Winemaking Certificate Program | UC Davis Extension

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Winemaking Certificate Program

Learn the Science Behind the Art of Winemaking

UC Davis Extension's internationally acclaimed online Winemaking Certificate Program gives you the knowledge, confidence and practical insight to pursue your passion for winemaking. Whether you live in New York, New Zealand or anywhere in between, you’ll have convenient digital access to the finest instructors and learn the scientific framework for successful winemaking. Although the program is designed for those in production winemaking, its combination of academic knowledge and real-world, commercial application will be useful to anyone serious about a career in the wine industry.

The program features:

  • World-Class Wine Instructors—Gain one-on-one access to some of the industry's best instructors—seasoned winemakers, UC Davis faculty and industry experts
  • Online Convenience—The program's online format is flexible, interactive, convenient and provides an exceptional environment to expand your skills
  • Exceptional Networking Opportunities—Make critical connections with instructors and peers who can support you throughout your career
  • Learn it Today, Use it Tomorrow—Each lesson provides practical knowledge and techniques that can be used immediately in the vineyard and winery

About the Program:

The certificate consists of five quarter-long (10 week) courses that are taught online. The first class, Introduction to Wine and Winemaking, is an introductory, lower-division class that is taught every quarter. Lectures are provided by faculty in the Department of Viticulture and Enology. The remaining four classes are all equivalent to upper-division science courses and are quite demanding in terms of time and content. The second class is Wine Production. Please note: Due to high demand for the Winemaking Certificate Program, there is a waiting list for this course. The third class is Quality Control and Analysis in Winemaking. The fourth class is Wine Stability and Sensory Analysis. The fifth class is Viticulture for Winemakers. Courses three, four and five may also be subject to wait lists due to demand.

With the exception of the first course, all courses are limited in enrollment to 40 students to ensure sufficient student-instructor interaction. All courses are offered multiple times during the year. Students must receive a grade of "C" or better in each course to earn this certificate. Due to the popularity of the certificate, students should expect to complete the program in 18 months to two years.

Although courses in this program draw heavily on material from the UC Davis curriculum, with the exception of Introduction to Wine and Winemaking, the courses are not duplicates of courses taught in the degree program at Davis. The classes are graded and rigorous, as are the courses within the degree program, but the online classes are somewhat less focused on theory and assume that the student has some practical experience in Wine Production. When successfully completed, these courses lead to a certificate in winemaking, but cannot be transferred in place of similar courses taught at UC Davis for the Bachelor of Science in Viticulture and Enology. For more information on how this program can benefit you and what you can expect to learn, visit the program FAQs page.

Estimated Cost:

  • Enrollment fees for Wine Production, Quality Control, Wine Stability and Viticulture for Winemakers are $2,000 each.
  • Introduction to Wine and Winemaking has a fee of $685.
  • Students will be expected to pay a one-time, non-refundable certificate fee of $125 when enrolling in course two, Wine Production.
  • Please review Course Fees and Policies before applying to the program.

How to Apply:

  • If you are interested in completing the Winemaking Certificate Program, you must apply for acceptance into the program.
  • One semester of university/college-level chemistry is required as a prerequisite for acceptance into the program. See Chemistry Requirements.


Quarterly schedule of courses

  Course Units F W SP SU
Introduction to Wine and Winemaking 3.0 O O O O
Wine Production 4.0 O O O  
Wine Stability and Sensory Analysis 4.0   O   O
Quality Control and Analysis in Winemaking 4.0   O O  
Viticulture for Winemakers 3.5 O O O  
F=Fall W=Winter SP=Spring SU=Summer; Schedules subject to change.
O = Online C = Classroom OC = Online and Classroom H = Hybrid


Required Courses

3.0 quarter units academic credit X402.26

Whether you're interested in a career in the wine industry or are just a devoted oenophile, you can take this unique course from anywhere in the world. Access top-quality, college-level course material in an interactive, web-based environment, and gain exposure to internationally recognized instructors, including industry experts and UC Davis faculty.

This course is designed for individuals working in the wine industry and affiliated networks, entry-level winery employees, wine marketing and hospitality workers, distributors, restaurateurs, wine enthusiasts and anyone wanting to explore a career in viticulture and enology at UC Davis.

Learn about topics such as:

  • Wine and wine-growing areas around the world
  • Fundamentals of the winemaking process
  • Wine and health issues
  • Interpreting a wine label
  • Basic wine tasting
  • The history of wine

Lectures are provided by faculty in the UC Davis Department of Viticulture and Enology.

This course can be taken as a stand-alone course or as the first course in the Winemaking Certificate Program. Learn more about the certificate program or complete an application.

Note: The following four classes are limited in size to 40 students to ensure student/instructor interaction.

Unlike Introduction to Wine and Winemaking, these courses expect and require significant interaction with the instructor and fellow students in the form of readings, online discussions and written assignments, which you will submit via the Internet.

Wine Production
4.0 quarter units academic credit X402.21

Please note: Due to high demand for the Winemaking Certificate Program, there is a waiting list of 3-6 months for this course. In order to be added to the waiting list for Wine Production you must first complete and submit an application. If you are accepted, you will be placed on the waiting list and you will be notified via email when there is space available in this course.

Gain an overview of all technical aspects of wine production with an emphasis on fermentation management and pre-fermentation processes, options and strategies. Explore how the many winemaking decisions affect the resulting wine’s style. Focusing primarily on pre-fermentation decisions and the management of alcoholic and malolactic fermentations, the course also addresses post-fermentation wine processing, which is covered in much greater detail in Wine Stability and Sensory Analysis.  Topics addressed include: 

  • The influence of grape composition and ripening on harvest decision and resulting wine style
  • Grape and must processing (including juice and must treatment and additions)
  • The alcoholic fermentation with emphasis on fermentation management
  • The management of the malolactic fermentation
  • An overview of cellar operations and wine stability (clarification, filtration, fining, aging and blending of wines)

The curriculum of this course is closely based on the curriculum of VEN 124 Wine Production, the classroom-based course offered by the Department of Viticulture and Enology, UC Davis. You will receive the same lecture material as students in VEN 124 with the addition of online case studies augmented by student reports. The class is limited in size to 40 students to ensure student/instructor interaction. 

Quality Control and Analysis in Winemaking
4.0 quarter units academic credit X402.22

The curriculum of this course is focused on wine microbiology and wine analysis and quality control. Explore both the theory and practice of winemaking analytical methods, when they should be used and how they impact the critical decision-making moments during winemaking. Gain an understanding of the parameters of juice, fermentation, wine aging and conservation, problem solving, bottling and legal issues. Aspects of microbial control from grape harvest to bottling of wine will also be presented. These practical winery analyses will demonstrate various physical, chemical, biochemical, and microbiological methods. Emphasis will be given to competency in the theory and calculations of wine chemical and microbiological analyses toward wine quality controls.

Topics include:

  • Laboratory design
  • Microorganisms important to winemaking and wine spoilage
  • Microbiological techniques and controls
  • Basic quality control analyses theory and application
  • How and when analytical results are important to winemaking

Viticulture for Winemakers
3.5 quarter units academic credit X402.25

It is true that great winemaking begins in the vineyard. Review how basic viticulture relates to wine production and wine quality. Learn the science behind how wine grapes are grown, and study the biological, environmental and managerial factors that influence fruit quality. Your weekly exercise will be to develop a hypothetical vineyard to meet specific winemaking objectives during the course. Topics to be covered include:

  • The importance of quality plant material
  • Soils and cover crops
  • Grapevine viruses, diseases and pests
  • Vineyard development, pruning and water relations
  • Nutrition and vine balance

Wine Stability and Sensory Analysis

This course combines the two important topics of wine stability and sensory evaluation. Gain an introduction to the science involved in controlling wine stability in bottled wines. Explore various methods for testing and controlling wine stability including: filtration, bitartrate stability, protein instability, metal stability, fining agents and oxidative and hydrolytic enzymes. Learn basic anatomy and physiology of the human organoleptic senses as they influence our interaction with wine, in addition to basic sensory science analyses, such as component recognitions tests, discrimination tests, paired comparisons and triangular tests.

Topics include:

  • Sensory physiology and basic sensory testing methods
  • Clarification, fining and filtration
  • Potassium bitartrate instability and control
  • Protein instability and prevention
  • Volatile sulfur compounds and remediation
  • Red wine color stability
  • Microbial stability and bottling


"If you are like me, with the desire to jump into the industry with both feet, this program will give you all the confidence you need to take that first step."

Molly Pullen-Hudson, ViewPoint Wines, Boulder, Colo.

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