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New Zealand Certificate in Cellar Operations (Level 3)


Central Otago with work experience and field trips

17 weeks full-time (17 January - 26 May 2022)
January 2022

Want to work as a cellar operator in commercial wine cellar operations? 

With work experience and field trips, what better place to learn about wine than in the heart of one of the most-renowned wine making regions of New Zealand?     

During this programme you’ll learn all about:

  • the wine industry, wine making processes, and plant and equipment that you’d use as a cellar operator
  • legislation, regulatory, food safety and workplace and personal health and safety requirements
  • how to work effectively in a team when transferring wine to meet production requirements
  • how to complete routine cellar operation tasks. 

Plus, Otago Polytechnic holds an accredited membership status for Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand. All our lecturers within this programme are recognised as sustainable practitioners, incorporating best practice in their teaching at all times, and your work placements will take place in a variety of sustainably-accredited wineries.

This is an entry-level programme designed for people already working in a winery at an entry level, or for those who want to enter the wine industry.  

Please email if you have any questions!

What will I learn? 

This programme has four compulsory courses. You'll need to finish all of these to complete the programme. 

Course name Course overview What will I learn?

Wine and Wine Industry

(10 credits) 

Introduction to the NZ Wine Industry
and the principles of working 
effectively in a cellar team.  


  • NZ wine varieties and styles 
  • NZ wine regions 
  • Basic sensory evaluation of wine 
  • Communication and teamwork skills 
  • Health and Safety 

Wine Processing 

(20 credits)


Outline red and white winemaking processes and the safe use of the equipment required.  


  • Introduction to winemaking processes (red and white including yeast and malolactic fermentation)
  • Grape chemical makeup (sugars etc.) and appropriate analysis 
  • Winemaking flow into the winery 
  • Cellar hygiene and chemical safety 
  • Additions including yeast rehydration  
  • Awareness of basic wine/juice analysis 
  • Health and Safety protocols 

Cellar Operations 

(20 credits)

Completion of a range of cellar operations applying correct protocols and safety measures. 


  • Knowledge and application of practical tasks in the winery 
  • Sign off of 'standard' achievement levels in these tasks 
  • Pumps (choice, priming etc.), racking, making additions, venturi, washing, mixing etc.)
  • Intro tasks/workshop
  • Health and safety protocols

Wine Management Post-Fermentation 

(10 credits)

Introduce the stages of finishing a wine following correct protocols and safety procedures.


  • An overview of process used to 'finish' wines (e.g. stabilisation, fining, filtration, blending, maturation, barrels, packaging, bottling)
  • Fieldtrips associated with each stage 
  • Health and Safety protocols 
Sustainable Development 

Otago Polytechnic holds an accredited membership status for Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand which is recognised as one of the wine industry's leading sustainability accreditation programmes worldwide.

Lecturers within this programme are recognised as sustainable practitioners, incorporating best practice in their teaching at all times. 

Your work placements will occur in a variety of sustainably-accredited wineries. And you'll be taught to assess and control the risks of environmental impacts, and health and safety hazards throughout all the courses above. 

How will I learn? 
Off-site and workplace learning

You'll be based at the Central Otago Campus and will complete off-site and workplace learning as part of your programme. 

Off-site and workplace learning are a great way of gaining the practical skills you need within a real-world setting. This is also a good way for you to learn about the professional requirements of this industry.

During the Cellar Operations course, you'll undertake 180 hours of practical work within a commercial vintage. All workplace activity is supervised by experienced workers. 

Work experience 

Our staff support you to find potential work placements in the local area. They'll also help you organise the placement. 

Before your work placement begins, a written agreement will be signed by you, an Otago Polytechnic staff member and your employer outlining expectations, and roles and responsibilities. Just so everyone is on the same page. 

You'll complete 295 hours of work experience during the programme. During this time, our staff will be in touch with you to make sure you're going ok. 

Field trips 

You'll also take part in field trips to local wineries. Our staff will accompany you on these trips. 

What are the entry requirements? 
Academic requirements 
  • For those under 20: NCEA Level 1.
  • For those 20 and above: No minimum academic requirements. 
English Language requirements 

If you need to improve your English Language skills, we offer a wide range of English programmes.

Other requirements 
  • You'll need to complete a questionnaire about your background, and your reasons for wanting to undertake the programme. Please upload this with your application.

Download questionnaire here > 

  • You may be subject to drug and alcohol testing while on your work placement. 
  • This programme has elements that require a certain level of physical strength and fitness. You'll need to be physically capable of completing all aspects of the programme. 
  • Learners who will be under 18 during activities that require the tasting of alcohol will not be allowed to participate in this activity without first giving us a signed guardian consent form.  
Student loans/allowances with TTAF 

Whilst this programme is free for you to study via the Trades and Apprenticeship Fund (TTAF), this fund only covers tuition fees and compulsory costs such as student levies. It does not cover any additional costs or living costs. You can pay for additional and living costs by yourself if that is possible for you or by applying for a loan or allowance through Studylink.      

It is important to apply for your student loan/allowance at the same time as you apply for this programme, due to the length of time Studylink take to process. Loan/allowance applications can be cancelled at any time if you decide to withdraw your programme application or if it is unsuccessful. 

  • For information about student loans and allowances please visit the Studylink website 

Please note: Student Loans and Allowances and TTAF are available for domestic students only. 



While every effort is made to ensure that this sheet is accurate, Otago Polytechnic reserves the right to amend, alter or withdraw any of the contained information. The fees shown in this document are indicative ONLY. Both domestic and international fees are subject to change and are dependent on the development and implementation of Government policies. Please note that additional fees may from time to time be required for external examination, NZQA fees and/or additional material fees.

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