Wine makers, or oenologists, are responsible for the whole wine making process, from crushing the grapes, fermentation of the must, refining and stabilising the wine to bottling and marketing.

Winemakers direct and coordinate all the activities of wine production in wineries. Winemakers contract with growers to provide grapes for processing or, if the winery is attached to a vineyard, they work closely with viticulturists, who cultivate the grapes, to determine when the grapes are ready for processing into wine.

After harvesting and delivery at the winery, the grapes are weighed and certain quality control analyses such as the sugar and acid content are performed. The grapes are then crushed, processed and fermented to produce wine. Winemakers regularly monitor the development of the wines and perform further treatments such as maturation and clarification, to ensure that the wine develops properly and will not become spoiled. During the winemaking process wine makers use a variety of cellar machinery and equipment to perform the necessary tasks. They also use laboratory equipment such as hydrometers and pipettes to perform quality control analyses. They are also responsible for finishing the wine, which includes cooling, filtering and bottling.

Winemakers blend wines according to formulas or their knowledge and experience in winemaking. Although modern winemaking is based on scientifically founded technological processes, the sensory analysis or tasting of wine remains an essential tool in the selection of wines for specific blends. Only regular tasting of a wide variety of wines develops this ability and provides the necessary experience to use such wines in the creation of blends, which will be acceptable to the consumer. This ability can be regarded as an art. Thus, wine making is both a science and an art.

Winemakers also introduce wines to potential consumers by regularly presenting wine tasting events locally and abroad. Consumers often like to meet the winemakers in person. The winemaker often has to work irregular hours.

Personal Requirements

  • excellent sense of smell and taste
  • knowledge of chemistry and microbiology
  • willing to work long hours
  • ability to analyse and solve problems
  • ability to make accurate observations
  • good communication and interpersonal skills

How to Enter

Schooling & School Subjects

  • National Senior Certificate meeting degree requirements for a degree course
  • National Senior Certificate for agricultural college course
Each institution has its own entry requirements.

What to Study

Degree: BSc Agriculture: Viticulture and Oenology - US - the recommended qualification for prospective viticulturists. All students are required to work on wine farms for at least one season.

Agricultural Colleges: Diploma in Viticulture

The Agricultural College at Elsenburg in Stellenbosch offers a diploma course in Viticulture and Oenology. All training is done in a well-equipped, modern wine-cellar at the college.


  • estate wineries
  • co-operative wineries
  • wholesale wineries
  • Department of Agriculture
  • self-employment, as an independent wine making consultant, or start own winery

Further Information

Wines of South Africa
P O Box 987
Stellenbosch, 7599
Tel: (021) 883-3860 Fax: (021) 883-3861

Department of Oenology
University of Stellenbosch
Stellenbosch, 7600

Getting Started

  • try to obtain vacation work in a winery or vineyard, picking grapes for example
  • try making your own wines and read up about different wine making methods
  • arrange to visit different wineries and speak to wine makers about this type of career

Programmes by Study Institutions