February 8, 2021

Affordable online course from Purdue is a compact but comprehensive package of essential knowledge for winemakers

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Professional winemakers and wine industry employees wanting to enhance their knowledge, skills, business and careers, and serious noncommercial winemakers looking to take their pastime to the professional startup level, can get the technical knowledge they need from Purdue University.

Purdue’s online Winemaking Certificate course is an affordable, compact, yet comprehensive review of commercial winemaking principles and practices. It includes six progressive modules covering ground from grape to glass. Topics covered range from a critical review of winemaking techniques, styles and traditions to advice on aging, stabilization, filtration, bottling, and shelf-life optimization. Portions of the curriculum focus specifically on winemaking in Indiana and the Midwestern and eastern United States, but much of it is applicable to wineries anywhere in the world.

The online course is valuable for people in the wine business, whether entry-level winery workers or seasoned winemakers. It teaches individuals who already make wine how to make better wine and how to improve their winery's bottom line. Participants should have prior or concurrent winemaking experience, and it may help to have taken an introductory wine course, such as Purdue's Wine Appreciation course series.

“The class accommodates different skill and experience levels, and all participants will gain new knowledge and refresh their existing knowledge, even if they have taken other winemaking classes already,” said Christian Butzke, Purdue’s wine professor, who developed and teaches the Winemaking Certificate course.

Butzke, professor of enology (the science of wine and winemaking), is a past president of the American Society of Enology and Viticulture and an award-winning commercial winemaker and wine competition judge. He’s the editor of the technical book “Winemaking Problems Solved” for commercial winemakers and author of the popular textbook “Wine Appreciation.”

Butzke has been teaching winemaking for nearly 30 years and was set to be a visiting professor in Italy in 2020 before the viral pandemic made traveling abroad impossible. He ended up packaging his Italian presentations for online consumption, and that led to the idea of developing the new online Winemaking Certificate course.

“Everything I know about winemaking is in this course,” Butzke said “It really brings it all together in a comprehensive package.”

Each module includes multiple video lectures and supplemental materials, as well as interaction with the instructor and other students. A comprehensive 100-question exam tests students’ knowledge at the end with an eye to applying what they learned in their own winemaking endeavors. Butzke is available to consult on technical questions, even after participants complete the course.

“If they have a problem, a suggestion or idea that they want to share with other participating winemakers, they can openly or confidentially discuss it in my class,” Butzke said.

Someone can finish all the modules in six weeks, but students have a year to work through the self-paced course and earn the Purdue Winemaking Certificate. The cost is $999 for Indiana residents, $1,250 for out of state participants.

The modules include:

  • Winemaking Principles, recapping techniques, styles and traditions to ground students in the fundamentals of how wine is created commercially and the challenges involved.
  • Winemaking Issues, covering best practices from designing a winery to running a successful wine business.
  • Wine Stability, highlighting ways to adjust and assure the desired composition and quality of a finished wine, including major stabilization and fining techniques for a low-input approach to winemaking.
  • Filtration, Bottling and Closures, presenting methods for assuring that a well-crafted wine's quality is maintained throughout the final steps of processing, and beyond, allowing the winemaker to sleep well at night.
  • Wine Quality, Aging and Shelf Life, looking at aspects of a fine wine's success in the marketplace and the global wine industry supply chain that allows winemakers to optimize their wines' healthfulness, complexity, aging potential and value.
  • Regional Typicity, Terroir and Climate Change, contemplating the future of winegrowing and winemaking and preparing winemakers for adjustments in the wake of global warming and changing consumer preferences.

For more information about Purdue’s online Winemaking Certificate see the course webpage.

Writer: Greg Kline, 765-426-8545, gkline@purdue.edu

Source: Christian Butzke, 765-494-6500, butzke@purdue.edu

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