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What Is a Viticulturist?

A vineyard.
Viticulturists can use science to make vineyards more efficient and productive.
A viticulturist works with grapes.
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  • Written By: Felicia Dye
  • Edited By: J.T. Gale
  • Last Modified Date: 11 November 2014
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A viticulturist is a professional whose business is grapes. Viticulturists play important roles in the production of wine. These individuals usually strive to ensure that the grapes that will be used are grown in a manner that will provide maximum yield and flavor. Some trained viticulturists, however, work in other areas of the wine industry, as well.

Viticulture is a science. It is branch of horticulture that concentrates on the study of vines. A graduate of such studies is called a viticulturist.

This individual plays a fundamental role in the wine production process. All grapes are not suitable for profitable wine-making. A viticulturist is a person who is trained to grow grapes that are suitable. He applies various types of scientific knowledge, combined with agricultural techniques, to impact the yield of grape vines and the quality of the grapes that are produced.

To do this, a viticulturist needs to be educated about soil types. Profitable grapes cannot be grown in all types of soil. There are some soil types that are not suitable as they are, but that can be made suitable using fertilization or other techniques. He needs to know how to prepare whatever type of soil he is working with for planting.

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Once the planting is done, the viticulturist needs to care for the vines. In a wine-making venture, the vines are an investment. If anything happens to them, it usually results in great loss to the business. Caring for the vines includes continuing attention paid to the soil conditions, but also attention needs to be paid to canopies.

The canopy is the part of a grape vine that is above ground. The viticulturist must concentrate on proper pruning. He must have knowledge about diseases and pests, and he should know how to deal with them. He should also understand how factors such as photosynthesis and irrigation will affect the outcome.

At the end of the growing season, the viticulturist is also generally responsible for overseeing the harvest. This is a crucial step in the wine-making process. If the grapes are harvested too early or if they are allowed to stay on the vines too long, it could be disastrous.

Since the condition of the grape vines and the grapes are central parts of their jobs, viticulturists spend a lot of time working outdoors. During certain parts of the season, they may be required to work long or abnormal hours. These individuals also normally have a good taste for wine.

Some viticulturists opt for other wine industry jobs. A viticulturist may be hired, for example, to act as an adviser to numerous wine farmers. He could also work as a wine buyer, a cellar manager, or he could become a teacher for upcoming generations of viticulturists.

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