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Wine - an alternative to alcoholic drinks has come to occupy a dominant position with changing urban life style. It is not so simple and easy to make a perfect blend of wine. Only those who have a pure love for wine can excel in this field as it involves a lot of hard work. Some talent, experimentation and a little luck is required to create great tasting wine.
Wine is made through a process known as fermentation. This process requires large amounts of fruit juice or plant matter juice. Once the juice is extracted or pressed from the fruit, micro-organisms, known as yeast, convert the sugar in the juice to alcohol. This process typically takes several weeks or even several months. The wine is then usually aged in barrels and bottled in glass wine bottles or jugs. The tastes of different wines vary drastically, depending on a number of factors. For instance, the type of fruit used to make a particular wine will often help create the predominant taste of the wine. The sugar content of the fruit and any additional additives will also affect the taste of the final product.
Viticulture and Oenology are the two major terms associated with wine making. While Viticulture involves with the series of events that take place in the vineyard, Oenology deals with the study of all aspects of winemaking.
Viticulture considered as a branch of horticulture, is the science, production and study of grapes. When grapes are used for making wines, viticulture is referred to as viniculture. Viticulturists are those who cultivate grapes, especially for winemaking. They mostly work in vineyards and their main job involves monitoring and controlling pests and diseases, fertilizing, irrigation, canopy management, monitoring fruit development and characteristics, deciding when to harvest, vine pruning etc.
Oenology alias enology is the science and study of all aspects of wine and winemaking that involves starting from the selection of the grapes till bottling the produced wine for the market. The word oenology is derived from the Greek word 'oenos', which means wine, and ‘logy’ which means study. People who are associated with wine production are referred to as winemakers or oenologists/ enologists.
Both these outdoor and indoor aspects of wine production are often intimately involved, since vineyard management and the resulting grape characteristics provide the basis from which winemaking can begin. Sometimes both these duties are performed by the same individual.
The popularity of wine and its benefits is increasing day by day and has created a whole new realm of career opportunities in the wine industry. With greater expertise and more professional approach in all its aspects, from grape growing to wine marketing, this industry has a promising bright future. Even though wine making industry is a male-dominated one, nowadays females are also entering into this field.
Those with a degree in science preferably with a background in biochemistry, horticulture, agriculture, food sciences, chemistry, biotechnology or microbiology can opt for a career in winemaking. Degree programs offered in the field of wine studies are typically a blend of two other degrees namely oenology and viticulture which gives an idea about the cultivation of grapes and the production of wine. Almost every Indian state has at least one agriculture university and most of them offer undergraduate and postgraduate courses in horticulture with specialisation in oenology and viticulture.
The Indian Institute of Vine and Wine at Narayangaon, India's first wine institute offers a three-year diploma programme (from 10th level), a four-year degree programme and two-year masters degree programme in various areas of wine making, marketing, finance and vine growing. The institute also offers research in the field of wine making. The degree will be awarded by University of Adelaide and would not only be valid in India and Australia, but all over the world. The students would be required to move to Australia during their last semester and would also appear for exams in Australia. During internship, the candidates can learn everything on the job – from working at the vineyard, to transferring wines from tanks, to bottling.
Gargi Agriculture Research and Training Institute (GARTI), Nashik (Maharashtra) offers 2 years diploma and 3 years B.Sc wine technology course for 10+2 students and 2 years master degree courses for graduates. Ambedakar Marathwada University Aurangabad offers 1 year Post Graduate Diploma in Wine Technology. Students those have passed B.Sc. degree in Life Science, B.Tech. in Biotech/Food Tech. or B.E. in Biotechnology, Chemical, Biochemical engineering or B. Pharm. are eligible to seek admission to this course. Admission is based on the marks obtained in Entrance Test /Examination.
Most course curriculum is designed to give students a global vision of the wine industry and give training in viticulture and oenology, project management in the wine industry, international wine environment, wine tourism, strategic brand management, finance and legal rules, sales and negotiation in the wine industry. .
Many universities/colleges overseas offer academic training in Oenology, wine production and wine tasting. University of Adelaide, Australia (www.adelaide.edu); Unversite du Vin (University of Wine), France (www.universite-du-vin.com); Curtin University, Australia; Lincoln University, New Zealand; UCLA, Los Angeles; School of Wine and Spirits Business, Bourgogne are some among them. Candidates who have completed their 10+2 from a recognized board are eligible for the diploma, certificate and bachelor’s programme in Oenology. Those with an undergraduate degree in wine science/ viticulture / microbiology / chemistry/ biology or other allied fields from a recognized university can apply for the master's course. In addition to this academic qualification, candidates should possess a good command over English language along with a good score in TOEFL / IELTS / TWE / TEEP. The application process for each institute differ from one another. Check the official website of the institutes for specific application process.
The foremost and the most needed attribute for a wine maker is expert knowledge of the fermentation process and skill in the art of blending. They should have good knowledge of different varieties of grapes & wines, refined sense of taste and smell, ability to evaluate the quality of wine and an understanding of the wine market. Analytical and critical thinking, eye for detail, versatility, creativity, patience, good memory, planning skills, problem-solving skills, communication and interpersonal skills are also required.
It is helpful for Viticulturists working in the vineyard to have the ability to operate farm machinery, and vehicles such as tractors or forklifts. They should possess excellent knowledge of vineyard and vineyard technology. They must be physically fit enough to put in more hours of work during harvest season.
In this industry, work involves taking decisions and managing the process of winemaking at various stages right from growing grapes to packaging wine in bottles. It involves visiting vineyards for grape berry sampling, assessing maturity of grapes, and deciding harvest dates. A winemaker is required to carry out laboratory analyses to check sugar levels, acidity, and post-fermentation alcohol levels. He also needs to plan harvest activities and taste grape juice at the wine press etc.
The main responsibility of an Oenologist is supervising and managing the different stages of wine production or winemaking process. After harvest, they take the grapes into a winery and blend together the different varieties of grapes to create finished wine. They direct the grape crushing process and when pulp is formed after crushing, add ingredients such as yeast, sulfites and sugar and then heat the must to activate fermentation. Based on wine's chemical composition, oenologists decide when a wine can be blended and bottled.
Oenologist also supervise laboratory technicians, who analyze samples of wine while it ages. They direct and manage the work of cellar assistants, who operate and maintain the various machines utilized during winemaking. They also recruit, supervise, manage and train winery workers involved in the production and harvesting of grapes, give guided tours, conduct tasting and advise visitors about various aspects of wine and grapes, keep records of techniques used and harvest outcomes for each season, composing copy for wine bottle labels, developing new vineyards and selling to distributors and customers.
Viticulturists also do more or less similar work as Oenologists. Viticulturists spend a lot of time outdoors in vineyards, but also work indoors in laboratories, offices and grape processing facilities.
Various career paths in this industry involves :
Opportunities are available in almost every Indian wine company for skilled professionals, with a thorough knowledge of different types of wines. There are about 70 small and big wineries in India with most of them based in Maharashtra. One can start their career as winemaker by joining as an assistant, helping the winemakers in wine production or as a trainee in a vineyard/ winemaking industry under the supervision of a senior winemaker. The training will help one to gain knowledge and skills in the art of blending. After training, a graduate can progress to an assistant winemaker, associate winemaker and then chief winemaker. One can also develop new wines and can become an independent wine maker by running their own winemaking business. But for becoming an independent wine maker, there is a long process of learning.
Besides these, other career paths exists are in the fields of writing, training and wine education. Wine writers are required to taste wine and write reviews about it and wine educator can find employment in the teaching field. Experienced hands in wine making industry, recommend fresh graduates to work abroad for about three to five years for getting exposure and experience in this field.
The remuneration of winemakers vary depending on one's qualification, experience, position and organization. A wine maker/ Oenologist can begin his career with a starting salary of Rs. 20,000/- per month. Experienced wine makers can earn a salary between Rs 40,000 - Rs 60,000 per month. Chief winemaker can receive Rs. 70,000 per month. Vineyard managers with experience can get even over Rs 1.5 lakhs per month.
For institutes offering courses in wine technology, click on the following links.
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