The Plant and Soil Science Department in the College of Agricultural Science and Natural Resources offers an area of specialization in viticulture and enology, the study of growing grapes and producing wine.
In this coursework, students are able to see the science behind a glass of wine from the grape to the finished product. The area of specialization came about in 2010.
“It is really new and we have spent more time getting the program started instead of letting people know about it,” Ed Hellman, professor of viticulture, said.
Though the program is fairly young, it is the only one of its kind.
“Our program is the only four year program in viticulture and enology in Texas,” he said.
There are wine industries in every state in the country and graduates from the program are using this to their advantage, he said.
Hellman said wineries from all around look to Texas Tech for interns and graduates to fill positions.
Emily Simpson, operations manager at McPherson Sellers Winery, said she has her current position because on an internship she did while of the program.
In the coursework, students learn both viticulture and enology.
“Viticulture is the actual grape production,” Thayne Montague, associate professor of horticulture, said. “The viticulture side is learning what to look for when planning your vineyard and learning the different varieties that grow there and the different rootstocks that will help them grow well.”
The viticulture coursework also teaches anatomy of the vines, pruning, irrigation and the planning of the vineyard, he said.
The enology coursework teaches the actual production of wine.
“The enology side is taking the fruit from the vineyard, after it is made into juice making wine or grape juice,” Montague said.
With many local vineyards in Lubbock, grapes prove to be a crop that grows well in the local weather, he said.
“It can get by with the heat and it doesn’t take much water,” Montague said.
“To me it is an exciting field,” Hellman said. “Grapes are a fascinating crop to work with.”
The viticulture and enology specialization also teaches the history of wine and the background behind many different varieties.
“The varieties that we grow are not just 100s of years old but 1,000s of years old,” he said. “There is a lot of history behind it, not just science.”
The newest class that has just been added in the specialization is PSS 3311, the Science of Wine. In this course students will learn the ancient origins of grape and wine production, along with the present-day application of biology, chemistry, and technology to growing grapes wine production. This class will also focus on the many different careers offered in the wine industry, Hellman said.