Sonoma State University’s Wine Business Institute Celebrates 25 Years

This fall, the Wine Business Institute (WBI) at Sonoma State University, an intellectual and industry center for faculty, students, and the business community, is excited to celebrate 25 years as a pioneer in providing wine business education and research to advance the wine industry. For the last 25 years, the WBI has worked to propel the wine industry with industry-relevant wine business research and cutting-edge continuing education and certificate programs to shape the industry’s leaders. To kick-off the occasion, WBI Executive Director Ray Johnson and Wine Spectator Napa Bureau Chief Kim Marcus will host a virtual conversation to discuss the evolution of and the future for the wine industry at large. Register for the virtual conversation here.

Founded in 1996 as a partnership between the wine industry 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 current and future wine industry business leaders. Founding members include the likes of Gary Heck, Walt Klenz and the late Henry Trione. “Over the past twenty-five years, we have built the most comprehensive suite of wine business education in North America,” noted Ray Johnson. “The program and our curriculum are led by our founding board members who sought to create a program for the next generation of the wine industry. Today our alumni are filling those ranks in organizations large and small.”

Sonoma State is the first in the United States to offer an undergraduate degree (since 1998), an MBA (since 2008), and most recently an Executive MBA (since 2012) focused on the business of wine. In addition to the degree programs, WBI also offers shorter certifications in subjects such as Introduction to Wine Business Data Analytics and Wine Entrepreneurship. The WBI offers programs online and in-person. Each year, they host the WBI Research Summit, bringing together industry professionals and leaders to share the latest findings of their research. “The WBI continues to play a critical role in the California wine Industry, it will be a fascinating part of the evolution of the industry at large,” comments Napa Bureau Chief Kim Marcus.

Looking back on the past 25 years, the Wine Business Institute celebrates a number of milestones including the awarding of 270 Wine MBAs, the opening of the Wine Spectator Learning Center (2018) and numerous professional degrees and certifications awarded. Today, professionals from California and around the world choose WBI as the global leader in wine business education and research, to experience first-hand the expertise and wealth of connections among students, alumni, and industry leaders. Looking ahead at the next 25 years, the Wine Business Institute will continue to serve the wine industry by developing leaders at every level, for wine 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.