How to become a Viticulturist

Viticulturists plan, supervise and coordinate the growing of selected grape varieties for the production of wine, dried fruit or table grapes.

Personal requirements of a Viticulturist

  • Interested in horticulture or agriculture
  • Good analytical and problem-solving skills
  • Able to make accurate observations
  • Good communication and interpersonal skills
  • Good organisational skills
  • Flexibility and adaptability
  • Enjoy outdoor work
  • Willingness to live and work in regional areas
  • Able to manage plant allergies and hay fever

Education & Training for a Viticulturist

To become a viticulturist you usually have to study viticulture and oenology at university. Alternatively, you can become a viticulturist by completing a degree in science, applied science or agricultural science at university. To get into these courses you usually need to gain your Senior Secondary Certificate of Education. Prerequisite subjects, or assumed knowledge, in one or more of English, mathematics and chemistry are normally required. A number of universities in Australia offer degrees in these areas. Universities have different prerequisites and some have flexible entry requirements or offer external study. Contact the institutions you are interested in for more information. For full details, refer to the entries on the website at www.goodcareersguide.com.au or university handbooks.

Duties & Tasks of a Viticulturist

Viticulturists may perform the following tasks:

  • manage the operations of the vineyard, including soil management, irrigation, and disease and weed control
  • direct and oversee general growing activities such as harvesting and pruning
  • liaise with grape buyers and winemakers
  • monitor grape maturity to ensure their quality and calculate the correct time for harvest
  • recruit, supervise, manage and train winery workers involved in the production and harvesting of grapes
  • give guided tours, conduct tastings and advise visitors about various aspects of wine and grapes
  • keep records of techniques used and harvest outcomes for each season.

Working conditions for a Viticulturist

Viticulturists spend a lot of time outdoors in vineyards, but also work indoors in laboratories, offices and grape processing facilities. Knowledge of science and business management is increasingly important in viticulture.

Employment Opportunities for a Viticulturist

The majority of positions for viticulturists are in NSW, SA, Victoria and WA. Smaller wine industries are present in Queensland and Tasmania. Vineyards vary in size from small operations (sometimes family-owned) to large companies employing many people. You can gain experience by obtaining temporary or seasonal positions in a variety of grape-growing regions and countries. Viticulturists with considerable experience can work as consultants to different wineries.

Additional Information
The Australian Society of Viticulture and Oenology provides technical information to members who work in the grape and wine industry.
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