Why is Italy the ideal study destination for a career in wine production? | Top Universities

Why is Italy the ideal study destination for a career in wine production?

By Chloe Lane

Updated June 28, 2022 Updated June 28, 2022

Sponsored by Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore 

Italy is the world’s top wine producer, exporting over 50 percent of its wine production. Italy has more than 450 cultivars and grapes growing in every region with a multitude of terroirs and wine styles.  

If you are interested in working in the wine industry, Italy is the perfect study destination to fully immerse yourself in the subject. 

Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore offers two viticulture postgraduate programmes: Sustainable Viticulture and Enology, and Viticulture and Enology. 

TopUniversities spoke to the professor of viticulture and enology at Università Cattolica, Stefano Poni, about what makes Italy the perfect location to prepare for a career in wine production.  

Why should you study viticulture in Italy?  

Italy has been producing wine for more than 4,000 years. Its climate makes it the perfect environment for viticulture, resulting in wine that-is renowned around the world for its exceptional quality. 

Professor Poni said: “In Italy we have a variability richness and wealth of cultivars, environments, soils that nobody has around the world. This is not just my opinion: this is reality.” 

Università Cattolica’s two viticulture-focused programmes are both taught at the Piacenza campus in northern Italy. Known as the ‘food valley’, Piacenza produces the biggest amount of D.O.P. (Protected Designation of Origin) and D.O.C. (Designation of Controlled Origin) cured meats, cheeses and wines in Italy. Located just an hour away from Milan, it’s also where approximately 53,000 agricultural businesses are based. 

The campus itself boasts a variety of dedicated facilities: a small yet precious experimental vineyard, a brand-new winery where students can have a practical approach making their own wine, and a new sensory lab for studying the pairing of wine with food. 

What can you expect from a viticulture and enology degree in Italy?  

Università Cattolica offers two postgraduate viticulture and enology programmes: one two-year Master of Science for more experienced individuals, and a one-year specialised master’s for those with less experience.  

Both programmes are taught entirely in English and boast small classes of fewer than 20 students, providing an intimate, personalised approach to learning.  

Combining theory with practical learning, students can expect three quarters of their time to be taken up with classroom learning, with their remaining study hours spent taking trips to vineyards and wineries or completing work experience.  

“At Università Cattolica we can provide high-level courses in viticulture because we conduct a lot of research. The best teaching comes from good research and the learning are transferred in our lecturers into the classroom,” said Prof Stefano. 

Sustainable Viticulture and Enology 

The two-year Master of Science in Sustainable Viticulture and Enology gives students a background in the new technologies and practices that are emerging to increase sustainability in viticulture and enology. 

The curriculum covers biotechnologies, precision approaches, adaptation to climate change, biodiversity, care for vineyard soil health, and conservation. Learning how to interact with international stakeholders is a key aspect of the course, making it particularly relevant for international students looking to work in the food and wine industry. 

The degree is aimed at students who have a background in wine and are looking to work in one of the many roles involved in wine production and sales. This may include grape production, vinification, bottling, storage, marketing or logistics. 

Career paths 

Typical roles for Sustainable Viticulture and Enology graduates working in wine production include: 

  • Vineyard manager and/or specialist 
  • Winemaker 
  • Viticulture and enology consultant   

Project-based thesis 

Students on this programme will complete a mandatory experimental thesis. They will join one of the research groups in the faculty and will be assigned to a project. This allows them to tailor the degree to their interests and career goals.  

Students can take advantage of Università Cattolica’s links with cooperatives, single estates, wineries and wine companies to gain access to extra-curriculum internships and graduate jobs.  

There is also a new opportunity for students on this programme to do a semester exchange with the University of Adelaide in Australia, gaining practical experience in a different part of the world.  

Viticulture and Enology 

On the year-long specialised master’s in Viticulture and Enology, students will gain an understanding of how to introduce vineyard and winery innovation, including new sustainable approaches for pest and disease control, management techniques to minimise climate impact and producing solutions to sustainability-related problems. 

“I would say the Viticulture and Enology programme is attractive to everyone who has a passion for wine,” said Prof Poni. 

He adds that the majority of the students on this programme do not have a background in viticulture, as long as they have a strong interest in wine. A pre-course at the start of the year will give students the background knowledge needed to be successful in the programme.   

Typical career paths with a master’s in viticulture and enology: 

The specialised master’s in Viticulture and Enology will present professional opportunities in the fields of viticulture and enology chain; wine marketing and distribution; restaurants, and large-scale retail trade. 

Typical roles for Viticulture and Enology graduates working in wine production include: 

  • Viticulture educatory 
  • Vineyard technician 
  • Head of vineyard management 
  • Enologist 

The sensory analysis laboratory at Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore allows students to explore the main sensory evaluation techniques applied to different food products, including coffee, wine, oil and chocolate. The idea is to taste food, not only with the tastebuds but to involve all the senses, from sight to smell, from hearing to touch. 

Opportunity to gain professional experience 

Students undertaking the specialised master’s in viticulture and enology will have the chance to complete a three-month internship in a vineyard or a winery. This gives students direct experience of grapevine cultivation, grape production, harvest, wine-making and wine stabilisation. 

Students will take part in the entire operation of wine production, working manually but also playing a part in the decision-making process.  

These wine internships take place across Italy alongside some of the most prestigious companies in the industry. 

Prof Poni said: “Students spend the first part of the internship vineyard, then move to the winery. It is a very rewarding experience."  

“Students are on the whole are very happy with their internships. Sometimes these companies will hire the student at the end of the internships. That has happened quite a few times.” 

This article was originally published in June 2022 .

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Written by

As Content Editor for TopUniversities.com and TopMBA.com, Chloe creates and publishes a wide range of articles for universities and business schools across the world. Chloe has a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of Reading and grew up in Leicestershire, UK. 

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