Viticulture

Course CodeBHT220
Fee CodeS2
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment
  

Learn to grow grapes

A course for vineyard workers, vineyard managers and wine growers; hobby farmer growers, enthusiastic amateur wine makers, or anyone working or aspiring to work in this industry. 
  • Self paced 100 hour course
  • Written and supported by an international team of horticultural professionals
Course tutors are skilled professionals who are fully qualified in the various subject areas. In addition, they combine their qualifications with many years of actual practical experience.
  • Tutor profiles are disclosed (This often doesn't happen elsewhere)
  • Access to tutors is not restricted (again not always the case elsewhere)
  • Tutors are instructed to above all help you learn (all too often teachers elsewhere are more focussed on assessing you than teaching you)

 

ACS Graduate comment: "[The course] gave me extra knowledge of the industry that I am currently working in. It covered all aspects of the industry. I liked the way you had to work through each lesson/category I received excellent feedback from my tutor. I enjoyed the viticulture course, it has given me extra knowledge that i will use." James McKelvey, Vineyard Manager, Australia, Viticulture course.

Lesson Structure

There are 10 lessons in this course:

  1. Introduction
    • Nature and scope of the viticulture industry both locally and world wide
    • Global viticulture
    • Major winegrowing areas around the world
    • The grape; genera and species
    • Rootstocks
    • Classification of grape varieties
    • Table grapes
    • Wine grapes
    • Dried fruit
    • Juice grapes
    • Canned grapes
  2. Climate and Soils
    • Suitable climate and soil conditions for vineyard site establishment
    • Temperature; temperature calculations; latitude-temperature index and degree days
    • Sunlight
    • Rainfall
    • Soil; soil types and wine regions; understanding soils; texture; characteristics; soil structure; chemical characteristics of soils including pH and nutrient levels
    • Understanding plant nutrition
    • Soil water content
    • Simple soil tests; naming the soil
    • Problems with soil; erosion; salinity; structural decline; soil acidification; chemical residues
  3. Selecting Grape Varieties
    • Appropriate grape varieties for different situations.
    • Grape types
    • Selection considerations
    • Matching the variety with the site
    • Varietal characteristics
    • Selecting wine grapes
    • Yeild
    • Reviewing important varieties; chenin blanc; chardonnay; semillion; muscat ottonel; muscadelle; gewurztraminer; cabernet sauvignon; carignan
    • Vitis rotundifolia
    • Wine grapes; raisin grapes; juice grapes
    • Importance of rootstocks
    • Purchasing plants
    • Phylloxera
  4. Vineyard Establishment
    • Procedure to establish a vineyard
    • Vineyard planning
    • Site planning
    • Vineyard layout
    • Site preparation
    • Planting the vines
    • Vine spacing
    • Shelter belts
    • Crop infrastructure
    • Equipment
  5. Grapevine Culture Part A (Training & Pruning)
    • Techniques used in the culture of grape vines
    • Pruning and training vines
    • Shoot spacing
    • Bud numbers
    • Vine spacing
    • How much to prune
    • Machine pruning
    • Summer pruning
    • Combination pruning
    • Pruning sultana vines
    • Trellising
    • Trellis construction
    • Guyot system
    • Geneva double curtain system
    • Head training
    • Cordoning
    • Kniffen systems
    • Umbrella kniffen system
    • Pergola training system
  6. Grapevine Culture Part B (Weeds, Pests & Diseases)
    • Types of weeds
    • Controlling weeds
    • Safety proceedures when using agricultural chemicals
    • Laws and guidelines
    • Types of chemicals
    • Weed management before planting
    • Weed management in new vineyards
    • Weed management in established vineyards
    • Integrated pest management
    • Pest control in vineyards
    • Grape berry moth
    • Grape mealy bug
    • Grape leaffolder
    • Grapevine rust mite
    • Grape blossom midge
    • Flea beetles
    • Birds and arge animals
    • Disease control in vineyards
    • Fungal diseases; rots; mildew; eutypa dieback etc
    • Bacterial diseases
    • Viruses
    • Organic culture of grapes; organic pest and disease control
    • Companion plants
    • Managing environmental problems including air, water, damage, frost, hail, wind and shade
    • Water mangement; runoff; water saving
    • Grape clones and varieties
  7. Grapevine Culture Part C (Irrigation & Feeding)
    • Irrigating and feeding grapes
    • Excessive irrigation
    • Seasonal effects of irrigation
    • Drip irrigation
    • Monitoring and timing
    • Feasibility of irrigation
    • Design considerations
    • Soil and water
    • Measuring water available to plants
    • Calculating permanent wilting point
    • Calculating field capacity of a vineyard
    • Available moisture range
    • Measuring air filled porosity
    • Tensiometer
    • Estimating water
    • Rate of growth
    • Climate
    • Drainage in vineyards; improving subsoil and surface drainage; subsurface drainage
    • Soil fertility; choice of fertilizer; timing of application; fertigation
  8. Improving Grape Quality
    • Ways to ensure or improve grape quality.
    • Plant stock
    • Crop management
    • Post harvest impact on quality
    • Improving flower and fruit set
    • Second set
    • Girdling
    • Berry thinning
  9. Harvesting & Selling
    • Procedure for harvest and post-harvest treatment
    • Harvesting
    • Testing for ripeness
    • Influence of weather
    • Harvesting techniques
    • Selling grapes
    • Vineyard resume
    • Selling grapes
    • Marketing contracts
    • Selling online
    • Developing a marketing plan
    • Advertising
    • Market research
    • Legal considerations with marketing
  10. Wine
    • Basic principles of wine making
    • Overview of winemaking process
    • Production principles
    • Fermentation
    • Making white wine
    • Making red wine
    • Methods

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.

Aims

  • Choose an appropriate site for a vineyard
  • Simple Soil tests
  • Measure pH
  • Determine water content of soil
  • Choose appropriate grape varieties for different situations
  • Develop criteria to be considered when selecting which grape varieties to grow
  • Devise a procedure to establish a vineyard
  • Specify the techniques used in the culture of grape vines
  • Specify a procedure for harvest and post-harvest treatment of grapes
  • Formulate marketing strategies for vineyard products
  • Explain the basic principles of wine making


Where can Grapes be Grown?

 
Suitable regions for good quality grape production are determined more by climatic similarities than geographic location. Regions that have mean annual temperatures between 10 and 20 degrees Celsius are the most conducive for quality wine production. World distribution of viticulture is bounded by the 50° line of latitude, both north and south of the equator. However, even within these general parameters, grape vines are not suited to places where leaves do not fall from the vines over winter (due to warmth) or where winters are severe and summers are short.
Assessing regional suitability to grape production is not absolute. Variations in local climate caused by topographical characteristics can greatly affect the feasibility of production. For example, elevated areas in warm climate regions may yield the cooler temperatures required to produce good quality wine making grapes.
Several parameters are commonly used for assessing growing conditions. Degree Days and Latitude-Temperature Index (LTI) are two such measures. A region with a higher latitude may have cooler mid-summer temperatures but may not be inhibited from good production when offset by a long growing season. The Bordeaux region of France and areas of Washington state in the USA may fall into this category

 
What to Use Grapes for?
Grapes can be classified based according to their use:

Table grapes

These are grapes which are sold and used fresh. These varieties must look and taste good, and resist bruising or other damage when handled.

Preferred qualities are:

  •  large berries                                              
  • even-sized berries
  • strong skin                                     
  • strong stems
  • good shelf life                                
  • seedless (in some markets)
  • bunches which are neither sparse nor dense

Some varieties used as table grapes include Cardinal, Black Muscat, White Muscat, Waltham Cross, Purple Cornichon, Flame Seedless and Marroo Seedless. 

Wine grapes

These grapes are crushed and fermented to produce wine. Red or rosé wines are produced by fermenting after crushing while the grape skins are still present. For white wines, the skins are removed before fermentation. Some varieties have skins which add more colour to the wine, others less.

Grapes with high acid content and low sugar will produce dry wines. Grapes with high sugar and lower acid produce sweeter wines. The amount of acid and sugar in a grape depends upon the variety of grape, plant culture, and the stage at which it is picked.

Mechanically harvested wine grapes should have berries which detach easily from the stems and have thick skins which don't damage readily. Thin-skinned grapes must be harvested more carefully.

  • Varieties commonly used for high quality red wine include Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Merlot, Shiraz and Pinot Noir.
  • Pinot Noir is often used for rosé.
  • Varieties often used for quality white wine include Chardonnay, Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Gewurztraminer.

Dried fruit

Virtually any grapes can be dried, but the varieties used commercially are generally seedless types which ripen fast and at a dry time of year. They must not get moist and split near to harvest. The texture should be soft, and the fruit shouldn't stick together too much in storage. Sultanas (a white seedless variety) are particularly valuable, producing large dried fruits. Raisins may be produced from a range of different varieties, often smaller fruits, including Thomson Seedless, Muscat of Alexandria and Black Corinth.

Juice grapes

Unfermented grape juice has gained increased popularity in recent times. Processes (eg. pasteurisation) used to preserve the juice can have a detrimental effect on the flavour with some varieties of grape, while others are not dramatically altered. Several varieties may be blended to produce juice.

Canned grapes

Seedless grapes are sometimes canned, either alone or with other fruit as fruit salad. Thompson Seedless is commonly used for this purpose in the USA.

 
AFTER YOU GRADUATE
Some graduates will establish or buy a vineyard, small or large. Others may find employment in the viticulture industry, and yet others may continue their studies, formally or informally, to learn more about horticultural crop production.
The options for graduates from this course are diverse; and in today's world, changing as fast as it is, unforeseen opportunities are likely to emerge between now and when you complete your studies.

Our expert horticulturists stand ready to support you, discussing possibilities after you finish your course. We are here no help; not only while you are studying, but afterwards, as well.



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Credentials

ACS is an Organisational Member of the British Institute for Learning and Development
ACS is an Organisational Member of the British Institute for Learning and Development

Member of the Institute of Horticulture Careers Advisory Bureau
Member of the Institute of Horticulture Careers Advisory Bureau

Member of Study Gold Coast, Education Network
Member of Study Gold Coast, Education Network

An ACS Global Partner College
An ACS Global Partner College

Member Nursery and Garden Industry Association
Member Nursery and Garden Industry Association

ACS is recognised as an institution by IARC
ACS is recognised as an institution by IARC



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  Rosemary Davies

Leading horticultural expert in Australia. Rosemary trained in Horticultural Applied Science at Melbourne University. Initially she worked with Agriculture Victoria as an extension officer, taught horticulture students, worked on radio with ABC radio (clocking up over 24 years as a presenter of garden talkback programs, initially the only woman presenter on gardening in Victoria) and she simultaneously developed a career as a writer. She then studied Education and Training, teaching TAFE apprentices and developing curriculum for TAFE, before taking up an offer as a full time columnist with the Herald and Weekly Times and its magazine department after a number of years as columnist with the Age. She has worked for a number of companies in writing and publications, PR community education and management and has led several tours to Europe. In 1999 Rosemary was BPW Bendigo Business Woman of the Year and is one of the founders and the Patron, of the Friends of the Bendigo Botanic gardens. She has completed her 6th book this year and is working on concepts for several others. Rosemary has a B Ed, BSc Hort, Dip Advertising & Marketing
  John Mason

Parks Manager, Nurseryman, Landscape Designer, Garden Writer and Consultant. Over 40 years experience; working in Victoria, Queensland and the UK. He is one of the most widely published garden writers in the world; author of more than 70 books and editor for 4 different gardening magazines. John has been recognised by his peers being made a fellow of the Institute of Horticulture in the UK, as well as by the Australian Institute of Horticulture.
  Adriana Fraser

Over 30 years working in horticulture, as a gardener, propagator, landscape designer , teacher and consultant. Adriana has spent much of her life living on large properties, developing and maintaining her own gardens, and living a semi self sufficient lifestyle. She has decades of practical experience growing her own fruit, vegetables and herbs, and making her own preserves. She is well connected with horticulture professionals across Australia, and amongst other things, for a period, looked after Australia's national collection of Thymus. Advanced Diploma in Horticulture, Advanced Certificate in Horticulture.
  Dr. Lynette Morgan

Broad expertise in horticulture and crop production. She travels widely as a partner in Suntec Horticultural Consultants, and has clients in central America, the USA, Caribbean, South East Asia, the Middle East, Australia and New Zealand.
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