Viticulture (from the Latin word for vine) is the science, production and study of winemaking grapes which deals with the series of events that occur in the vineyard. With grapes used for winemaking, it is also known as viniculture, which is a branch of the science of horticulture.
The responsibilities of a viticulturist include: monitoring and controlling vine pests and diseases and should know how to deal with them. Fertilizing, irrigation, canopy management, monitoring fruit development and characteristics, along with deciding when to harvest grapes and also vine pruning during the winter months.
Viticulturists are often closely involved with winemakers (for many wineries around the world - this is the same person).
It is the vineyard management and the resulting grape characteristics that provide the basis from which quality winemaking can begin.
Viticulturists play an important role in the production of wine. They strive to ensure that the grapes that will be used are grown in a manner that will provide maximum yield and flavour. Not all grapes are suitable for profitable winemaking; a viticulturist is trained to grow grapes that are suitable. He/she applies various types of scientific knowledge, combined with agricultural techniques, to impact the yield of grape vines and the quality of the grapes that are produced.
Once the planting is done, the viticulturist needs to care for the vines. In a winemaking venture, the vines are a large investment. If anything happens to them, it usually results in great loss to the business.
Caring for the grape vines includes continuing attention paid to the soil conditions, and to the vine canopy. The viticulturist must concentrate on proper pruning; also understand how factors such as photosynthesis and irrigation will affect the outcome.
At the end of the growing season, the viticulturist is also generally responsible for overseeing the harvest schedule. This is a crucial step in the winemaking process. If the grapes are harvested too early or if they are allowed to stay on the vines too long, it could be a disaster.