Sonoma State University’s Wine Spectator Learning Center Recognized by Sichel Family Foundation

The Wine Business Institute (WBI) in the School of Business and Economics (SBE) at Sonoma State University (SSU) announced support for the newly opened Wine Spectator Learning Center in the form of a $100,000 contribution from the Sichel Family Foundation in honor of legendary vintner and author, Peter M.F. Sichel and his significant contributions as an innovator and pioneer in the global wine industry. The Sichel Family Foundation’s contribution will help support education programs at the Wine Business Institute, such as the Online Certificate in Wine Business Management and new Hybrid Executive MBA in Wine Business.

Education has always been important to our family,” said Bettina Sichel, President of Laurel Glen Vineyard and daughter of Mr. Sichel, “so we see investing in the future generation of wine industry leaders, by supporting the Wine Spectator Learning Center, as a fitting recognition of the lessons that my father learned while building one of the first global wine brands.” Peter Sichel, a fourth-generation wine merchant, built Blue Nun into one of the first wine brands sold internationally and at its peak, in the 1970’s, in over 80 countries.

“The Sichel Family Foundation continues a tradition of support for higher education and global partnerships by stepping forward with this generous gift,” said Ray Johnson, Executive Director of the Wine Business Institute in the School of Business and Economics at Sonoma State University. “We’re fortunate to have the opportunity to recognize the extraordinary leadership of Peter M.F. Sichel and his many achievements that laid the groundwork for today’s global wine business.”

Following his imprisonment and escape from Nazi Germany, and years working as a strategist and spy for the U.S., Mr. Sichel re-joined the wine industry in 1960 to bring Blue Nun wines to the United States and United Kingdom. Working with his cousin, Sichel built the brand into an international wine icon selling more than 1.25 million cases annually in the United States alone. In 2016, Mr. Sichel published his memoir The Secrets of My Life: Vintner, Prisoner, Soldier, Spy (Archway Publishing).

For more information regarding the Wine Spectator Learning Center or our advanced degree and certificate programs, please visit, or contact us at (707) 664-3235 or