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How Do I Become an Oenologist?

A vineyard.
Wine fermenting in a vat.
Glasses of white wine.
A sommelier showing a bottle of wine to a customer.
Article Details
  • Written By: Harriette Halepis
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 09 September 2014
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In order to become an oenologist, or a wine maker, you must love everything about wine. From the grapes to the marketing that makes a good vineyard great, it's impossible to become an oenologist without a true passion for wine. Aside from a desire to learn and understand everything about wine, it is also important to obtain a few necessary skills.

To become an oenologist, you must also know how a vineyard functions, how to harvest grapes, how to apply chemistry to wine-making, and the wine-making process in general. All of these skills must be thoroughly understood prior to becoming a wine expert. There are, essentially, two ways to become an oenologist. The first way is to acquire an internship at a local vineyard, and the second way is to attend a university that has a viticulture program.

If you happen to live near vineyards, take the time to visit each property. By speaking with managers, walking through a vineyard, and asking about the wine process, you can begin to understand how wine is made. Many vineyards require additional help during harvest season, which happens during the fall months in most parts of the world. Vineyards that have small boutiques on premises may also require additional help. Attempting to gain a job at a vineyard is an excellent way to become an oenologist.

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Alternately, you can look for a university near you that offers a viticulture or enology program. These programs are becoming more and more popular as wine becomes a larger part of everyday life. Frequently, students who study enology have obtained other degrees in science-related fields such as microbiology or plant physiology, though acquiring this type of degree prior to studying enology is not absolutely necessary.

You may also want to consider obtaining a Master of Wine degree, which is only offered by the Institute of Masters of Wine located in the United Kingdom. This accreditation is recognized around the world, and it is a degree that will help you gain lucrative jobs within the wine field. After obtaining on-the-job training or a recognized degree, you can become an oenologist.

Oenologists can find employment by applying to vineyards as winemakers, seeking out sommelier positions in restaurants, or by applying for teaching positions at local universities. While the position of an oenologist can be a rewarding one, it is often a job that requires long hours. If you're seeking to become an oenologist, begin by learning all you can about wine, and then decide whether you want to work as an intern or attend a university.

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