If we’ve previously talked about you getting into the wine industry or are at a stage where you realize you need a professional winemaker, the chances are I’ve pitched the Penn State Online Winemaking Certificate Program to you.
While I provide regular online education and virtual consulting options through DG Winemaking to address the needs of wineries across the U.S., I do believe having an enological foundation in the winemaking process helps winemakers, cellar employees and wineries improve over time.
As the next class, Winery Regulations, is set to start May 13th, I’d like to provide you with more information about the program, the benefits associated with it, and insight into how I see it helping new or developing wineries.
What is the Winemaking Certificate program?
The Penn State Winemaking Certificate is an educational program that delivers class material in a hybrid-format: while must instruction is provided online with independent study, students also engage with the program’s instructor and classmates through video face-to-face sessions. This creates organic discussion and class bonding. Furthermore, some classes (e.g., the Fall semester Wine Chemistry course, and the Spring semester Winery Juice and Handling Equipment course) require partial- or full-weekend on-site, in-classroom learning opportunities. These face-to-face course supplements provide hands-on opportunities for progressed learning and go more in-depth on particular topics.
The entire certificate is composed of nine different courses:
- Introduction to Wine Production
- Winery Regulations
- Harvest Winery Equipment
- Wine Juice and Handling Equipment
- Fining, Filtration, and Bottling
- Sensory Evaluation
- Wine Chemistry
- Winery Sanitation
The total time commitment with courses varies from 14 to 28 hours.
Individuals can complete the entire certificate within a year. Or, if preferred, the classes can be taken at a more leisurely pace and dependent on the individual’s schedule.
Finally, classes are graded via assessments to maintain program standards.
What class is coming up?
From May 13th to June 26th, the Winery Regulations course will take place online. The final for the course is scheduled for July 3rd and the course costs $750 for enrollment.
Per the class description: “This course introduces federal and state requirements for record keeping and reporting in a commercial winery, from harvest through sales. Students learn about regulations governing wineries and retail outlets, including record-keeping, periodic reporting of operations, excise tax, filing, and labeling laws.” In addition to having time to complete various tax and reporting forms, topics covered in this class include:
- History of winery regulations, as well as, federal and state agencies.
- Wine classes identification.
- Record keeping.
- Bottling and inventory records.
- Federal report of operations and the excise tax form.
- Federal labeling requirements.
- PLCB (Pennsylvania) requirements.
How is this program beneficial to you?
Over the years, I’ve seen many individuals that get into the wine industry who look for educational programs that act as an introduction to commercial winemaking. I encourage a good educational base in winemaking, as it helps winemakers and cellar employees grow with a greater understanding on what is going on with the wine through production.
What I love about this certificate program in particular is:
- The courses were designed with input from wine industry members.
- The focus is on winery businesses outside of western-producing states.
- The instructor actively works within the industry.
- The coursework is applicable and many use the materials to their advantage early on in their business development process.
I’ve seen a lot of key advantages in winery businesses from students that graduate from this course work, as well. Many come into the industry with a clearer idea on what winemaking operations are important, what makes good wines, how to develop wine quality over time, and a continued desire to learn.
Past students enrolled in the course also agree!
To help his mother-in-law at the winery, Michael became the Operations Manager at Laurel Mountain Winery (Pennsylvania). He has echoed that the certificate program has helped him adapt to the constant technology and product changes associated with wine production. Michael says, “It has given me the confidence I needed in making decisions when it comes to finishing wine, and gave me tools to know where to look for answers.”
After making kit wine at home for eight years, Christina and Shane from Wisconsin felt positive about the course work: “We now not only understand how to make quality wine but it gave us the ability to better enjoy wine from around the world and ask better questions at wineries.”
The instructor for the Penn State Winemaking Certificate program is Bob Green, a fellow enology consultant, and also the executive wine maker at Presque Isle Wine Cellars (Pennsylvania) and faculty member at Mercyhurst University. I’ve had the pleasure of working with Bob for years, and am impressed with his ability to get wineries off on the right foot as they go into the business.
Enrolling in the Penn State Winemaking Certificate Program
If you’re interested in the certificate program, you can find more information, including registration and pricing, by visiting the certificate webpage.
If you have any further questions about the program, please contact Elaine Berish at Penn State Berks at 610-396-6230 or [email protected].