More than 11,000 people have signed up to a new version of a free online wine course run by the University of Adelaide in Australia.

Around 11,300 students signed up to the latest University of Adelaide online wine course, starting 7 July.

More than 50,000 people from almost 160 countries have signed up since the programme began – mostly from the US, UK and Australia.

‘Consumers are more interested in knowing about the wines they’re drinking,’ said Kerry Wilkinson, associate professor of oenology at the University of Adelaide.

She added that many in the wine trade have also signed up.

‘We completely overlooked the fact that there is a whole range of people who work in the industry – from administrative roles, to wine marketing, sommeliers in bottle shops and restaurants – that need expertise.’

The course, named World of Wine: From Grape to Glass Mooc (massive open online course), includes a virtual field trip to the Yalumba winery in Barossa Valley.

‘The majority of people are not going to have the opportunity to walk through a vineyard, let alone a commercial winery in full vintage,’ said Wilkinson.

Related content:

Surprise trade following

‘We’re [already] in the business of training future viticulturalists and winemakers.

‘We thought this is not a course that winemakers will do because there’s obviously no hands-on winemaking, or working in a vineyard,’ said Wilkinson.

But, this has been proved wrong. ‘Many cellar door managers have been getting their staff to do it [so that they can] speak more confidently and knowledgeably about growing grapes and making wine.’

Wine is opening up

Wilkinson said that she was pleased to see interest from average consumers.

‘Consumers are becoming more adventurous. They also want to understand why this wine costs $50 and this one costs $20 but they’re the same grape variety from the same region,’ she said.

Celebrity status

‘I’ve been to bars and shops in Adelaide and had a handful of people go: ‘I know you, aah, you’re Kerry from the wine Mooc,’ said Wilkinson.

‘I’ve not quite got to the stage of signing autographs but it’s nice to know people locally have been doing the course,’ she said.

Editing by Chris Mercer.