Viticulture

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

Learn abour Grape Growing for Vineyard or Winery

Get Serious about Grape growing

Ten lessons covering the history of viticulture, the current state of the industry, wine and table grapes, dried grapes, cultural practices (trellising, soils, planting, pruning, irrigation, pests & diseases); vineyard design, improving quality, harvest & post harvest procedures, winemaking, marketing and more.

  • Online Course
  • Alternatively, study by Distance education using paper based notes or a CD

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 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 leaf folder
    • 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 and 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 and 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.
  • 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.

What Grapes Do We Grow Commercially?

Grapes belong to the Vitaceae family. Within this family, only the genus Vitis is of any great interest to viticulture, although four of the nine genera in this family yield grapes. The Vitis genus includes some 60 to 80 evergreen and deciduous shrubs, mainly of a climbing habit, supporting themselves by tendrils.

Almost all commonly cultivated grapevines belong to the species Vitis vinifera, although other species have some use in viticulture: for rootstocks, materials for hybridisation and, in some circumstances, for actual grape production. The commonly grown grape vine (Vitus vinifera – also known as the European Grape) originated from Asia Minor and has been carried with civilisation for thousands of years throughout history. V. vinifera was taken to Mexico by the Spaniards. English settlers took Old World grapes with them and planted them along the Atlantic seaboard.

These however failed due to the presence of the insect phylloxera, and fungus diseases like Black Rot, Downy Mildew and Powdery Mildew, as well as deleterious effect of low winter temperatures and hot humid summers.

V. vinifera requires a warm temperate climate, with minimum temperatures of -2°C while dormant,
-1°C at bud burst and -0.5°C when in full flower. The root system is deep, and as such can draw water from lower levels of the soil; hence the need for high rainfall or irrigation is only moderate. Effective irrigation methods in suitable climates can, however, improve quality and quantity of yields.

The vine does not tolerate wet soils in summer but will tolerate some wetness in winter.

When on a trellis it will tolerate wind reasonably well, but not strong gale force winds. Though sandy soils are preferred, grapes will tolerate most soils provided they are deep and well drained.

Some other grape species that are of significance to viticulture include:

Vitis amurensis
Vitis labrusca
Vitis riparia
Vitis rupestris
Vitis berlandeieri
Vitis aestivalis
Vitis cinerea
Vitis rotundifolia

The Genera Vitis and Muscadinia
Plants from both of these genera are called “grapes”. The world viticulture industry concentrates on growing cultivars of Vitis vinifera. Cultivars of other species from both genera are however grown for edible fruit in various parts of the world.

Vitis has forked tendrils, sheds its bark, has a diaphragm (continuous pith) at the nodes, and elongated clusters with berries that stick to the pedicels at maturity.

Muscadinia has tight bark that does not shed, simple tendrils that do not fork, nodes without a diaphragm, and small clusterlets with berries that detach as they mature.

V. vinifera also have intermittent tendrils, thin, smooth shiny leaves with 3, 5, or 7 lobes. The berry size varies.

Species used for grape production
V. vinifera cultivars produce over 90% of the world's grapes, whether as pure vinifera or hybridised.
The most important grape species used in North America are:
V. labrusca 'Concord', 'Niagara'
V. aestivalis 'Norton', 'Delaware'
V. vulpina 'Elvira', 'Clinton'
V. rotundifolia 'Scuppernong', 'Eden', 'Muscadine'
V. rupestris 'Rupestris, 'St. George'

The Concord variety makes about 80% of the total American production. Many grape varieties have been cross-bred between species and even other hybrids to produce improved characteristics of the fruit, growth habit or even disease resistance.

WHO SHOULD DO THIS COURSE?

  • Those working in the industry or wanting to gain a foothold
  • Hobby farmers
  • Back yard enthusiasts
 

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