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

Learn how to Grow Grapes and Work in the Viticulture Industry

  • 100 hour, self paced correspondence course
  • For the enthusiast or commercial grower
  • Grow grapes, make wine, start a vineyard, find a job in this industry

Find out know how to choose the right place, the right varieties, the right growing techniques, the right harvesting techniques and the right marketing techniques: learn to produce better grapes, on a small or large scale.

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
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 wine growing 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 & Soils:
    • 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; what to plant; matching the variety with the site; varietal characteristics; selecting wine grapes; yeild; varieties; chenin blanc; chardonnay; semillion; muscat ottonel; muscadelle; gewurztraminer; cabernet sauvignon; carignan; vitis rotundifolia; wine grapes; raisin grapes; juice grapes, the importance of rootstocks; purchasing plants; phylloxera.
  4. Vineyard Establishment
    • procedure to establish a vineyard.
    • establishing a new vineyard, vineyard planning; site planning; vineyard layout; site preparation; planting the vines, vine spacing; shelter belts; crop infrastructure; equipment.
  5. Grapevine Culture A (Training & Pruning)
    • techniques used in the culture of grape vines (Training & Pruning Grapevines).
    • pruning and training vines, shoot spacing; bud numbers; vine spacing; how much to prune; machine pruning; summer pruning; combination pruning; pruning sultana vines; trellising; 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)
    • techniques used in the culture of grape vines (Weed, Pest & Disease Control).
    • weeds, pest and disease control, weeds in vineyeards; controlling weeds; safety proceedures when using agricultural chemicals; laws and guidelines; types of chemicals; weed management in vineyards; 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; large animals; disease control in vineyards; fungal diseases; rots; mildew; eutypa dieback; bacterial diseases; viruses; organic culture of grapes; organic pest and disease control; companion plants; 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)
    • techniques used in the culture of grape vines (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; soil conditions; drainage in vineyards; improving subsoil and surface drainage; subsurface drainage; soil fertility; choice of fertilizer; timing of application; fertigation.
  8. Improving Grape Quality
    • different 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 and formulate market strategy for vineyard products.
    • harvesting; testing for ripeness; influence of weather; harvesting techniques; selling grapes; vineyard resume; selling grapes; contracts; selling online; marketing; developing a marketing plan; advertising; market research; legalities.
  10. Wine
    • basic principles of wine making.

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.


  • Choose an appropriate site for a vineyard.
  • Simple Soil tests.
  • Measuring ph.
  • 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.

Tips for Grape Growing and Wine Making

There are good varieties of grape that will grow in most parts of the world, from cool temperate to sub tropical regions.

Grape Growing Tips (introductory)

  • Grapes are best suited to inland areas with a warm, fairly dry summer climate with a cold dry winter. Most varieties don’t tolerate hot humid, coastal conditions.
  • They are fairly adaptable to soils, but prefer good drainage.
  • Vines usually need to be supported by wires attached to a fence, wall or pergola. If you’re growing several vines, they can be trained to grow on a wire trellis consisting of two wires – the first wire, 1 m above ground, supports the fruiting canes; the second wire, 40 cm above it, supports the new shoots.
  • Fertilise the vines each year with blood and bone or a slow release fertiliser.
  • The grapes are produced on the new season’s growth, which arises from the previous year’s canes. Prune the vines hard each winter to remove excess vegetative growth and encourage new fruiting shoots (cut back up to 90% of the season’s growth). Leave several stubs (spurs) on the main arms of the vines – these will produce new canes and fruit the following summer.
  • Good wine-making varieties include:  Red wine: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Merlot, Shiraz  Rose: Pinot Noir

Tips for Home Wine-making

Pick the grapes, remove any leaves and stems and crush them as soon as possible to prevent contamination and excessive oxidation. For white wines, remove the skin before fermentation; for red wines, leave the skin on; for rose, the skins from red grapes are removed a short time after fermentation starts.

Ferment the juice. Wild yeasts start the fermentation process, but only produce about 4% alcohol and a not-so-good taste in the wine. Wine yeasts then take over, changing the remaining sugar into alcohol (bringing alcohol content to about 10%). If left unchecked, vinegar bacteria then take over turning the wine into vinegar. It is necessary to remove unwanted wild yeasts and vinegar bacteria to control the fermentation process and produce quality wine. By altering temperature the speed of fermentation can be controlled. Yeasts only live in temperatures between 4 and 32 degrees C. The closer to 4 degrees C, the slower they work; the closer to 32, the faster they work. A short fermentation period produces a light, inexpensive wine. A longer fermentation time produces a finer quality wine.


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 winemaking 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 loose nor dense (berries should not be too sparse, nor too tightly together)

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.



This course will give you a sound grounding in all the basic aspects of viticulture. It will enable you to make sure you are choosing the right site, the right place and the right grapes for your region or property. If you are already working in the viticulture industry it will give you the opportunity to back up and extend your knowledge. If you want to move into this industry it will give you the credibility to apply for jobs on vineyards. it is a great starting point for your future in this industry.



We also offer a Certificate in Viticulture that may be of interest to you – Find out more –



Meet some of our academics

Maggi BrownMaggi is regarded as an expert in organic growing throughout the UK, having worked for two decades as Education Officer at the world renowned Henry Doubleday Research Association. She has been active in education, environmental management and horticulture across the UK for more than three decades. Some of Maggi's qualifications include RHS Cert. Hort. Cert. Ed. Member RHS Life Member Garden Organic (HDRA) .
Diana Cole B.A. (Hons), Dip. Horticulture, BTEC Dip. Garden Design, Diploma Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development, PTLLS (Preparing to Teach in the Life Long Learning Sector), P.D.C. In addition to the qualifications listed above, Diana holds City & Guild construction qualifications and an NPTC pesticide spraying licence (PA1/PA6). Diana runs her own landscape gardening business (Arbella Gardens). Active in many organisations including the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers.
Yvonne SharpeRHS Cert.Hort, Dip.Hort, M.Hort, Cert.Ed., Dip.Mgt. Over 30 years experience in business, education, management and horticulture. Former department head at a UK government vocational college. Yvonne has traveled widely within and beyond Europe, and has worked in many areas of horticulture from garden centres to horticultural therapy. She has served on industry committees and been actively involved with amateur garden clubs for decades.

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