Applications are being accepted through June 30 for the next cycle of the professional certificate program in viticulture, according to program coordinators. Candidates for certification must complete six courses, consisting of online and practical course modules, over a two-year period, said Dr. Ed Hellman, Texas AgriLife Extension Service viticulture specialist in Lubbock and certification program director.

Participants who successfully complete all course work receive their professional certification in viticulture. “The rigor and quality of the program is designed for individuals with an orientation toward commercial grape production and professional work in the viticulture industry,” Hellman said. “Course materials are approximately the equivalent of a junior-level academic course in college.”

The certificate program is a collaboration between the department of plant and soil sciences at Texas Tech University, AgriLife Extension and the College of Outreach and Distance Education at Texas Tech University.

“The program operates on a cohort basis in which participants work together to enhance the learning experience and facilitate networking opportunities for participants,” Hellman said. “For this reason, the program is limited to 40 participants who are willing to make the commitment to move through all courses over the two-year period.”

Enrollment in individual courses is not available, he added.

Online course modules include grapevine biology, site assessment and vineyard development, vine nutrition and water management, canopy and crop-load management, and disease, insect and weed management. A practical module in vineyard practices provides hands-on and on-site instruction, addressing all major vineyard activities.

Applicants are asked to attend a session of the Prospective Wine-grape Grower Workshop offered by AgriLife Extension as a prerequisite for certification program participation, but other academic viticulture course work can sometimes be substituted. They are also required to complete a brief distance learning self-assessment.

“Participants must apply for admission to the program and meet certain prerequisites, including approval from the instructor,” Hellman said. The total program cost is $2,400, and payment can be made by check, Visa, MasterCard, Discover or American Express. Payment need not be included with the completed application. The application period for the program beginning mid-September ends June 30. Notification of acceptance will be in mid-July/ Program registration will be July 15-Aug. 31.

“Although the courses for certification don’t carry academic credit, the course work can be rigorous and demanding in terms of time and content,” Hellman said. “When the work is completed, participants will receive 17 continuing education units for a total of 170 clock-hours of instruction, as well as their certificate in viticulture.”

More information on curriculum and details on course descriptions, application, cancellation and refunds, recommended textbooks and computer requirements for necessary distance learning can be found at http://www.depts.ttu.edu/ode/outreach/conferences/viticulturecertificate.php.

For more information on the application process, please contact the Texas Tech College of Outreach and Distance Education at 806-742-7202, ext. 284.

An application can be found online at http://www.depts.ttu.edu/ode/outreach/conferences/E%20Application%20Viticulture%20Certificate.pdf.