WSET Diploma Part 3: D1 Viticulture & Viniculture

Of all the modules, this was the one that I was most looking forward to.

It was the reason why I wanted to do the Diploma. I actually considered applying to an Oenology or Viticulture program. But I don't want to be a winemaker. And I don't see myself running around in the African sun looking at's fun for 30 minutes before heading to the wine tasting...but I just couldn't see a practical future in a Viti degree. So the next best route, and a way to complete something that I'd started, was to learn more through the WSET Diploma.

D1 Study Strategy

Four words: spaced repetition + active recall. Those were still the name of the game...but remember, we only had a month to cover a thick module that contributed 20% to our overall Diploma results...I very nearly ran out of time and had to adapt my study strategy.

One of our lecturers (who is absolutely awesome...but remember, I don't learn like that), mentioned that the Viti is much harder than the Vini. Unless you work in a winery, that is so not true! Vini is so much harder to wrap your head around because the average person does NOT come into contact with the majority of the machinery. The average person does NOT work with any of the chemicals. And some of us are NOT science minded! Whereas Viti is reasonably easy to understand...most of it applies to any plant. You could look at a weed...a clover...and apply the textbook to this little plant.

So make sure that you leave sufficient time for Viticulture!

Extra effort:

A few students in our group started reading the recommended study material months before the Diploma course began. They highly recommended David Bird MW's Understanding Wine Technology - The Science of Wine Explained. I had a moment of panic in the last week and tried to source an no avail (what do sight impaired wine students do?). I will most definitely read this book once I've completed the Diploma. From what I've heard, it makes science make sense to non science people.

Because of the time crunch (and having a day job), I wasn't able to indulge in additional learning resources for this module. To be honest, it's only recently during my D5 studies that I've had the luxury of actually researching and understanding what a flotation tank actually is! I know that YouTube has a plethora of content to encourage visual learning...but it's remarkably 2D in comparison to real life experience. Most of what truly sank in for me in terms of the viniculture chapters, was referencing my brief time helping out in a winery. So, if you can, you should definitely offer your help at a winery to familiarise yourself with the equipment, layout and processes. Every winery is different...but hopefully it allows you to see some of how certain styles of wines are made.

I can't say that I have much advice for this module. I was racing everyday to try and complete the chapter/s I'd assigned myself for the day. I was honestly learning brand new information in the very last chapters 2 days before the exam. I remember reading over rosé...but I ran out of time and didn't get A chance to 'study' it. 

And here's where my previous tip comes into play - recap Level 3. We had an exam question about rosé wines. Needless to say, I saved that question until last...knowing full well that I'd never actually studied it and would be doing a fair amount of thumb sucking. Thank goodness for Level 3, general Instagram information, an MW masterclass a few months ago way before I committed to the Diploma...and COMMON SENSE! When in doubt, fall back on your Level 3 knowledge, reading for understanding in the Diploma textbook, and common sense!

If I could have a do over:

Funnily enough, I was telling my fellow students that D1 would be the exam that I'd want to rewrite...sheerly because I enjoyed the topic and wanted to give the module my full attention in a more reasonable space of time. I remember walking to a tree to 'touch wood' as I said it...because nobody wants to have to rewrite any of the exams! The tree worked...and a few weeks ago I opened an email that confirmed that I'd received a distinction for this exam.

Find more information:

Or if you're in South Africa, you can find the information here:

Leave a Reply