Texas Viticulture Certificate Program accepting applications for next two-year series

LUBBOCK — The Texas Viticulture Certificate Program will begin accepting applications June 1 for its next educational series leading to a professional certification in viticulture, said the program’s director.

Applications will be accepted from June 1-30 for the program beginning in mid-September, said Dr. Ed Hellman, professor of viticulture and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service viticulture specialist, Lubbock.

Applications will be taken from June 1-30 for the next  two-year series toward a professional certification in viticulture. (Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo courtesy of Fritz Westover)

Applications will be taken from June 1-30 for the next two-year series leading to a professional certification in viticulture. (Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo)

“The program involves completing six comprehensive courses held over a two-year period, which leads to the professional certificate in viticulture,” said Hellman, who is the program director. “We are in the process of concluding our third viticulture certification series and can soon begin accepting applications for the next one.”

Hellman said the certification program is now headquartered at the Hill Country University Center in Fredericksburg.

“The Hill Country University Center is a state-of-the-art educational facility with excellent lecture halls, science labs and computer labs,” he said. “A dedicated teaching vineyard is established at the University Center that provides viticulture students with an outstanding experiential learning opportunity.”

Detailed information on the viticulture certification program and an application form may be found at http://winegrapes.tamu.edu/viticulturecertificate.html.

“The Texas Viticulture Certificate Program is designed for wine industry entrepreneurs and prospective vineyard managers seeking comprehensive knowledge of viticultural principles and commercial grape production practices,” Hellman said. “The program is a collaboration of the department of plant and soil sciences at Texas Tech University and the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. Instruction is conveniently delivered through a combination of online courses and hands-on training in our own teaching vineyard.”

Hellman said participants must apply for admission into the program and meet prerequisites, and that enrollment is limited to no more than 40 people.

“The certificate program operates on a cohort basis to enhance the learning experience and facilitate networking opportunities for participants,” Hellman said. “For this reason, the program is limited to 40 participants who are willing to make the commitment to move through all courses over the two-year period. Enrollment in individual courses is not available.”

Hellman said while the classes do not carry academic credit, the coursework can be rigorous and demanding in terms of time and content. Successful completion of the courses leads to receiving a professional certificate in viticulture, and participants receive 17 continuing education units for a total of 170 clock hours of instruction.

The six educational modules of the program cover: grapevine biology, site assessment and vineyard development, vine nutrition and water management, canopy management and crop load management, and disease, insect and weed management. There also is a vineyard practices module in which participants receive hands-on, experiential instruction through instructor-led activities on standard vineyard practices.

Applicants should have attended the Prospective Winegrower Workshop, but due to its non-availability in 2013, a suitable substitute is to thoroughly review Considerations for Starting a Vineyard,” including following the links to additional information, Hellman said. Other academic viticulture coursework may be considered to fulfill the prerequisite at the discretion of the program director.

An application form for the 2013 Viticulture Certificate Program and instructions for its submission can also be found at http://winegrapes.tamu.edu.

Program cost is $3,200. Payment may be made by check or credit card and payment need not be included with the application form.

“The Wine Society of Texas also has an annual Scholarship Grant Program for individuals studying viticulture and enology in Texas,” Hellman said. For scholarship details and an application form, go to http://www.winesocietyoftexas.org/.

There are a few recommended textbooks, plus some essential computer requirements for the online portion of the program, he said. Minimum computer requirements are a 400 MHz or faster processor, 128 megabytes or more of RAM, 5-10 megabytes of free disk space, and Internet access with a minimum Internet connection speed of 56k per second.

“Since most of the lectures are narrated and delivered via streaming audio, a high-speed Internet connection is highly recommended,” Hellman said. “And a reliable email address and word processing software will also be needed.”

Applicants accepted into the program will be provided with Internet access to coursework following completion of registration.

For more information on the viticulture certification program, contact Hellman at 806-746-6101, ewhellman@ag.tamu.edu.

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