Understanding Student Perceptions and Industry Expectations for Viticulture and Enology Careers

Wednesday, July 24, 2013
Desert Ballroom: Salons 7-8 (Desert Springs J.W Marriott Resort )
Sierra Laverty, Undergraduate student , Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR
James Osborne, Associate Professor & Extension Enologist , Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR
With the recent development of commercial wine grape industries throughout many states in the United States, there has been an increase in job potential in the area of viticulture and enology. Universities have developed various forms of curricula to provide specialized education in viticulture and/or enology. However, there are no published needs assessments specific to the career field.  A research study was developed to address student perceptions of preparedness and industry expectations of students entering viticulture and enology careers. A multiple-tool approach was used to gather information from students, employers, and current industry professionals. Students within the Viticulture and Enology Degree Programs at Oregon State University were surveyed for competencies, weaknesses, and perceptions of skills, knowledge, and attributes required in viticulture and enology careers. Required skills, knowledge, and attributes were also assessed through industry employer interviews.  These were compared against data obtained from current industry professionals, the majority of whom were from Oregon. Students were more confident in knowledge than skills, and they cited most confidence in viticulture, vine physiology, enology, and laboratory analyses. They were least confident in their knowledge and skill level for vineyard and/or winery management and equipment operation and maintenance.  Students realized work experience was required to gain knowledge, skill, and confidence in those areas. Industry employers indicated greater preference for personal attributes (reliability, work ethic, and teamwork) and work experience combined with the degree, citing the importance of core science and agricultural background knowledge for BS-level jobs in viticulture and/or enology. Rarely did industry employers indicate that a degree specific to viticulture and/or enology was required. Specialization in the work experience related to the career area outweighed degree specialization. These data confirmed the strength of OSU’s program where the viticulture and enology options are within horticulture and food science degree programs and reinforces the importance of student internships.
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