Wine: SSU pilots videoconference wine classes

Wine Business Institute at Sonoma State University ( is expanding its remote-classroom experience, allowing students in Southern California to take their seats electronically in Rohnert Park seminars.

The institute in late March worked with California State University, San Marcos, to include participants there in Tasting Room Management Certificate seminars via video conference. So, students in San Carlos this semester were able to raise their hands and have their questions answered from Rohnert Park.

"It was as if they were in the classroom," said Jessica Heing, Wine Business Institute program coordinator.

San Marcos campus officials asked to tap wine-business expertise at Sonoma State.The collaboration targeted wine industry professionals from Temecula Valley, which has 30-plus wineries and is about a half-hour drive from the San Marcos campus.

Based on the success of the video conference, the Wine Business Institute plans seek other opportunities to share wine business education with regional wine industries.

Four of the eight seminars required to earn the certificate were delivered last week to the San Marcos campus. Topics ranged from state compliance for direct shipping to successful winery events. Participants received a certificate of completion.

Next fall, San Marcos participants will be able to remotely attend four elective seminars to complete the Tasting Room Management Certificate.

Wine Business Institute (707-664-2260, in spring 2012 launched online courses for the Wine Business Management Certificate.***

Sonoma Wine Country Weekend distributed a record-breaking $1,086,350 to 44 Sonoma County nonprofit organizations from the successful 2013 event. That includes more than $700,000 from the Fund the Future initiative to support children's literacy programs, raised during the Sonoma Harvest Wine Auction in September.

Fund the Future beneficiaries include Sonoma Valley Education Foundation, Community Action Partnership: Pasitos Playgroups and United Way: Schools of Hope.

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