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The only TAFE campus in Australia with a fully functioning winery where students enjoy hands-on experience in the wine-making process is right on the Hunter Valley’s doorstep, at TAFE NSW Kurri Kurri.
Its local Diploma of Viticulture course is the only one of its kind. Keen students, viticulture acting head teacher Albert Sherry, viticulture teacher Stephen Gell, winemaking teacher Geoff Broadfield and winemaker Jane Hoppe operate the winery, the course and its produce.
They showcased the TAFE NSW Kurri Kurri wares – both the diploma course and the winery’s red and white wines, branded Intuition – at the recent Stomp Festival in Cessnock.
Teacher Albert Sherry said, “This was the first Stomp Festival we had attended and we had fantastic feedback about our wine and our Diploma of Viticulture, which we’ll start taking registrations for shortly. Many didn’t realise we offered the course, so it was a good opportunity to raise awareness.”
“The drought conditions and recent rain had no impact on the recent 2019 wine harvest, with excellent quality and varieties of grapes kindly donated from a range of wineries for students to develop skills around the practices involved in the wine making process. Our award-winning wines use a combination of grapes from the Hunter Valley and the Central West wine regions.
“With this busy period now over, TAFE NSW viticulture students have returned to a ‘normal’ pace, and continue to build their knowledge on the winemaking processes.”
Viticulture students undertake two wine harvest periods during their studies to gain the required practical skills and knowledge needed to be job-ready for the industry.
TAFE NSW Kurri Kurri has been delivering viticulture-related courses for 20 years. The students are taught how to monitor and manage soils for production projects, evaluate wine, diagnose plant health problems, manage staff, develop a grape production plan and chemical use strategy, oversee vineyard practices, manage water systems, operate equipment and machinery, and much more.
Grapes are donated by vineyards during the vintage period each year (January to March) and are crushed, processed, stored and then bottled to make a variety of wines on-site including Sparkling, Chardonnay, Cabernet Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Verdelho and Shiraz. Some are returned to their origin and some kept for sale through the Hunter Valley Hotel Academy, a hospitality training facility at TAFE NSW Kurri Kurri.
The next Diploma of Viticulture student cohort will commence in late July. Registrations open in the coming days, with course details available at www.tafensw.com.au. Further, an information and enrolment session will be conducted on Monday 1 July from 12:30pm in the TAFE NSW Kurri Kurri Winery on McLeod Road.
TAFE NSW is Australia’s largest training provider, offering over 1,200 courses, from certificates to degrees. Many can be studied online via TAFE Digital. Visit www.tafensw.com.au or call 131 601.