How to become an enologist: knowledge and skills

The enologist is a professional figure involved in the production of wine. The profession of enologist is regulated by law n° 129/1991. Today more and more people are approaching this profession and studying how to become an enologist, turning a passion into a real and proper profession. Until the beginning of the ’90s, it was possible to become an enologist simply by doing a three years practice in an enopolium, or in a winery. In 1994, however, after the congress of the International Organization of Vine and Wine, a precise definition of this profession was given.

Oenologists are therefore defined as: “highly qualified people who, according to their scientific and technical knowledge, are capable of carrying out, according to good and legal practices, functions of paramount importance for the wine sector”. From this it is clear the importance of this figure in the production process of any wine. Even for Amarone della Valpolicella, as well as for Recioto, the enologist is important in every phase of wine production, from vineyard to bottling bukk wine.

Follow the phases of wine production

As we said an enologist is a very important figure in the wine production process. Mainly he or she is in charge of the complicated management of enological complexes. Also important is the role he or she plays in regard to the wholesomeness and genuineness of wine, from which, as a consequence, also derives a certain responsibility towards consumers. As he or she is in charge of some specific enological practices, his or her responsibility in civil, penal and managerial matters of the wine sector is not indifferent.

The enologist can be a freelancer, or work as an employee directly for a winery. His tasks are many:

  • choose the quality of vines
  • managing and controlling the cultivation of selected grapes
  • deciding the best time for the harvest (grape picking)
  • supervise and monitor the various phases of wine fermentation
  • sampling and analyzing the wine in order to identify its various chemical, biological and organoleptic properties
  • decide the timing for bottling the wine

How to become an enologist

How to become an enologist: degree in enology and specializations

Today learning how to become an enologist is now accessible to anyone, because there are many courses in many universities which, after a three years study, give the qualification of enologist.

The requirements for an enologist in order to do his or her job are:

  • to know the different qualities of grapes
  • have a certain knowledge about hygienic-sanitary norms to be followed and to be respected during the whole production process of wine
  • know the cultivation techniques of vine
  • know every single phase of wine production
  • to know how to evaluate and recognize all the organoleptic characteristics of the many wines (you must know how to distinguish, for example, which are the characteristics of a red wine such as Corvina Veronese and which are the characteristics of a rose wine such as Molinara rosé).

In order to have all this knowledge it is possible to enroll and attend one of the many three-year degree courses in Viticulture and Enology, or in Viticultural and Enological Sciences and Technologies which are held in many Italian universities.

The alternatives

The law n° 129/1991 which regulates this profession, provides for the recognition of the same title, also to all those who

  • have attended an agricultural technical institute with specialization in Viticulture and Oenology. The course requires an attendance of at least 6 years. Following this they must also have obtained a diploma of a two-year course from a school specialized in enology techniques established by a state university
  • have obtained a diploma from an agricultural technical institute with a specialization in Viticulture and Oenology or a degree in Agricultural, Biological, Chemical Sciences or in Sciences of Food Preparation, and have worked continuously for at least three years in the wine sector
  • finally, also those who have a high school diploma from a technical institute having an agricultural or chemical focus and have also worked continuously for at least eight years in the enology field

Il lavoro di enologo

Who is able to become “enologist” will have many job opportunities and employment possibilities. In fact, an enologist can work in many different structures:

  • wineries – where it is necessary to supervise the whole production process of wine, from the cultivation of vineyards to the commercialization of the finished product
  • wineries – agricultural cooperatives which make wine from the grapes of their members, guaranteeing the quality of the finished product
  • bottling companies – where the raw product is reworked and follows the processes where the wine is the protagonist of many processes, up to bottling and sale
  • consulting companies – they can also offer consulting services to companies, about the various production processes.