Grand Opening of Wine Spectator Learning Center at Sonoma State University Scheduled for May 29

Public Celebration Features Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony for New International Wine Business Education and Research Hub
April 30, 2018
Rohnert Park, California - The School of Business and Economics at Sonoma State University today announced that a Grand Opening event and ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Wine Spectator Learning Center will take place on Tuesday, May 29 from 6 p.m. - 8 p.m. on campus. The event, which is expected to draw over 300 people, celebrates the new headquarters of the Wine Business Institute (WBI), a unique public-private partnership between the School of Business and Economics at SSU and the global wine industry. 
The year-long construction and expansion project transformed the existing University Commons building into a state-of-the-art learning center that includes three advanced-technology classrooms, student commons, café and garden areas, and collaborative spaces for faculty and business leaders. A generous combination of private and naming gifts totaling $11 million were secured for the project. 
"This state-of-the-art center is a true reflection of both the character and business needs of our wine-growing region," said Sonoma State University President Judy K. Sakaki. "My deepest gratitude to all of our generous partners who made this dream come to fruition."
"This innovative new learning center represents two decades of collaboration among public and private individuals and organizations who share our vision to be the global leader in wine business education and research," Interim Dean of the School of Business and Economics, Dr. Karen Thompson, said. "Through the hard work and generosity of our partners, the Wine Business Institute has transitioned to the international stage with a global audience of students who are advancing their careers while supporting the success of the wine industry." 
"This is not only the grand opening of a customized learning environment, it also creates a home for us to execute on our mission to be the educational nucleus of the global wine industry,"Executive Director of the Wine Business Institute, Ray Johnson said. "By bringing together business and community stakeholders from around the world, we expect this new facility will enable even more innovation, more advanced public policies, and better-trained leaders for a changing industry." 
"All of us at Wine Spectator are proud to be part of the success of the Wine Business Institute at Sonoma State University and the grand opening of the Wine Spectator Learning Center," Marvin Shanken, chairman of M. Shanken Communications, Inc., publisher of Wine Spectator magazine said. 
The event will begin with a reception on the main quad in front of the new building, featuring wine from WBI program alumni and board members. Welcome remarks will be provided by SSU President, Judy Sakaki, and Marvin Shanken, chairman of M. Shanken Communications, Inc., publisher of Wine Spectator magazine. Additional remarks will be provided by U.S. Congressman Mike Thompson of California's Fifth District and founder of the Congressional Wine Caucus, and California State Senator Bill Dodd, representing the Third District. Event activities will also include participation by members of the WBI board, alumni, and faculty. Following a ribbon-cutting ceremony, the doors will open for self-guided tours of the new facility.
Construction of the project began on June 1, 2016 with an official groundbreaking ceremony attended by luminaries in government, education, and industry. The May 29 event represents the first official wine community activity held by the WBI in the Wine Spectator Learning Center.  
In addition to the naming gift from the Wine Spectator Scholarship Foundation, the following people and organizations provided generous contributions to benefit the project: 
• Robin and Michelle Baggett of Alpha Omega Winery and Tolosa Winery
• Roy and Rachael Cecchetti of Cecchetti Wine Company
• Wayne Chaplin of Southern Wine & Spirits
• Gerret and Tatiana Copeland of Bouchaine Vineyards
• Alan Dreeben of Republic National Distributing Company
• The Gallo Family of E. & J. Gallo Winery
• The Hamel Family of Hamel Family Wines
• Gary Heck of Korbel Champagne Cellars
• Tom Klein of Rodney Strong Vineyards
• Terry Lindley of American AgCredit
• Wally and Ellie Lowry, Wine Business Professor Emeritus
• Jeff Menashe of Demeter Group
• Charles Merinoff of Breakthru Beverage Group
• The Michael Family of Peter Michael Winery
• Fred Pierce of Pierce Education Properties
• Bill and Eva Price of Price Family Vineyards
• Ron Rubin of The Rubin Family of Wines
• Alex Ryan of Duckhorn Wine Company
• Sonoma State University Enterprises
• Chris and Vern Underwood of Young's Market Company
• 3 additional families who have made anonymous contributions
Media are encouraged to attend. For special considerations, specific interview requests, or assistance coordinating photo/video opportunities, please contact Dan Virkstis at or (707) 664-2831. For general event information, please contact Jessica Pozzi in the Wine Business Institute at or (707) 664-3347.