Wine Business Institute at Sonoma State University (sonoma.edu/sbe/wine-business-institute) 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, sonoma.edu/winebiz) 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.

In addition, more than $385,000 in Sonoma Wine Country Weekend Community Grants ranging from $2,000--$15,000 were awarded to 41 charitable groups located across Sonoma County.

Last year's contributions to Fund the Future and Community Grants from the 2012 event totaled of $483,500, reflecting a 55 percent increase in revenues for 2013.***

Napa Valley Grapegrowers selected Mary Maher, vineyard manager of Harlan Estate, as the 2014 Napa Valley Grower of the Year. She will be honored for her broad contributions to Napa Valley agriculture and the community on May 16 at the trade group's 39th annual dinner at Artesa Winery in Napa.

[caption id="attachment_90348" align="alignleft" width="320"] Mary Maher was named 2014 Grower of the Year by Napa Valley Grapegrowers.[/caption]

She has spent 30 years working Napa Valley vineyards. She was an early leader in organic farming. She joined Harlan in 2001 and developed its in-house vineyard farming and development company, now employing more than 50 who oversee vines supplying the Harlan, The Napa Valley Reserve and Promontory labels.

Ms. Maher held a seat on the Napa Valley Grapegrowers board of directors for nine years, chaired the annual Napa County Pruning Contest for 12 years and has been an active member of the trade association's Industry Issues and Harvest STOMP committees for six-plus years.

She represented the industry on the Napa County Pest & Disease District board and was president and a board member of the Carneros Quality Alliance and the Napa Valley Vineyard Technical Group.

A role model and mentor for women in the industry, she participates in the International Women in Cabernet Association and St. Helena Ag Boosters.

Nominations for award come from among Napa Valley Grapegrowers' 685 members, and the recipient is chosen by past presidents of the organization and current committee members. Award criteria are a strong commitment to sustainable practices, recognized leadership in agricultural preservation, dedicated community focus, contributions to the Napa Valley community and active promotion of Napa's reputation for the highest-quality vineyards.***

Hall Wines in St. Helena will serve as the host site for 2014 season of CellarPassTV series. The season premiere April 2 is set to kick off with host Sarah Elliman, CellarPass co-founder, and will feature acclaimed Hall Wines winemaker Steve Leveque. CellarPass, an online and mobile reservations and ticketing platform for wine country tasting and event experiences, will broadcast from Hall, its new studio home and partner. The series will bring together wine aficionados, bloggers and professionals through an interactive broadcast utilizing Facebook and Twitter social media....

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