Texas Viticulture Certificate Program Opens Applications in June

Texas Tech and Texas AgriLife Extension are joint hosts of the course.

Next fall the state’s thriving grape and wine industry will have a new group of trained professionals, thanks to an innovative program known as the Texas Viticulture Certificate Program. But before anyone can even gaze on a grape, they’ll need to apply to the program.

“We’ll have a new cohort of students for the Texas Viticulture Certificate Program in the fall, so it’s time for potential students to start thinking about getting their applications completed,” said Ed Hellman, a professor of viticulture and extension specialist with Texas AgriLife Extension and Texas Tech University.

The application period runs from June 1-30, and the program begins Sept. 15.

A collaboration between Texas Tech’s Department of Plant and Soil Science and Texas AgriLife Extension, the certification program was designed for people with a serious interest in commercial grape production or professional work in the viticulture industry, said Hellman, who also serves as the program’s director. Students must successfully complete six program courses – five online and one practical –within a two-year period to receive professional certification.

Operating a commercial vineyard is a time-consuming and capital-intensive venture, so the people going through the program must be committed to that goal, he said. Participants are required to complete a “Prospective Winegrower Workshop” through AgriLife Extension or other academic viticulture coursework as a prerequisite. Two opportunities remain before the certificate program application deadline: Fredericksburg on May 2 and Lubbock on June 17.

The curriculum includes grapevine biology, site assessment and vineyard development, and vine nutrition and water management. The remaining courses are canopy management and crop load management; disease, insect and weed management; and hands‐on vineyard practices.

The program’s cost is $3,000, and the class size is limited to 40 participants, Hellman said.

Instructors for the viticulture certificate program are:

• Penny Adams, AgriLife Extension viticulture advisor – Hill Country

• Fran Pontasch, AgriLife Extension viticulture advisor – North Texas

• Dusty Timmons, AgriLife Extenion viticulture advisor – High Plains and West Texas

• Fritz Westover, AgriLife Extension viticulture advisor – Texas Gulf Coast

• Kirk Williams, program instructor – Texas Tech University

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CONTACT: Norman Martin, unit coordinator, College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, Texas Tech University, (806) 742-2802 or norman.martin@ttu.edu.