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Not everyone is a wine drinker. But those who are can be fanatical about it. They love to discuss wine, sample wine, and tour through wineries and vineyards, learning all they can about this ancient and revered beverage. People who are truly fascinated by wine, and who are intrigued not only by the taste but by the science of wine, often become viticulturists.

Viticulturists are scientists who study the growth of grapes. Though they often work with vineyards and winemakers, they can also be found working with grapes grown for juice, raisins, and other grape-related products. They are often horticulturists, who are trained in the science of growing other fruits, as well, but those who enjoy the culture of winemaking often stick to viticulture in vineyards.

While working with the grapes, they are responsible for everything from getting those seeds in the ground, raising the vines, and encouraging the growth of sweet, tasty grapes. Some viticulturists work exclusively with certain types of grapes, like concord grapes.

As well as being in charge of the grapes, viticulturists also look into environmentally sound agriculture. They have to contend with pests, soil erosion, and disease, and are always on the lookout for natural, safe ways to deal with these problems.

Viticulturists work closely with enologists when they work in vineyards, and must take care to grow healthy, delicious grapes. Because the winemaker can be the most talented, spectacular enologist out there, but if the viticulturist isn't just as fabulous, the wine will only be sour grape juice in a fancy bottle.
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  Interests and Skills  
Viticulturists enjoy growing and producing things outside. They are interested in the science of horticulture and botany. They need to be analytical, observant and have excellent interpersonal and communication skills They tend to be creative and innovative thinkers. It is also helpful for viticulturists to have good business sense.

  Typical Tasks  
  • Communicate regularly with the enologists (winemakers)
  • Plant, water, and fertilize vines
  • Transport vines to new locations
  • Monitor grape development, watching for frostbite or disease
  • Decide on the best time for harvesting
  • Oversee the picking of the grapes
  • Supervise assistants
  • Conduct tours of the vineyard
  • Depending on the season, viticulturists are involved in planting, fertilizing, harvesting, soil regeneration, or pesticide use. They also must always keep records and regular reports on the grapes' progress. Viticulturists work outside and in offices and laboratories. They travel to wine shows, wine contests, and to other vineyards to learn about other techniques and traditions.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Viticulturists work at universities teaching viticulture, but the most common place you'll find viticulturists is at wineries, amongst the grape vines. They may work at large wineries, smaller wineries, organic wineries, and specialty wineries (like ice wineries). They work long hours, especially during the harvest.
  • They work alongside assistants, and spend each day outside working with the grapes, or inside developing new agricultural and horticultural techniques to use.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Viticulturists can become full-time viticulture professors, or become enologists, botanists, sommeliers, or environmental scientists. They can write books on wine, wine tasting, and the science of wine. They can also open do-it-yourself wine shops.

  Educational Paths  
People interested in working as viticulturists generally pursue a university degree in horticulture or viticulture. There are programs at universities across North America, which will help you focus on the science and technology behind the business.
  Universities and Colleges
Clarkson UniversityColorado School of MinesDalhousie University
Oral Roberts UniversityPenn State HarrisburgTemple University
The University of HoustonThompson Rivers UniversityUNB Saint John
University of AlabamaUniversity of ArkansasUniversity of British Columbia
University of IowaUniversity of New BrunswickUniversity of Ottawa
York University
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