Texas Tech University

Texas Tech Viticulture Certificate Program

Application Deadline: September 1, 2023

The Texas Tech Viticulture Certificate Program is designed for wine industry entrepreneurs and prospective vineyard managers seeking comprehensive knowledge of viticultural principles and commercial grape production practices. The program is produced by the Department of Plant & Soil Sciences at Texas Tech University and is headquartered at the Hill Country University Center in Fredericksburg, Texas. It is conveniently delivered through a combination of online courses and hands-on training in our own teaching vineyard.

The viticulture program consists of six courses, held over a two-year period. Successful completion of all six courses is required to receive the Professional Certificate in Viticulture. The certificate program operates on a cohort basis to enhance the learning experience and facilitate networking opportunities for participants. 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.

 planting vinyard

A few examples of what our graduates are doing today:

Mike Batek, Owner: Hye Meadow Winery, Hye, TX
Michael Bilger, Co-Owner, Bilger Family Vineyards, Stonewall, TX  
Tameisha Bolen, Owner: Bolen Vineyards, Smyer, TX
John Catalano, Owner: Bent Oak Winery, Cedar Park, TX
Bill Day, Owner: Bueno Suerte Vineyard, Meadow, TX
Karen DeBerry, Owner: Torr Na Lochs Vineyard and Winery, Burnet, TX
Michael Dickey, Owner: Veraison Hills Vineyard, Pontotoc, TX
Adrienne Freeman, Vineyard Manager, Goldthwaite, TX
Paul Fovel, Owner: Fovel Family Vineyard, Fredericksburg, TX
Joshua Fritsche,  Wine Maker, Tatum Cellars, Stonewall, TX   
Patrick Gibson, Owner: Grohmann Farms Vineyard, Weimar, TX
Betsy Jeter, Owner: Threshold Vineyards, Navasota, TX
Susan Johnson, Owner: Texas Heritage Vineyard, Fredericksburg, TX
Garrett Kellermeier, Owner: Lilli of the Vine Vineyards, Lamesa, TX
Chris Lloyd, Owner: True Vine Vineyard and Farm, Tyler, TX
Diane Maycotte, Winemaker: Dos Buhos Winery/Rancho Santa Gloria, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
Lynne Majek, Owner: Majek Vineyard and Winery, Moravia, TX
Ranae Mills, Owner: Rustic Spur Vineyards, Stonewall, TX
Clint Messimer, Vineyard Manager: Grape Creek Vineyards, Fredericksburg, TX
Galin Morgan, Owner: Saddlehorn Winery, Burton, TX
Nikhila Narra, Owner: Narra Family Vineyards, Brownfield, TX
Brent Pape, Co-Winemaker and Viticulturist: Perissos Vineyards, Burnet, TX
Madonna Philipps, Owner: Phillips Vineyards, Brownfield, tX
John Rivenburgh, Owner: Rivenburgh Wines, Fredericksburg, TX
Todd Webster, Winemaker: Brennan Vineyards, Comanche, TX
Virginia Lopez Rodriguez, Owner: Mil Veranos Vineyard, D'Hanis, TX

Viticulture Certificate Student Facebook Page


Curriculum/Course Descriptions

Online Modules

  1. Grapevine Biology
    Introduction to the taxonomic classification of grape species and the structure and function of grapevines. Botanical and viticultural terminology used to describe the anatomy of a grapevine will be introduced. The major physiological processes of grapevines will be introduced: photosynthesis, respiration, transpiration, and translocation. Other physiological processes will be introduced including acclimation and de-acclimation, cold hardiness, water relations, and hormones. The influence of environmental factors on physiological processes will be examined.
  2. Site Assessment and Vineyard Development
    The major considerations for assessment of a potential vineyard site will be addressed including macroclimate, mesoclimate, soil characteristics, topography, irrigation water availability and quality, disease and pest pressure, size of property, location, and economics. The fundamentals of vineyard development - design and construction - will be introduced. Vineyard design factors addressed include matching varieties and rootstocks to the site, trellis system, vine and row spacing, row orientation and length, block layout, and irrigation system design. Practices involved with construction of a vineyard are introduced including trellis construction, planting vines, and vine training.
  3. Vine Nutrition and Water Management
    Introduction to the concepts and practices of mineral nutrient management of grapevines. The nutrient requirements of grapevines will be reviewed and soil nutrient content and availability will be addressed. Methods for monitoring vine nutrition will be introduced including soil testing and tissue analysis. Fertilizers and fertilization practices will be introduced. Introduction to the water requirements of grapevines and management of water availability. Irrigation practices will be reviewed including irrigation scheduling using soil moisture monitoring and evapotranspiration, and the use of deficit irrigation strategies.
  4. Canopy Management and Crop Load Management
    Review of the characteristics of a desirable grapevine canopy and effects of excessive or deficient canopy on vine health and fruit quality and yield. The concept of a balanced grapevine will be introduced and the consequences of imbalance addressed. Assessment of canopy vigor will be discussed and methods of canopy management reviewed including shoot thinning, shoot positioning, leaf pulling, and hedging. Methods for estimating crop load will be reviewed and thinning techniques for adjusting yield will be discussed.
  5. Disease, Insect, and Weed Management
    Introduction to the management of diseases and insects with emphasis on common problems in Texas. The major grape diseases in Texas will be reviewed including pathogen lifecycles, damage caused, vine symptoms, associated risk factors, and control options. Disease management practices will be introduced including sanitation, cultural practices, and pesticide use. Introduction to the management of insects, mites, and other arthropod pests of grapes. The concept of integrated pest management (IPM) will be introduced and IPM methods and tools will be reviewed. The major grape pests in Texas will be reviewed including lifecycles, damage caused, vine symptoms, associated risk factors, and control options. Weed control principles and practices will be introduced.

Practical Module

  1. Vineyard Practices
    A hands-on experiential learning class that provides instructor-led activities in standard vineyard practices. A series of four one-day sessions comprise the Vineyard Practices course; sessions are held during key times of the season to encompass all major activities in the vineyard. Session learning activites include: pruning, trellis maintenance and repair, plant material assessment and handling, vine planting, canopy management, vine nutrition, irrigation scheduling, disease and pest management, crop estimation, thinning, fruit maturity analysis, and harvest practices and logistics. Class activities are conducted in the TTU Teaching Vineyard at the Hill Country University Center in Fredericksburg, Texas. Students must attend all of the seasonal sessions.

Non-degree credit

Although these classes do not carry academic credit, the coursework can be rigorous and demanding in terms of time and content. When successfully completed, these courses lead to a Certificate in Viticulture and students will receive 17 continuing education units for a total of 170 clock hours of instruction.

Download Viticulture Certificate Program Brochure


Dr. Edward Hellman, Director


Kirk Williams, Texas Tech University


  1. Viticulture Certificate Prerequisite Presentation
  2. Distance Learning Self-Assessment

Applicants should view the Viticulture Certificate Prerequisite Presentation. Other academic viticulture coursework or attendance at viticulture conferences may be considered to fulfill the prerequisite at the discretion of the Program Director. Applicants should list all such coursework on the application.

The Distance Learning Self-Assessment is a short online questionnaire to help students determine their suitability for distance learning.

Distance Learning Self-Assessment


Participants must apply for admission into the program and meet certain prerequisites, including approval from the instructor. Enrollment is limited to 40 cohort members.

Download & Submit Application


Application Period     June 1 through July 31
Notification of Acceptance Begins     July 1
Registration Period     July 15 through August 31
Program Begins     September 15 (Approximate date)


The cost of this two-year program is $3,400, which consists of one registration fee and five course fees paid as students progress in the program. Payment may be made by Visa, MasterCard, Discover or American Express. You need not include any payment with your application form.

Required Textbook

Grape Grower's Handbook, Author: Ted Goldammer, ISBN-13: 978-0-9675212-7-5, Publisher: Apex Publishers

Computer Requirements

The online portion of the program will be delivered via the Blackboard course management system. Since most of the lectures are narrated and delivered via streaming audio, a high-speed Internet connection is highly recommended. A reliable e-mail address and word processing software will also be needed. Applicants accepted into the program will be provided with web access to coursework following completion of registration.