Celebrating achievement and looking ahead: The Wine Business Institute celebrates 25 Years on May 31

April 12, 2022

(Rohnert Park, CA) – The Wine Business Institute (WBI) of the School of Business and Economics (SBE) at Sonoma State University will be celebrating its 25th-anniversary event (underwritten by Brown-Forman) on Tuesday, May 31, 2022, from 5:30 to 7:30 pm at the Wine Spectator Learning Center, home to the WBI on the Sonoma State University campus.

Twenty-five years ago, forward-thinking leaders envisioned a new kind of partnership between academia and the wine industry, and the resulting vision became the Wine Business Institute at Sonoma State University. Founded in 1996 as a brainchild of Gary Heck of Korbel Champagne Cellars and Sonoma State, “we wanted to create a program that would prepare the next generation to run our businesses, a viable succession plan for the wine industry. Great grapes and great wine were already the norms. Professionalizing the business of wine was the next frontier to tackle,“ explains Mr. Heck. “Over the past 25 years, our faculty has built the most comprehensive suite of wine business education in the world with the support of our wine industry, generous donors, and board members,” noted Ray Johnson, WBI executive director. “Today, our alumni occupy positions of leadership across the wine industry value chain, in organizations large and small.” 

“The WBI is an exemplar of successful collaboration between industry and academia,” said Jean-Francois Coget, dean of the School of Business and Economics, which hosts the WBI. “We will continue to provide diverse talent for the business side of the wine industry and conduct research and other activities that can help the industry address its keenest opportunities and challenges.”

Sonoma State’s School of Business and Economics is the first in the United States to offer an undergraduate degree (since 1998), an MBA (since 2008), an Executive MBA (since 2012), and a new Global EMBA (since 2020) focused on the business of wine. In addition to the degree programs, the WBI offers professional certifications in subjects such as Wine Business Data Analytics, Wine Business Management, and Wine Entrepreneurship. The institute regularly brings together wine industry leaders to discuss the opportunities and challenges in the current landscape and those on the horizon.

Looking back on the past 25 years, the WBI celebrates three significant achievements: the awarding of 257 Wine MBAs, the launch of the Global Wine EMBA, and the opening of the Wine Spectator Learning Center. Looking ahead to the next 25 years, the WBI will continue to serve the wine industry by developing leaders at every level for companies of every size. By providing the best resources in wine business education and research, the WBI helps to ensure the future successes of the wine industry at large. 


About the Wine Business Institute 

The Wine Business Institute (WBI) serves as an intellectual and industry center for faculty, students, and the business community. Founded in 1996 as a partnership between the wine industry leaders and the School of Business and Economics at Sonoma State University, the WBI provides cutting-edge research that informs industry best practices and program curriculum. For more information about degree and certificate programs or wine business research, please contact winebiz@sonoma.edu, or visit https://sbe.sonoma.edu/winebiz.  

About Sonoma State University School of Business and Economics

The SBE is a leading institution of business education in the San Francisco Bay Area, with an emphasis on preparing students to succeed in an economy that is global in nature. Our commitment to sustainable business, diversity, social justice, and global partnerships echoes our core philosophy of purpose-driven leadership. As one of the 50 top-ranked public universities, we have been recognized worldwide for our investments in diversity, social responsibility, and visionary academics. Many classes average fewer than 40 students, allowing close interaction between students and faculty.