My journey towards WSET Diploma, part 1 – D1 (previous Unit 2), Wine production

Before you start reading, take into account that I took my exam in August 2017 so some of the information about the WIne Production exam might be outdated.

I must say that starting my Diploma adventure with Unit 2 (it the new Diploma specification it is D1 – Wine Production) was the best start that I could have imagined. Looking back at my studies, the knowledge of viticulture and winemaking was useful in all the other units. OK, maybe not so useful for unit 4 (spirits) but I used it in all the wine-related parts of the Diploma.

Another thing that makes this unit great is that you are provided with all the materials. It is really useful that in the coursebook you have all the answers to the possible exam questions. This was not the case in other units where you needed to do a lot of research of your own and you never really knew how much (or how little) you needed to know. Having said that, I also used two other books – “Viticulture – An Introduction to Commercial Grape Growing for Wine Production” and “Understanding Wine Technology: The Science of Wine Explained”. Both books explain the viticulture and winemaking concepts in a different and often more detailed way than the coursebook. This surely helped me better understand the material.

What is this unit about? Well, it’s all you can imagine about vine growing and making wine, from choosing the site for a vineyard, understanding the climate, choosing the rootstock and vine diseases to fermentation, barrel aging, bottling, and finally distribution. Basically, everything that happened to the wine that is in your glass right now. I am pretty sure that during the studies for Unit 2 (now D1) you may ask yourself why you did not pay more attention to biology, geology, geography and chemistry in high school. Too late my friend, you are on your own now (ok, not fully on your own, you’ve got at least this blog 😂).

The exam for this unit is also different from all the other units. In this case, we have a multi-choice test with 100 questions. You need to know the answers to 55 questions and you will be sorted. Unfortunately, the wording of the questions is not perfect and it often seems like the examiners are just trying to trick the students. Oh well, it is what it is. With practice you can get used to the tricky-ness of these questions and answering will become easier and easier every time you try it.

The best part of unit 2 exam? You get your results relatively quickly. With other units you need to wait between 8-12 weeks, in this case, it should be more like 3-4 weeks. And no, you don’t get to know what questions you got right/wrong. Anyway, this unit has an average pass rate over 75% so hopefully, you won’t need to worry about that.

I was lucky enough to pass the exam with a really good score. The score was even more surprising taking into account that I had never worked in a vineyard or a winery. I guess it shows that well structured and consistent studies do the trick.

Good luck with your studies! Let me know how you did!

Oh, and here are some sample questions, in case you are wondering what to expect:

  1. Which pre-fermentation clarification method is considered particularly suited to aromatic varieties?
    Select one:
    a. Cold settling
    b. Flotation
    c. Diatomaceous earth filtration
    d. Centrifugation
  2. What is the advantage of using pectolytic enzymes in winemaking?
    Select one:
    a. They convert malic acid into lactic acid.
    b. They lower the levels of tannins extracted.
    c. They help extract more clear juice from the grape flesh.
    d. They inhibit the development of microorganisms.
  3. The herbaceous phase refers to which part of the vine’s lifecycle?
    Select one:
    a. The growth of the shoots from budburst to flowering
    b. The green growth from flowering to véraison
    c. The formation of the berry until véraison
    d. Post-harvest growth until the first frosts
  4. Which of the following would be most suitable to apply to weed free soils to control weed development
    Select one:
    a. Contact herbicides
    b. Pre-emergence herbicides
    c. Systemic herbicides
    d. No suitable herbicides exist
  5. How might levels of volatile acidity be measured in wine prior to bottling?
    Select one:
    a. Heating to 80ºC for six hours.
    b. Using a flame atomic absoption spectrophotometer
    c. Using a hydrometer
    d. By enzymatic assay
  6. What is a particular problem with rotofermenters?
    Select one:
    a. Difficulty controlling pumping over.
    b. Difficulty controlling fermentation temperature.
    c. Only suitable for inexpensive, bulk wines.
    d. Over-extraction of pigment
  7. Which of the following will NOT improve soil structure?
    Select one:
    a. Capping the soil
    b. Adding organic matter
    c. Cultivating the soil
    d. Encouraging the biodiversity of the soil
  8. What determines the size of the shoots?
    Select one:
    a. Winter pruning
    b. High disease levels
    c. Trimming the vines in summer
    d. The trellis design
  9. What is the most common type of cutting used in commercial vine propagation?
    Select one:
    a. Leaf cutting
    b. Root cuttings
    c. Soft wood cutting
    d. Hardwood cuttings
  10. How is Pierce’s disease spread in vines?
    Select one:
    a. Through pruning wounds by equipment that carries the disease
    b. Germinates and spreads with rainfall or stagnant water
    c. Glassy winged sharpshooter
    d. From infected rootstocks that are not certified
  11. Which of the following forests grow oak that is more tannic and looser grained?
    Select one:
    a. Limousin
    b. Tronçais
    c. Allier
    d. Vosges
  12. Which trellis system does NOT have a divided canopy?
    Select one:
    a. Vertical shoot positioning (VSP)
    b. Scott-Henry
    c. Geneva double curtain (GDC)
    d. Lyre system

How are your studies going? Do you like learning about viticulture and winemaking? 🍷

2 thoughts on “My journey towards WSET Diploma, part 1 – D1 (previous Unit 2), Wine production”

  1. Pingback: My journey towards WSET Diploma, part 3 – D5 (previous Unit 6) – Fortified wines – WineUni

  2. Pingback: Resources to pass WSET Diploma D1 (Previous Unit 2), Wine production – WineUni

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