New Zealand Certificate in Cellar Operations (Level 3)


Online with practical work experience

17 weeks full-time
February 2022
A part-time August start is pending confirmation

Want to work as a cellar operator in commercial wine cellar operations? 

What better place to learn about wine than in the heart of one of the most-renowned wine making regions of New Zealand?

With work experience, field trips and online learning, you’ll learn all about:

  • the wine industry, wine making processes, and plant and equipment that you’d use as a cellar operator
  • legislation, regulatory, food safety and workplace and personal health and safety requirements
  • how to work effectively in a team when transferring wine to meet production requirements
  • how to complete routine cellar operation tasks. 

Plus, Otago Polytechnic holds an accredited membership status for Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand. All our lecturers within this programme are recognised as sustainable practitioners, incorporating best practice in their teaching at all times.

This is an entry-level programme designed for people already working in a winery, or for those who want to enter the wine industry.  

Please email if you have any questions!

What will I learn? 

This programme has four compulsory courses. You'll need to finish all of these to complete the programme. 

Course name Course overview What will I learn?

Wine and Wine Industry

(10 credits) 

Introduction to the NZ Wine Industry
and the principles of working 
effectively in a cellar team.  


  • NZ wine varieties and styles 
  • NZ wine regions 
  • Basic sensory evaluation of wine 
  • Communication and teamwork skills 
  • Health and Safety 

Wine Processing 

(20 credits)


Outline red and white winemaking processes and the safe use of the equipment required.  


  • Introduction to winemaking processes (red and white including yeast and malolactic fermentation)
  • Grape chemical makeup (sugars etc.) and appropriate analysis 
  • Winemaking flow into the winery 
  • Cellar hygiene and chemical safety 
  • Additions including yeast rehydration  
  • Awareness of basic wine/juice analysis 
  • Health and Safety protocols 

Cellar Operations 

(20 credits)

Completion of a range of cellar operations applying correct protocols and safety measures. 


  • Knowledge and application of practical tasks in the winery 
  • Sign off of 'standard' achievement levels in these tasks 
  • Pumps (choice, priming etc.), racking, making additions, venturi, washing, mixing etc.)
  • Intro tasks/workshop
  • Health and safety protocols

Wine Management Post-Fermentation 

(10 credits)

Introduce the stages of finishing a wine following correct protocols and safety procedures.


  • An overview of process used to 'finish' wines (e.g. stabilisation, fining, filtration, blending, maturation, barrels, packaging, bottling)
  • Fieldtrips associated with each stage 
  • Health and Safety protocols 
Sustainable Development 

Otago Polytechnic holds an accredited membership status for Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand which is recognised as one of the wine industry's leading sustainability accreditation programmes worldwide.

Lecturers within this programme are recognised as sustainable practitioners, incorporating best practice in their teaching at all times. 

You'll be taught to assess and control the risks of environmental impacts, and health and safety hazards throughout all the courses above.  

How will I learn?

Online and on campus learning

The programme starts on February 14 with an induction and then most of your learning will occur online. This makes it a great, flexible option if you’re already working.

You’ll complete coursework during February and March to give you all the background knowledge you need in preparation for working the grape harvest in the winery cellar (from April). 

While the programme is primarily delivered online, you'll need to be available to meet for in-class tutorials, field trips and assignments. This will be arranged through a chat with your lecturer and would be anticipated to be one day a week during February and March.

Work experience 

You’ll also need to complete 295 hours of work experience.

You must be working in the wine industry already and/or have a harvest cellar job lined up for the 2022 grape harvest. 

Before your work experience begins, a written agreement will be signed by you, an Otago Polytechnic staff member and your employer outlining expectations, and roles and responsibilities. Just so everyone is on the same page. 

During your work experience placement, our staff will be in touch with you to make sure you're going ok. 

What are the entry requirements? 
Academic requirements 
  • For those under 20: NCEA Level 1.
  • For those 20 and above: No minimum academic requirements. 
English Language requirements 

If you need to improve your English Language skills, we offer a wide range of English programmes.

Other requirements 
  • You'll need to complete a questionnaire about your background, and your reasons for wanting to undertake the programme. Please upload this with your application.

Download questionnaire here > 

  • You may be subject to drug and alcohol testing while on your work placement. 
  • This programme has elements that require a certain level of physical strength and fitness. You'll need to be physically capable of completing all aspects of the programme. 
  • Learners who will be under 18 during activities that require the tasting of alcohol will not be allowed to participate in this activity without first giving us a signed guardian consent form.   
Paying for your study


The Government’s Targeted Training and Apprenticeship Fund (TTAF) is currently running but will end in December 2022. That means only your 2022 study will be covered. You may be able to get some financial help for your remaining study through the Fees Free scheme if you’re eligible (see info below).

Whilst this programme is free for you to study during 2022, the TTAF fund only covers tuition fees and compulsory costs such as student levies. It does not cover any additional costs or living costs. You can pay for additional and living costs by yourself if that is possible or by applying for a loan or allowance through Studylink (which is only available for domestic learners).      

It is important to apply for your student loan/allowance at the same time as you apply for this programme, due to the length of time Studylink take to process. Loan/allowance applications can be cancelled at any time if you decide to withdraw your programme application or if it is unsuccessful. 

For information about student loans and allowances please visit the Studylink website

Fees Free

The Government is also running a funding scheme called Fees Free for domestic learners. This scheme normally pays for your first year of study if you’ve never been enrolled in tertiary study over 60 credits at Level 3 or higher in New Zealand. They have confirmed that TTAF does not impact on a learner’s entitlement to also access the Fees Free scheme. 

So, you’ll be covered by TTAF for your 2022 study and, if you would have originally been eligible for Fees Free, you’ll be able to access that to cover some of your remaining study. 

You can check your Fees Free eligibility here > 

Fees Free only covers your tuition fees. You would still need to pay for things like accommodation, living costs and placement transport costs.  

Again, you can pay for these costs by yourself if possible or by applying for a loan or allowance through Studylink (only available for domestic learners). 

If you have any questions about student loans and allowances, please email our Studylink Advisor:  


While every effort is made to ensure that this sheet is accurate, Otago Polytechnic reserves the right to amend, alter or withdraw any of the contained information. The fees shown in this document are indicative ONLY. Both domestic and international fees are subject to change and are dependent on the development and implementation of Government policies. Please note that additional fees may from time to time be required for external examination, NZQA fees and/or additional material fees.

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