SSU, Bordeaux in MBA partnership

April 25, 2011

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. [see related story]

This fall Sonoma State University’s Wine Business Institute plans to launch a three-level online Wine Business Management Certificate series of courses.

For several years at various wine industry conferences across the country, institute faculty members have heard from professionals interested in course information and completion certificates, but are unable to relocate to the North Bay to pursue it, according to Director Ray Johnson.

“It’s the next natural point of growth for us,” he said. “People in other countries have heard of us, too, and time zones would not be an issue.”

Institute faculty and industry partners would teach the courses. Books would be available from the university bookstore or online retailers. Recorded lectures and tutorials as well as course materials could be downloaded via the university’s distance-learning system, which also will allow for interaction between participants and instructors.

The institute has an eight-course certificate program that has grown out of professional education courses for tasting room and wine hospitality management. But now the program is expanding to cover more aspects of wine business.

The first online offering is set to be a 16-hour introductory, or “foundation” level, course over four weeks. It covers the basics of global wine commerce, the path from grape to bottle to consumers around the world and principles of wine marketing. This course would be offered in fall and spring.

A 24-hour, eight-week intermediate-level online course is set for launch in spring 2012. It will brief participants on business issues related to viticulture; enology; how to craft a business strategy, including marketing, branding, distribution, public relations, sales and exporting; and industry-specific nuances in finance, accounting, supply-chain management and human resources.

Based on demand, there would be a 48-hour advanced course over 16 weeks. Participants would split the time between two of three electives: production and quality in the wine supply chain, strategic wine marketing and global wine e-commerce.

Those who complete each course level can opt to sit for a certificate exam. Receiving all three certificates will shave one year off the institute’s requirement for two years of industry experience before admission to the university’s wine MBA program.

The fees for the courses are still being finalized but are expected to range from $500 to $1,000, depending on the level. Certification exams would be extra.

For more information, call 707-664-2260 or visit