Influential program, formerly at UC, Davis, puts spotlight on universityROHNERT PARK -- Sonoma State University's Wine Business Institute is expanding its reach nationally and internationally, first by making certificate courses available online for far-flung professionals then as one of a three business schools worldwide to be a host site for a traveling wine MBA program.
Sonoma State has forged a partnership with the Bordeaux School of Management to host a cohort of up to a couple dozen students for two weeks of intense coursework and on-site visits to wine operations throughout the North Coast.
The 137-year-old French institution started a wine MBA program in 2001, and it will expand to include the spirits industry next academic year. In addition to classes in Bordeaux, the students travel to partner schools in several countries. For a few years beginning in 2002 and again last year, the U.S. stop for the students has been the University of California at Davis.
[caption id="attachment_33054" align="alignright" width="240" caption="Ray Johnson and Liz Thach"][/caption]
Starting in January 2012, it will be Sonoma State University.
“About 10 years ago when Bordeaux was setting up the wine program, they originally approached Sonoma State University about becoming a partner, but we were not ready yet,” said Liz Thach, Ph.D., professor of management and wine business.
SSU wine business courses go online
April 25, 2011
This fall Sonoma State University’s Wine Business Institute plans to launch a three-level online Wine Business Management Certificate series of courses. [see related story]
Sonoma State’s wine business education program in the School of Business and Economics has been around for 15 years. However, the institution’s wine MBA program, the only one in the U.S. and one of a handful globally, started offering classes only three years ago. Today, the Wine Business Institute has 120 undergraduate students, two dozen in the MBA program and hundreds who take the four-hour Professional Development Series courses annually.
In February 2010 while Dr. Thach was in New Zealand to present an overview of U.S. wine sales at the Fifth International Conference of the Academy of Wine Business Research, she was talking to two Bordeaux School professors. They mentioned that the timeframe for the cohort agreement with U.C. Davis was ending.
"It worked very well, with U.C. Davis delivering very good content, but at quite a high cost not sustainable for us," said Herve Remaud, the Bordeaux School of Management wine MBA academic director since May.
Last fall, Dr. Thach introduced Dr. Remaud to Ray Johnson, who had just been named director of the Wine Business Institute. The two started talking about hosting the Bordeaux School’s cohort at Sonoma State.
“It’s a great opportunity to expose our program around the world,” Mr. Johnson said. “This really helps to bring a spotlight to what we’re doing.”
The development of the Sonoma State's undergraduate and graduate wine business programs and a "strong" research team published in academic and trade journals made the university a good choice as a host site, according to Dr. Remaud. The Wine Business Institute also organized the 2005 Academy of Wine Business Research conference.