst maintaining adequate leaf cover to provide nutrients, etc. For optimum flower initiation temperatures should ideally be around 30 degrees C. "
WORKING ON A VINEYARD
Growers of grapes usually set up their vineyards with one of three main aims in mind. Either it is to grow grapes for the table or fresh fruit market, to grow grapes for drying, or to grow grapes for the wine industry. Of these three streams, there is also the possibility of growing a completely organic, or biodynamic crop or growing your crop with whatever chemicals are necessary for successful production. Usually, the organic crops achieve higher prices, particularly for the fresh and dried product, but this may vary within regions and countries.
Working in vineyards involves large amounts of outdoor work in all sorts of weather, all year round, to maintain and care for the crop and ensure a livelihood. If the vineyard is to produce its own wine then there will be large amounts of indoor work, often in a laboratory testing and blending ingredients, to make a quality wine to market.
Owner-operators of smaller farms have to be an expert across a number of fields.
Vineyards may be just one diversification for a hobby grower. Hobby growers, as well as some of the larger wine growers, often have their own cellar door and tasting rooms, operate as a tourism venture with regular visitors, tours, and in some cases also operate a restaurant, with or without wedding/ conference facilities.
What they do
There is a wide range of duties involved in growing, producing and marketing crops from a vineyard. Choosing the right site and soil is vital. Also choosing varieties for your purpose(wine varieties are often different to table varieties), understanding soils, chemicals, pests and diseases, different methods for training vines, pruning and harvesting techniques, machinery used for all these are all as important as knowing about the maintenance of the vines.
Crops usually need protection from birds and predators with scare guns, netting systems, and suitable fencing. Grapes usually need some supplementary watering and it must be well timed for the best results depending on whether it is a fresh fruit crop or wine crop. Methods and timing for watering crops and a knowledge of maintaining irrigation equipment is also a must. Managers and workers have to know how to judge scientifically exactly the right harvesting time and methods to use, as this can make all the difference to the final product.
A knowledge of storage techniques, drying techniques (for dried crops) is part of the job in some vineyards, and if you are to make your own wine a good basic knowledge of chemistry is very handy, to balance all the chemicals in a wine barrel. An option to this is to have an arrangement with a larger winery and send the grapes out to be bottled by another larger winery under your own brand label, or just sell them as a product for them to blend with their own varieties.
Marketing, advertising packaging (to choose suitable labels and logos) are all important aspects of a vineyard and a knowledge of business management will also give background information for selecting markets and distribution.
To create a tourism venture a knowledge of the local tourism industry, travel, tour guiding, food and beverage handling, hospitality customer service, formulating business plans, are all useful skills.
There is a regular need for seasonal workers in vineyards, especially the smaller ones where vines and crops will be picked by hand. In larger vineyards, this is usually undertaken mechanically. There would be opportunities for mechanical minded and experienced people in larger wineries. When there are cellar doors and restaurants regular hospitality, bar service and customer service jobs will be available. University courses are available on Oenology or the study of winemaking- (which does not include the growing and harvesting)
What is needed?
In most cases, you need a love of the outdoors and enjoy working outside for most of your day all weathers. A background in farming, living or working on farms or Agricultural Science or crop growing will be useful for this field. Mechanical knowledge, knowledge of horticulture and pruning, planting, training and harvesting along with identification and control of pests and diseases is a good grounding. If you aim to run a vineyard and manage others, then work in human resources and business management, owning and operating a small business would be useful. If you are passionate and knowledgeable about wines and wine varieties as a consumer, then this will also be beneficial. A background in marketing and advertising would also be advisable to ensure the right product image, selling and marketing techniques.