Viticulture & Wine Making
Situated in the heart of Marlborough wine country, NMIT offers viticulture courses and wine courses at certificate and diploma level plus a pathway to the Lincoln University Bachelor of Viticulture and Oenology degree, studied at NMIT's Marlborough campus. Our Diploma in Viticulture and Wine Production can also be studied online and part-time for those currently employed and/or outside of the Marlborough region.
NMIT’s Primary Industries programmes have a strong focus on “hands on” careers and provide training for some of the region’s key industries. Our staff are well qualified and work closely with industry to ensure that programmes are aligned with industry needs. In addition, we have a great team of guest tutors.
Choosing the right tertiary institute is an important decision. NMIT has been providing high quality tertiary education in the Top of the South region for the past 100 years. We offer you:
- Small class sizes and personal attention from tutors
- A hands-on, applied approach to learning
- Nationally recognised qualifications designed in consultation with industry
- Excellent support services
- A fun and vibrant campus environment.
When you study with us, you'll find our staff experienced and committed to helping you with gain the qualifications you’ll need to progress in the career of your choice.
Select a programme from below and then click on 'Apply Now'.
Programmes and Courses
Viticulture & Wine Making Tutors
Jeff Wilson, Primary Industries Programme Area Leader
Trades Cert. Hort, Nat Dip. Hort (RNZIH)
Jeff Wilson is passionate about growing things - whether it’s native plants, or his students’ careers. He has worked in the horticulture industry for more than 25 years including as an apprentice, a nursery and garden centre manager, assistant nursery manager at Hamilton City Council and tutor.
Jeff was previously head of Manukau Institute of Technology’s Horticulture School where he worked for 17 years. Thanks to his leadership the school is now one of New Zealand’s top horticulture training centres.
In 2008, Jeff was looking for a new challenge and moved to Nelson to become part of NMIT’s primary industries’ team. His aim as programme area leader is to always keep the training relevant and in-line with industry expectations and practice.
When not at NMIT, Jeff can be found running in the hills, gardening, playing touch rugby or hanging out with family - including two teenaged sons. He is currently studying through Massey University towards a Post Graduate Diploma in Management.
Tricia Jane, Wine Making Tutor
Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology’s wine tutor, Tricia Jane, has a guiding motto. “I really believe that the person who does the work is the person who learns.” With over 25 years experience in the wine industry Tricia has lived that philosophy and now encourages her students to experiment and try things themselves. “I think it’s vitally important, especially in the wine industry, to have a go and make the mistakes while you’re in the NMIT environment. Things can easily go wrong in winemaking – but that’s a huge part of the learning process.”
Tricia has seen most wine making problems and many times has been called upon to find solutions in her previous role as an international wine consultant. She’s helped on projects from the South of France and South America to Italy and Spain as well as here in New Zealand. “I love the problem-solving aspect of consultancy where you find solutions and make things happen.”
Tricia’s wine career started on the science side when she started working in the laboratory of the Wine Research Section at Ruakura Agricultural Research Centre in 1977. She graduated with a Bachelor of Applied Science (Wine Science) from Charles Sturt University in Australia in 1981 by which time she was laboratory manager for large North Island wineries of Corbans Wines. She moved to the same position at Cooks Wines in 1982. But it didn’t take long before she moved into winemaking and discovered a particular affinity for the variety and complexity of making different wines. Alongside her love of making wine, there was always a desire to help others find their own wine-making passion. Tricia spent the ‘90’s and early 2000’s either teaching , consulting or wine-making around the world. She lectured in wine-making at Roseworthy College, the University of Adelaide, Plumpton College in the United Kingdom, and at EIT in Hawkes Bay. Throughout those two decades she was a flying winemaker in Hungary and Spain - for Myliko Wines and France with Cellarworld International. She moved to winemaking consultancy for Cellarworld, and worked in Europe and South America, adding Italy, Chile, Argentina and Uruguay to the countries she has worked in. She started her own consultancy company when she returned to New Zealand. “A lot of consultancy is teaching in a different way, guiding people with where they’re going.”
Her love of teaching has seen Tricia help many of her students go on to do well in the industry. She says she has always loved the feeling of seeing the penny drop for a student. “That gives me a real sense of achievement as a tutor. When they make their first wine, which is very significant for them and they’re so proud of it, I really enjoy sharing those special moments.”
Tricia Jane has a strong academic knowledge of wine and has been involved with specialist research. While she was lecturing in Wine Science at the University of Adelaide, she explored the influence of yeast strain on wine flavour for a Master’s degree in Agricultural Science. “At the same time, I supervised Graduate Diploma students’ research into the interaction of yeast and oak chips during fermentation; and evaluation of differences in cap management during primary fermentation of reds.” With such an extensive wine background across all aspects, styles and locations Tricia offers a large body of knowledge for her NMIT students to tap into. “I think it is important that I have that depth. The students will ask me questions and I’m able to give them real life examples to reinforce what I’m teaching. I’m able to say ‘this happened in this winery and here’s how they dealt with it.’ Tricia says her understanding and practical experience helps to illustrate the teaching and make it come alive. ““I like to share the knowledge journey with my students without just telling them what to do – it’s about guiding them individually. It’s the great to watch their confidence blossom and help them into a new career in the wine industry that I love so much.”
Dion Mundy, Viticulture Tutor
Mention trunk fungi or bunch rot to Dion Mundy and you’re likely to start an animated discussion. Dion is a respected expert on grapevine diseases and he spends much of his time researching how to keep New Zealand’s grapevines healthy, as part of his job as scientist for Plant and Food Research in Marlborough.
With over 15 years experience in viticulture research, Dion is a valuable asset to NMIT Diploma in Viticulture and Wine Production students. “The nice thing about tutoring the diploma is that I can take the different levels of information that students already have and share that with the other students. I also make sure they’ve got the theoretical base to be critical thinkers and ask how chemicals work, and what side effects they might have, so it’s a process where I’m helping to upskill the industry.”
Dion grew up in the wine industry, and worked on the family vineyard in Canterbury while he completed his Bachelor and then Master of Science with Honours. Dion is a skilled researcher and has published many scientific papers on grapevine diseases. “We are catering for students who may be working in the industry around New Zealand and who want to get that formal qualification. We have fantastic online forums where the students talk about what they’re actually experiencing in the vineyard.” Dion says his former NMIT students have also proved very useful.“They’ll often get in touch and say things like ‘ You know how you talked about downy mildew? Well we’ve got some this year in Gisborne’ – that’s all field research I can use.”
He’s proud that the grapevine disease information he shares with his NMIT students is the most up-to-date information available in the country. “This kind of information would normally be for an active researcher doing a university degree, yet they’re getting it on the diploma.”
Dion hopes his personal enthusiasm for the wine industry rubs off on his students. “I can’t help my passion coming through in my teaching and they seem to respond to it. The students are always asking questions that are way ahead of what the syllabus requires, but they just want to know more. That’s the best feedback possible for me.”
Glenn Kirkwood, Viticulture Tutor
Glenn grew up in Australia’s first wine region - the Hunter Valley, and initially trained as a fitter and turner in the coal mining industry. He discovered his passion for viticulture while on his OE working as a cellar manager for a London department store.
Since then Glenn has gained an associate degree in applied science majoring in viticulture, from Charles Sturt University in New South Wales, and amassed more than 20-years’ experience in viticulture and vineyard management across New Zealand and Australia.
In 2009, Glenn joined NMIT as a part-time viticulture tutor before starting his current position two years later. He also runs his own company - Outback Viticultural Services, consulting to local vineyards. Glenn has developed a great network within the wine industry which helps him secure work placements for students and keep up- to-date with latest developments. He finds teaching incredibly rewarding and sees it as an opportunity to give back to the industry.
Sharon Spence, Viticulture and Wine Production Tutorial Assistant
As tutorial assistant, Sharon ensures the smooth running of NMIT’s Viticulture and Wine Production programme. As well as managing the teaching laboratory and winery, she supports the tutors and is the first point of contact for students - helping them settle in and providing on going pastoral care for them throughout their studies.
Sharon’s previous experience includes more than 20 years as a laboratory technician across a range of industries, including ten years in Australia’s gold mining sector and eight years at Pernod Ricards’ Brancott Estate winery in Marlborough, where she was responsible for training and coordinating the vintage team in one of the country’s largest and busiest winery laboratories.
In her spare time Sharon is involved in a youth mentoring programme and is kept busy by three chickens, beekeeping and swimming. She is also studying part-time for a Diploma in Viticulture and Wine Production at NMIT, together with a Diploma in Tertiary Learning and Teaching. Her goal is to become more involved with tutoring in wine production.
Viticulture & Wine Making Graduates
Cameron Trott, Diploma in Viticulture and Wine Production
It’s been a busy three years for Cameron Trott. He’s been a stay-at-home dad to two young sons while his wife worked and at the same time has completely changed his career. After 12 years in the hospitality industry as chef and manager, Cameron is now working full-time at Woollaston winery as a cellar hand while completing his Diploma of Viticulture and Wine Production at Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology. He’s set himself on a path to eventually becoming a winemaker. “When I found out I could stay at home in Riwaka and study online through NMIT for the Diploma, it was very attractive. In fact, I wouldn’t have been able to do it any other way.” When his boys were off to school and day-care, Cameron would log in and study. “The first two years were brilliant. I could fit it around my family life and with the tutor support it all worked really well. I loved it so much that I actually enjoyed sitting down with a cup of coffee to do my required reading. I just soaked it up.”
Cameron was keen to get hands on and use the knowledge he was learning. So he made contact with Nelson wineries. “Nelson is much smaller than Marlborough but we have a fantastic range of wineries and wine styles here to learn from. Nelson produces some of the best wines in the country and we have a lot of really established producers, so it’s not a disadvantage staying in Nelson to study.”
On an NMIT winery field trip, Cameron was talking to staff at Woollaston about how hard it was to get a full-time job locally. “They said, ‘funny you should say that because a fulltime cellar hand job has just come up’. So I jumped on that really fast.” Now working full-time, fitting his online study around it has been a challenge, especially during vintage, but Cameron says it’s all worthwhile. “It’s an amazing winery to work in.. I get to do so many things that it really helps with my study.. What’s exciting is that the winemaker is really good about making decisions as a team. At tasting or blending trials he’ll bring me in on that – so it’s pretty amazing for me as a cellar hand to be part of those winemaking processes and decisions.”
Cameron says it will end up taking him up to four years to get his Diploma but he says it’s vital to get that qualification. “I want to get an assistant winemaker position and eventually end up as a winemaker and to do that you have to have tertiary qualifications. Most job ads for winemakers specify that you need qualifications. It’s the norm now and for bigger wine companies it’s just one of the boxes you’ve got to tick.” Cameron says the flexibility of the NMIT programme meant he was able to change his life. “It’s a really great system because you can move in any direction without having to move away from your home to study or re-train.”
Mike Brown, Certificate in Vineyard Practice
Since Mike Brown graduated with his Certificate in Viticulture from Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology he’s done every job there is in the wine sector culminating in his current job as CEO of Mäori owned Kono Beverages – makers of the iconic Tohu wine label. “I’ve worked in all sectors and I’ve seen every aspect of the industry. Even though I’m a manager now, my passion is still strong for growing good grapes and producing great wines.” Mike realised the attractions of a career in the wine industry in his mid-20’s. “You got to do something different every day. It was working outdoors following the seasons, then the winemaking which is a great combination of art and science. Add on the whole marketing and sales side of the business and it seemed like a really complete job that could make for an interesting life.”
To follow his dream, Mike moved to Marlborough to study at NMIT. “It was 1993 and there were only 11 wineries in Marlborough then, things were just starting to take off. The NMIT course was the perfect entry into the industry. Of the 15 of us on that course that year there are quite a few who have gone on to become leaders in the wine industry. We all got our start through the course and the great contacts that gave us.”
Mike’s first job in a winery was for Vavasour – at that time the only winery in the Awatere Valley and processing just 100 tonnes. Then it was six years of back-to-back vintages for Mike in New Zealand and overseas – Australia, Chile, Argentina, Spain, France and California. He got his first break as a winemaker in Chile: “I was offered a job at Viña Tarapacá. It was a case of being thrown in the deep end looking after a 1000 tonne crush for them.” Mike worked two vintages before accepting a job for a wine consultancy working for a French wine co-op in Gascony one year and a Spanish co-op in Somantano the following year. “It was good to see that there’s more than one way to make wine. I accumulated what wine makers call ‘battle experience’ – clocking up vintages and learning about harvest, the winemaking involved, and the logistics of that process.”
Mike returned to Nelson to take up the position of Waimea Estates’ first full-time winemaker. After two years he was given the additional role of general manager. He stayed for a e stayHdecade, helping to build up that business, before he moved to his current role of CEO of Wakatu-owned Kono Beverages in 2010. “The challenge of managing and growing a business in the current environment is hugely rewarding. Although I’m not Mäori, I particularly like working in a Mäori organisation. There’s an extra layer of complexity that makes this job really worthwhile. I also relate to the way the owners talk about the land and the way they treat people - it’s more like business with somemeaning behind it rather than business for its own sake.” Kono Beverages produces 100,000 cases of wine currently, from vineyards in Nelson and Marlborough. Most of it is exported to the USA, Australia and the Netherlands, but with an increasing emphasis on Asia. In the pipeline are projects to go organic and carbon zero, a dedicated Nelson wine brand, as well as new products including cider, beer and bottled water.”
Mike Brown is hugely supportive of NMIT’s viticulture and wine production programme, having taken on students for placements over the years. “I always thought the people coming from NMIT tended to be very practically minded. At the end of the day you want someone who knows one end of a pump from the other, is reliable and can think on their feet, as well as having the basic theory. That’s what the NMIT course gives you.”
Watch and interview with Mike Brown on YouTube:
Hiroyuki Kishida, Diploma in Viticulture and Wine Production
Hiro Kishida was working long hours as an IT specialist in Tokyo’s urban jungle when he had a revelation.
“I wanted to change my lifestyle. I loved wine and I loved pinot noir, so I Googled winemaking and checked viticulture courses in English-speaking countries,” he says. “I chose New Zealand because it makes good pinot noir, is a very safe country and easy to live here.”
Hiro moved to Marlborough with his wife Yuko and enrolled in the Diploma in Viticulture and Winemaking programme at Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology. He liked the fact the programme was practical, had its own vineyard on campus and students got hands-on experience producing their own wine – from grape production through to harvest and wine-making.
“When I started the NMIT course I knew nothing about wine-making, but now I know a lot. It’s a very good course. It was very practical.”
Hiro graduated two years later and went straight into a job as a cellar hand and a vintage supervisor with Mud House winery in Marlborough. He got the job while on work experience as part of his NMIT training.
“Compared with my IT job in Toyko it’s a totally different life,” Hiro says. “It used to take 1 ½ hours to get to the office by crowded train, but now it only takes 10 minutes - I can have a life. I like making wine and working outside in a physical job.”
Hiro’s passion is making high-quality wines. Several of his vintages have won prestigious awards, including gold medals at the Air New Zealand Wine Show.
“Making wine is a science and an art. You are creating something people can enjoy and good wine is beautiful. I’m always thinking about quality and I’m very proud to be involved in making high-quality wine. When we win gold medals I’m very happy – especially if it’s for Pinot Noir.”
Hiro hopes one day to be winning awards for his own wine label.
“I want to have my own vineyard in Nelson one day, and I want to make my own brand specialising in Pinot Noir – that’s my dream.”
Watch and interview with Hiroyuki Kishida on YouTube:
Stephen Jackson, Diploma in Viticulture and Wine Production
Steve Jackson never thought at 50 he’d be starting all over again in a new career. But, that’s exactly what happened when he moved to New Zealand, caught the winemaking bug and enrolled in NMIT’s Diploma in Viticulture and Wine Production.
“I was 50 when I started the course. I thought I was beyond study but it turns out I’m not.”
Steve is now a vineyard assistant at Mount Base Vineyard in Waihope Valley where he works alongside the manager overseeing 51 hectares of sauvignon blanc grape vines. The job appealed because it will give him the experience he needs to realise his goal of becoming a vineyard manager.
“It’s quite a varied role. I love being outside and there’s such a variety of jobs I do. It’s perfect as a new graduate because you’re at the front-line and learning something different every day.”
Steve is originally from the United Kingdom where he worked for 22 years in the British Air Force as a weapons’ technician before retiring to set up a landscape gardening business and later moving to New Zealand with his wife.
It was while applying for a job as a vineyard worker at Oyster Bay winery in Blenheim that he first considered viticulture as a career. “The manager looked at my CV and said that with all my experience, I could do his job. He’d studied viticulture at NMIT and highly recommended it because it really sets you up for work in the industry.”
Never one to jump in head first though, Steve looked into the course in great detail before enrolling.
“That’s how I am, I like to know what I’m getting myself in for so I really considered it thoroughly. The more I learned the more I realised how much was involved in the programme and how well laid out it was - I was really impressed.”
One thing that stood out to him was how practical the programme was. NMIT has its own vineyard and wine laboratory on campus, allowing students to experience the entire grape growing and winemaking process over their two years’ of study.
“It’s really good to have a vineyard and winery facility. We were actually able to make our own wine from grapes we helped grow. We did the pruning, picked our own grapes, tested them, made our own wine and did all the other seasonal tasks you’d do on a real vineyard.”
Steve is now enjoying putting his newfound skills to practice in his current job where his responsibilities include harvesting grapes, spraying and pruning vines, constant water maintenance and generally making sure the vineyard is healthy.
“I really enjoy looking after the young vines, they’re the future of the vineyard. They may need a bit more TLC because they’re more vulnerable, but I just enjoy seeing them thrive, “ Steve says. “You have to look after your young, that’s the way I look at it. You’ve got to think of the future.”
Watch and interview with Stephen Jackson on YouTube:
Ben Burridge, Diploma in Viticulture and Wine Production
Ben Burridge believes the New Zealand wine industry has a big future in organics - and he intends to be part of it.
“I can see myself in a few years owning my own organic vineyard somewhere around Marlborough,” he says. “There’s a lot of potential for organics and it’s a really nice way to make wine.”
For now though, Ben is content learning all he can as a cellar and vineyard hand at Wither Hills winery in Blenheim, where he has worked since graduating from Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology’s Diploma in Viticulture and Wine Production and winning the Wither Hills’ Scholarship for high achievement in 2011.
“I work in the winery but I’m also out in the field a lot driving tractors and getting about on farm bikes,” he says. “I’m able to experience the whole process of the wine production, from growing and harvesting the grapes to making the wine.”
Ben’s interest in organics was sparked while studying at NMIT and spending time on student work placement at Huia - an organic winery in Marlborough.
“Organics is a growing market and it’s good for New Zealand’s image and good for the land and our health,” he says. “NMIT had quite a big focus on organics because they try and show us all the different ways of producing wine and the different philosophies that go into making it and doing viticulture.”
He is passionate about it now, but viticulture was not a career Ben initially considered. After leaving school in North Otago, he gained a double degree in Management and Art from Otago University with the intention of working in the corporate world.
“I thought I’d be a corporate CEO making millions of dollars. As I got older, I could see that working in an office wasn’t for me - I wanted to be more land-based and more specialised in my career.” It was while travelling overseas to countries including Italy, that he realised the potential for the New Zealand wine industry – particularly in organics.
“I want to be in an industry that’s dynamic, where you’re making a range of products of different qualities,” Ben says. “There are several wine regions in New Zealand, growing different varieties of wine so there are lots of options. It’s also one of the few industries in New Zealand you can work in organics as well, that was a big draw card.”
With the NMIT Diploma completed, Ben is now completing a further year of study plus summer school to gain a Bachelor of Viticulture and Oenology through Lincoln University under the pathway agreement with NMIT. Ben says NMIT’s viticulture programme appealed to him because a lot of the training is practical and hands-on, it offers excellent work experience opportunities and is in an ideal location.
“The main thing is the course is in the biggest wine producing region in New Zealand. You can get connections and network so easily, there’s just so much going on with wine. If you’ve got a passion for it, it’s an awesome place to be.”
“I learned heaps of practical skills at NMIT and got loads of experience - it’s made me more employable. When you graduate you’ve done a vintage, you’ve got your work experience and your certificates - so you’re ready to go.”
Watch and interview with Ben Burridge on YouTube:
Krystal Palmer, Diploma in Viticulture & Wine Production
Diploma in Viticulture & Wine Production (Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology) and Lincoln University Bachelor of Viticulture and Oenology
Cellar hand and lab assistant, Yealands Estate
Most women who find themselves pregnant in the middle of an intensive two year diploma might consider dropping out - or at least taking a break from their studies. Not Krystal. Instead, the determined 26-year-old from Blenheim who was part-way through the Diploma in Viticulture and Wine Production at Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology (NMIT)’s Marlborough Campus enlisted the support of family and friends and ploughed on, by switching to NMIT’s online study option.
“It was really full-on and I couldn’t have done it without that family support. I studied early mornings, evenings and weekends. The NMIT tutors were really supportive and understood my situation,” she says.
Krystal decided to study viticulture and wine at NMIT after several years working as a dental assistant both in Blenheim and overseas. “When I returned to New Zealand, I decided I didn’t want to do that anymore. I wanted something that was a complete change but didn’t really know what I wanted. I went along to the NMIT Open Day and talked to the viticulture and wine staff and something just clicked. I knew I wanted a career where I’d have a lot of variety, and I’ve always enjoyed science. I also wanted to be able to stay in the Marlborough region,” she says.
Krystal says she enjoyed studying at NMIT and particularly appreciated the many field trips and guest lecturers who were brought in to talk to the students. “These people were all potential employers so we had the chance to make really good contacts for when it came time to find a job.” She also enjoyed the well-equipped on-campus winery and laboratory. “All the lab-based exercises were really beneficial. We learnt how to do things using the most modern equipment, but also with more basic equipment, so we were prepared to work in any sort of winery,” she says.
After completing the two year diploma, Krystal was able to pathway into the third year of the Lincoln University Bachelor of Viticulture and Oenology which can be studied independently at NMIT’s Marlborough Campus. The degree has an emphasis on the integration of grape growing and wine-making and includes 18 weeks practical work experience.
Today, Krystal is a cellar-hand and lab assistant at Yealands Estate. Located in the Awatere Vallley, Marlborough, Yealands Estate is known for its award-winning wines produced in harmony with the environment and its colourful founder Peter Yealands. Krystal says it’s a great place to work with a good staff culture. “I enjoy the variation – every day is different.” Krystal’s job includes cellar-hand duties such as bottling, racking and transferring wine however she also does two days a week in the laboratory, taking and analysing samples and working closely with wine makers.
Krystal is happy to be gaining valuable experience and learning all she can in her current role as she works toward her goal of becoming a winemaker. And one suspects that given the level of determination she showed to complete her studies while raising her daughter, achieving that next step is only a matter of time…
Constellation Wine - Viticulture
This scholarship is designed to assist students, who are enrolled in Year One of the NMIT Diploma in Viticulture and Wine Production, with course fees and to generate and provide an opportunity through Constellation Brands for recipients who wish to consider a career in business in the wine industry.
Open to 2nd year Diploma in Viticulture and Wine Production students.
Up to 2 x $1500.
Open to 2nd year Diploma in Viticulture and Wine Production students who intend to carry on to study the Lincoln University Bachelor of Viticulture and Oenology. Up to $4,000, plus $1000 per year, for two years, for attending the annual Bragato conference, paid work experience during semester breaks and summer holidays, plus the option of full time employment on completion of study.
Up to $4000 towards study, and $1,000 per year to attend the annual Bragato industry conference.
Constellation Wine - Business
This scholarship is designed to assist students, who are enrolled on Year Two of the NMIT Diploma in Business Level 5 or Bachelor of Commerce majoring in Marketing or Management, with course fees and to generate and provide an opportunity through Constellation Brands for recipients who wish to consider a career in business in the wine industry.
The objectives of the WineWorks Scholarship is to support people to further their studies in the Hawkes Bay and Nelson/Marlborough regions, to contribute to the competitiveness of the New Zealand wine industry and assist in the development of technical expertise and to promote awareness of career opportunities in the ‘industrial end’ of the wine industry (encompassing bottling, labeling, storage and distribution).
Two scholarships will be awarded to assist local students from the Marlborough region who might not otherwise be able to afford a tertiary education and/or industry based courses as these relate to the rural sector. The award will be for $7,500 each paid out over three years at $2,500 per anum, subject to submitting details of satisfactory academic achievement and future study intention.