What Does an Enologist Do?

Dan Cavallari
Dan Cavallari
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An enologist is a person who is trained in all aspects of the winemaking process, from grape growing to harvesting and production. This study is a branch of viticulture, and an enologist is likely to work for a winery or related wine business. The level of education enologists must hold can vary, but most have attended college and obtained an undergraduate degree. Some colleges and universities even offer enology degrees that will teach a student all the necessary skills to be successful in the field. Other enologists may hold advanced degrees in related fields such as ecology or botany.

In order to be successful as an enologist, the candidate must study chemistry, biology, and other sciences that will help him understand the chemical makeup of specific grapes. It helps, too, to have a well-developed palate and a passion for wine and winemaking, as the enologist will be actively involved in just about every step of the winemaking process. The specific duties of this professional can vary, and some enologists will work primarily in one area of the winemaking process rather than on the entire process from start to finish.

It is likely that an enologist will be trained to understand soil composition and other planting issues so he or she can make determinations about the best settings for vineyard plants. The enologist will monitor the growth of plants and make adjustments accordingly; this can take several years of observation and adjustment, as many grape plants do not produce usable fruit in the first few years after planting. Once the plants begin to bear fruit, enologists will monitor the taste characteristics of the grapes, such as sweetness, bitterness, tone, and texture. This will help winemakers determine which grapes should be used to create a certain type of wine.

Depending on the size of the winemaking operation, an enologist may have a specific job description that involves experimenting with new types of grapes, new planting techniques, different soils and chemicals, and other experiments that can produce wines of various flavors. A winemaker may give enologists the task of finding optimal conditions to create a specific type of wine that the vineyard had not previously produced. Such an undertaking can take significant experimentation and monitoring, and the enologists will need to have a strong background in both science and winemaking to understand which conditions will be optimal for the desired outcome of plants.

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