Frequently Asked Questions | UC Davis Continuing and Professional Education

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Frequently Asked Questions

How will this program benefit me?

What can I expect to learn?

How does this program work?

What are the chemistry requirements?

How long does it take to complete the Program?

How will this program benefit me?

The Winemaking Certificate Program is a series of five online classes created in cooperation with the internationally recognized UC Davis Viticulture and Enology Department. It is designed to give students around the world the tools and essential knowledge to pursue their passion for winemaking. The primary goal of the program is to provide a scientific and technical framework for those already working in the industry or students with a desire to be involved in production winemaking in the future. Using the latest web-based educational platform and a core of instructors with extensive commercial experience, the emphasis is on understanding the chemical and microbiological processes in the making of wine, so that better decisions can be made in the winery setting. Although aimed primarily at wine production personnel, the technical information in these courses may be useful to other wine industry professionals, (for example sales and marketing, public relations or operations), as well as to avid home winemakers and enthusiasts.

What can I expect to learn?

In this program you will learn how to:

  • Use a systematic and scientific approach to the practice of assessing wine qualities that influence winemaking or purchasing decisions
  • Clarify wine in an appropriate manner
  • Evaluate the stability of wine and suggest remedial action for problem wines
  • Understand the principle mechanisms of sensory perception
  • Identify the major and minor components of wine and understand the importance of balance among components
  • Recognize major faults in wine such as imbalance, oxidation, microbial spoilage and hazes
  • Apply fundamental principles of analytical chemistry and microbiology
  • Gain theoretical experience with some specific analytical methods and treatments used in winemaking
  • Understand the factors that are important in the growing of quality grapes

How does this program work?

All five courses are administered 100 percent via the Internet. Aside from assigned readings in the textbook, students access all course materials through the class website. Lessons are delivered through recorded voice-over PowerPoint lectures, downloadable reading materials and access to assigned articles from the American Journal of Enology and Viticulture and other sources. There are weekly expectations and due dates for assignments, but students can access the website at their convenience. Students interact with the instructor and fellow students through threaded discussion forums, as well as via email and live webinar sessions (which are recorded for those not able to attend “live”). The introductory course is assessed by a midterm and final, which are both timed, closed-book, multiple-choice tests. The other four courses involve considerably more time and effort in general. The material is covered in much more depth and assignments for these courses are more of a case study type. These open book assignments are submitted online and individual feedback is provided by the instructor.

What are the chemistry requirements?

We have found that being successful in the Winemaking Certificate Program is strongly correlated with having a sufficiently solid science background, so we require satisfactory completion of one semester of college-level chemistry for admission. For those students without this background, the best option is usually a local community college course. Unfortunately, finding the ideal offering is often problematic since all of the topics important to winemaking science are rarely covered in a single semester with sufficient rigor for our purposes. Chemistry offerings for science majors are typically rigorous enough, but one usually has to take two semesters to get to the critical concepts of acid and solution chemistry. The “Chemistry for Everyday Living”-type courses may touch on most of the topics in one semester, but are rarely rigorous enough for our program. The best compromise is often a chemistry course for health sciences majors where the chemistry is focused more on biological systems and meets most of the criteria. If there is no community college option available, there is a self-directed, online solution that may be appropriate. Feel free to contact us for more information about your specific situation.

How long does it take to complete the Program?

The Winemaking Certificate Program consists of five quarter-long courses. Because there is a waiting list for Wine Production (after completion of Introduction to Wine and Winemaking) and not all courses are offered every quarter, it is not possible to complete the program in five consecutive quarters. In addition, many students do not want to take more than one or two courses per year. However, students that are motivated and able to take courses throughout the year can usually complete the program in eighteen months to two years’ time. Our staff will work with your individual situation to complete the certificate in a reasonable and efficient manner.