COLLEGE STATION — College students at Texas A&M University may tack on a new, official certification to their degrees – winemaking.
The Enology Certificate program will begin in the fall and offer 15 hours of concentrated study in viticulture, pre- and post-fermentation winemaking processes, wine etiquette and sensory evaluation, according to Dr. Andreea Botezatu, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service enologist in College Station.
“The wine industry is growing exponentially in Texas,” said Botezatu, who will be teaching the enology course for the certificate. “With 400 wineries now and an increasing number of new starts, the state’s industry faces specific challenges such as the climate and the geographical particularities of the state.”
She should know about the challenges. A native of Romania, Botezatu began her career as a winemaker in August 2000 producing wine first in Iasi and Barlad, Romania and then in Grimsby and Jordan, Ontario, Canada.
After facing the arduous challenge of hand-sorting 50 tons of ladybug-infested grapes in the Ontario winery where she worked, Botezatu decided to obtain a graduate degree that allowed her to focus her research on the ladybug taint problem and others facing the industry worldwide.And winemaking may have remained her main path except for another lady of sorts — the ladybug. The multicolored Asian ladybugs’ attraction to wine can lead to tainting of the product, Botezatu said. Even a few bugs can ruin entire batches.
To her bachelor’s and master’s degree from the University of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine in Iasi, Romania, Botezatu added a doctorate in wine science from Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario in 2014.
In early 2017, she joined the faculty of the department of horticultural sciences at Texas A&M as assistant professor in addition to her role with AgriLife Extension.
“My goal is to serve the winemaking industry through applied research as well as through developing educational opportunities for current and prospective winemakers,” Botezatu said. “The new Enology Certificate program is an exciting additional opportunity for training future wine specialists.”
She hopes students who share her passion for winemaking – and are up to facing the challenges – will opt for the certificate. It will be offered through the horticultural sciences department at Texas A&M, but it is open to students of any major.
Among the classes are “Understanding Wine: From Vines to Wines and Beyond,” “Concepts of Wine Production,” “Enology (from small- to middle-scale commercial),” “Viticulture and Small Fruit Culture” and “Fruit and Nut Production.” Students will also take “Elements of Organic and Biological Chemistry” and “Sensory Evaluation of Foods.”