State Logo Sonoma County, CA – The Sonoma State University Wine Institute announces the celebration of its 25th anniversary to highlight the Institute’s legacy as a pioneer in wine industry education and research. In 1998, WBI was the first in the United States to offer an undergraduate degree with a concentration in wine business, followed by the Wine MBA in 2008 and the Executive Wine MBA in 2012. The Institute awarded 1 196 diplomas in the wine sector, including bachelor’s and master’s degrees, and 551 certificates. The Institute’s faculty have published more than 700 articles. Celebrating achievements, Looking Ahead highlights the year when the Wine Institute reflects on the past 25 years and begins a new strategic plan. More information about the 25th anniversary of the Institute can be found here.

The 25th anniversary is an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of the Institute of Wine Commerce and look to the future, says Dr. Jean-François Cogé, Dean of the School of Business and Economics. I look forward to discovering new ways in which the Wine Trade Institute can benefit the wine industry, including promoting diversity, equality and inclusion.

It is a celebration of the partnerships and many stakeholders who have made our vision of exemplary business education and wine research possible. Our faculty, board members and all those who have supported our mission with their time, talent and resources have made our achievements possible. It is also a celebration of our students and graduates whose many professional accomplishments enhance the reputation of the Institute today and in the future in the many places where they work and thrive in the wine industry, said Ray Johnson, executive director of SSU’s Wine Business Institute.

Today, WBI has alumni in all areas of the wine industry, from Claire Hobday, CFO of C. Mondavi & Family, to Nate Weiss, Vice President of Viticulture for Silver Oak Cellars & Twomey Cellars, to Shannon Donnell, Producer Relations and Vineyard Manager for Sonoma-Cutrer Vineyards.

Congratulations to the Institute of Wine Commerce on its 25th anniversary. I am proud to be a graduate of this innovative institution at Sonoma State University, Hobday said. I would not have gotten my current position as CFO at C. Mondavi & Family had I not been so well connected and educated through the Executive Wine MBA program.

In 1996, Walt Klenz and I met with Reuben Armignana, then president of SBU, and Larry Clark, dean of SBU, because we had a great need for a business. Together, we have developed a vision to shape the future leaders of the wine industry, says Gary Heck, owner of F. Korbel & Bros. and chairman of the WBI Board of Directors. In just 25 years, the Wine Business Institute has surpassed our vision of becoming an intellectual and resource center for students and industry.

Twenty-five years includes some significant milestones:

  • The Wine Spectator Learning Center will open in 2018.
  • 500,000 plus the scholarship obtained so far.
  • 10,400 registrations for wine merchant training courses
  • 980 licensees in the wine sector
  • 216 holders of a master’s degree in wine management

The Winery Institute has much to celebrate and is one of the jewels of Sonoma State University, says Sonoma State University President Judy Sakaki. From partnering with industry to provide quality education and research on the wine business to creating opportunities for high caliber students and those without the necessary resources, the Wine Business Institute is at the forefront of creating social change at SSU and in our global community.

About the Wine Institute

The Wine Business Institute serves as an intellectual and industrial center for professors, students and the business community. The WBI was established in 1996 as a partnership between the wine industry and Sonoma State University’s School of Business and Economics. The WBI provides cutting-edge research that informs policy, industry best practices, and educational programs. The WBI offers online and face-to-face certifications for the winery and industrial certifications. For more information on our wine trade research programs or degrees and certificates, please contact us at [email protected], or visit


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