Quality wine needs quality wine growers – it all starts on the vine

1 June 2022

Primary ITO has responded to the wine growing industry’s need for a programme dedicated to their unique requirements.


The Level 3 New Zealand Certificate in Horticulture Production (Wine Growing) has been launched with the support of the industry and enrolments are now open.

Primary ITO Sector Manager for wine growing Jimmy Crockett says that previously, learners had enrolled in a fruit production programme, which wasn’t ideal for their specific needs. Wine Growing is a unique programme in that it deals with growing a product which still needs a lot of work after it’s picked.

“If you think about apples and pears, they’re packaged as a final product just like that. But with wine, it starts with the grapes. So any aspect of vineyard work has an effect on the wine that they’re producing from these crops. They’re not actually producing fruit, they’re producing wine.”

The new programme offers on-job training at all stages of the wine growing process, from establishing a vineyard right through to harvest time. There’s also an introduction to the history of the industry in New Zealand and the winemaking process. “It’s really important for people on the vineyard to understand the winemaking process as it can’t work without people growing top quality grapes to make it.”

Jimmy expects that most people enrolling in the programme will have done a reasonable amount of work on a vineyard already. “That means they will have an understanding of the basic tasks, but this training will help them develop the knowledge of why that work is necessary, which is critical to progressing in the industry.”

Within the programme, there are many choices to cater to the specific needs of the employer and the learner. The three main roles it’s suitable for are:

  • Vineyard operators, who generally do a lot of work with machinery.
  • Trainee technicians who do things like irrigation maintenance, fertilisers, maturity testing, pest and disease monitoring.
  • Seasonal employees, like vineyard hands who do pruning and picking.

Later this year Primary ITO plans to launch a full New Zealand Apprenticeship in Horticulture Production (Wine Growing), as well as a standalone Level 4 New Zealand Certificate.

The Level 3 New Zealand Certificate in Horticulture Production (Wine Growing) is partially covered by the Government’s Targeted Training and Apprenticeship Fund, meaning subsidised fees up until 31st December 2022. 

To enquire about the new programme, please fill in the form below and your local team will be in touch soon.