Otago Polytechnic

Diploma in Viticulture (Level 5)


Central Otago

One year full-time; three years part-time while employed in the viticulture industry

Domestic: Online with block courses in Central Otago or full-time on campus. International: On campus. Both domestic and international students will be required to undertake extensive work experience.

February and July, 2018
Apply by
  • Location
    Study breaks
  • Central Otago
    12 February 2018
    30 June 2018 - 22 July 2018
    14 April 2018 - 29 April 2018
    29 September 2018 - 14 October 2018
  • Central Otago
    23 July 2018
    26 November 2018 - 15 February 2019
    1 October 2018 - 12 October 2018
    15 April 2019 - 26 April 2019

This qualification includes the option of incorporating the National Certificate in Horticulture (Level 4) into a two year, full-time programme pathway.

Do you want to extend your practical ability and develop viticultural management skills in the winegrowing industry?

Then this Diploma is the perfect solution as it is offered from our Central Otago campus which sits in the fourth largest grape growing region in New Zealand. The focus of this programme is the cool climate production of quality wine grapes, and using sustainable wine growing and organic wine growing principles.

Sound technical and management skills are essential in the wine growing industry and gaining this qualification will open doors within the industry, both nationally and internationally. Benefit from the expertise of highly experienced lecturers and the mix of online resources and assessments, classroom teaching and fieldtrips. For those studying part-time, one to two block courses are held in Central Otago in the winter months.

For those studying online (domestic students only), learning support is available from our Dunedin and Central Otago campuses.

The two year programme pathway offers a longer term study option by giving you the chance to complete the National Certificate in Horticulture (Level 4) during your first year of study and then the Diploma in Viticulture (Level 5) in your second year. The National Certificate in Horticulture (Level 4) is an industry-standard qualification covering the fundamental skills and knowledge required of horticulturists in orchards, vineyards, nurseries or any other major commercial operation.

All certificate and diploma qualifications are currently being reviewed by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA). Qualification titles and content may be altered as a result of the review but any changes will be introduced and communicated over a transitional period so that there is minimal impact on students. 

Two year programme pathway details

Domestic and international: Two years full-time incorporating the National Certificate in Horticulture (Level 4)


Domestic: On campus or online with block courses in Central Otago (learning support is available from our Dunedin and Central Otago campuses).

International: On campus.


4 and 5


National Certificate = 140

Diploma = 120

Skills required
  • An enjoyment of working outdoors
  • Physical fitness
  • Planning and organisational skills
  • Good communication skills
  • An eye for detail.
Entry requirements
  • If you wish to enrol in this programme, you must hold the National Certificate in Horticulture (Level 4) OR equivalent qualification/experience. If not, you must complete the two year programme which has open entry.
  • You must complete the practical components of this programme in an industry workplace.
  • You must have access to the internet.

To enter at National Certificate level:

  • If English is not your first language, you must demonstrate English language skills equivalent to an IELTS overall band score (academic) of 5.5, with no band score less than 5.0.

To enter at Diploma level:

  • If English is not your first language, you must demonstrate English language skills equivalent to an IELTS overall band score (academic) of 6.0 (writing and speaking score no less than 6.0 and reading and listening bands no less than 5.5).

International students are subject to specific immigration regulations.

Additional documentation

You must supply certified copies of proof of identify, academic records, proof of residency (where appropriate) and a curriculum vitae.

Selection procedure

Professional judgement of academic staff will be used to determine those applicants who meet the entry criteria. All applicants who meet the entry criteria will be accepted for the programme.

Additional costs

Some texts are recommended and these will cost approximately $150. It is recommended that you have a laptop computer to access study material.

Further study options

Expand your knowledge and increase your career options with Level 6 or degree-level study in viticulture or oenology (the science of winemaking).

Programme specific risks

All prospective students are advised of the physical risks and requirements of the programme.

You will study

Site Evaluation

Assess a property for defined horticultural use, collate findings and identify viability of the proposed use. This includes considerations of site characteristics, appropriate layout options, current conditions and previous use, development potential and the identification of restraints on future use of the property.

Weather and Climate Management

Discover how to forecast weather conditions and assess the effect weather and climate may have on crops. This includes climate interpretation of weather maps and forecasting, frost effects on crop production and methods used to minimise frost damage.

Soil and Fertility Management

Learn about soil formation and classification, the impact of soil types on water availability to plants, soil fertility and pH and how these can be managed to improve crop production, organisms that exist in the soil and crop fertilisation.

Plant Biology

Find out how to define grapevine structure, about functions and processes, how to explain the internal and environmental factors which influence these processes and apply this knowledge to the production of wine grapes.

Pest, Disease and Disorder Management

Discover how to identify and develop plans to manage the main pests, diseases and disorders of horticultural crops and grapes and carry out spray operations to manage them.

Weed Management

Learn to identify weeds and their reproductive methods, understand weed control methods and to develop cost effective weed management programmes.

Supervisory Skills

Gain an understanding of workplace legislation and appropriate practices, how to deal with customer complaints, manage workplace relationships and train staff on the job (block course).

Irrigation Management

Learn to identify irrigation requirements, design and install a range of irrigation systems, determine irrigation scheduling and monitor soil water content.

Sustainable Winegrowing and Organic Certification

Gain the knowledge required by Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand (SWNZ) and organic certifying bodies for accredited sustainable winegrowing and ‘organic’ status respectively.

Viticulture Organisations and Geography

Develop an understanding of the Viticulture industry, locally and internationally, the current legislation and issues affecting the industry and marketing/sales processes.

Vine Canopy Management

Learn to manage fruit quality through effective canopy management including canopy balance, trellising systems, cropping levels and vine training.

Wine Appreciation

Learn to evaluate wine professionally including common faults, consumer trends and understanding the differences between warm and cold climate wines (block course).

Vineyard Production Planning

Discover how to plan seasonal production and activity schedules, determine labour and other resource needs and identify methods and risks of altering key production/activity plans.

Overseas Study Review

Take the opportunity to study viticulture skills and knowledge gained from an overseas experience and incorporate these into the New Zealand context.

If you choose to study online (domestic students ONLY), we will support your learning by providing:
- Programme planning support from our programme coordinator
- Regular coordinator support through email, phone and workplace visits
- Comprehensive resource packs
- Tutorials
- Block courses for some modules (one/two per year)
- Library resources.

Two year programme pathway content

Your pathway towards achieving the Diploma in Viticulture (Level 5) will include completing the National Certificate in Horticulture (Level 4) during your first year.

The National Certificate in Horticulture (Level 4) is a 50-50 mix of theoretical and practical studies and you will make use of the campus nursery, hydroponics unit and our ten-hectare crop production facility where winegrapes, stonefruit, pipfruit, olives, flowers and berries are grown. The viticulture, landscaping and fruit production options of this qualification offer you the opportunity to 'earn as you learn' through paid work experience within Central Otago's extensive horticulture industry. This will enable you to develop real-world skills and to forge important relationships.

Your first year is then followed by a combination of work experience and study to successfully complete the Diploma in your second year.

Two year pathway will include:

Year 1

National Certificate in Horticulture (Level 4)

Year 2

Diploma in Viticulture (Level 5)

Climate and frost

Tractors and machinery


Plant science and propagation

Soil science and fertilisers

Plant pests and diseases

Agrichemical safety




Pruning fruit trees and grapevines

Organics certification




Fruit production


Site evaluation

Weather and climate management

Soil and fertility management

Plant biology

Pest, disease and disorder management

Weed management

Supervisory skills

Irrigation management

Sustainable winegrowing and organic certification

Viticulture organisations and geography

Vine canopy management

Wine appreciation

Vineyard production planning

Overseas study review

Practical viticulture

Your workload

This programme is flexible to meet your needs and we will help you to plan a path of study and a timetable. Extensive workplace experience is needed to meet the requirements of the Practical Viticulture module. Case studies are often used to apply knowledge to real situations.

Student loans/allowances

Student loans and allowances are for domestic students only. For information about student loans and allowances please visit the Studylink website. 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. 

Recognition of prior learning

If you have extensive knowledge and skills due to practical experience in this area, enquire about our recognition of prior learning process at Capable NZ. You may have already gained credits towards this qualification.


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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