Education and Training Requirements
In high school, you should take courses in mathematics, biology, chemistry, marketing, computer science, and physics. You should also take English and other courses that enhance communications skills. Foreign languages, particularly French and German, may enhance opportunities for study or research abroad. Since many wine industry laborers in the United States speak Spanish as their native language, it is a good idea to take Spanish classes.
Although some wineries offer on-the-job training in the form of apprenticeships for high school graduates, the majority of entry-level positions go to college graduates.
A bachelor's degree in enology or viticulture is preferred, but a degree in food or fermentation science or a related subject such as microbiology or biochemistry is acceptable. Specific courses related to winery management should include wine analysis and wine microbiology. Business, economics, marketing, and computer science should also be part of the degree program. There are enology programs at the University of California-Davis, California State University-Fresno, the University of Washington, and Cornell University. Washington State University Tri-Cities offers a bachelor's of science degree in agriculture with emphasis in viticulture and enology. Associate's degrees in enology and related areas are available at Walla Walla Community College, Chemeketa Community College, and other schools.
As competition in the field increases, many enologists are choosing to pursue a master's degree and to gain experience in related scientific research.
Other Education or Training
Many enologists choose to continue professional enrichment through continuing education classes, symposia, and conference workshops from organizations such as the American Society for Enology and Viticulture and the American Wine Society. Topics include grape growing in challenging climates, precision viticulture, water efficiency, plant pests and diseases, and soil technology. Contact these organizations for more information.
Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements
Certification or Licensing
No certification is available for enologists. Winery owners must have a business license from their state.
Most wineries require their workers to be at least 21 years of age.
Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits
Learn about every stage of the winemaking process. If you are age 21 or older, you can experiment by making your own wine at home. To gain additional experience, try to land an entry-level job at a winery.
You will need excellent verbal and written communication skills to be a successful enologist, and you must be able to handle multiple tasks and priorities. You must take direction from supervisors and work well on a team. Basic computer knowledge is important, as is familiarity with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives and state regulations concerning winemaking, handling, and transport.
As a manager, an enologist should be able to communicate and work well with people. The ability to interpret data is vital, as much of the enologist's planning responsibilities involve working with crop and market forecasts. Attention to detail is critical. An enologist should be able to spend long hours analyzing information and make and implement decisions concerning this information.
Enologists must be familiar with safety equipment and procedures. You need the physical strength to climb stairs, work on high platforms, lift and carry 40 pounds, bend, squat, and stretch.