Zin group establishes $500,000 scholarship endowment for SSU wine program

ROHNERT PARK – Rough & Ready-based Zinfandel Advocates & Producers in Nevada County has established a $500,000 scholarship endowment for the Sonoma State University Wine Business Institute’s MBA program to honor the zinfandel organization founder Donn Reisen.

“By providing a worthy and needy student with funds to pursue an MBA degree from the SSU Wine Business Institute, the Donn P. Reisen Scholarship seeks to memorialize the contributions Donn made to the advancement of the California wine industry and to the enhancement of people's understanding and appreciation for fine wine the world over,” said Julie Ann Kodmur, spokeswoman for Zinfandel Advocates & Producers.

“At a time when our industry was still in its formative years and led by a collection of dreamers, people the world over craved contact with the people living these dreams, and Donn was our evangelist - his natural warmth, intelligence and generosity allowed him to connect with people in a deep and very personal way. These relationships helped pave the way forward for our entire industry, including every member of ZAP,” said Ms. Kodmur said. Mr. Reisen died earlier this year.

The Sonoma State University Wine Business Institute’s MBA program allows students to continue their work in the wine industry during the day while attending classes at night. The Wine Business MBA is accredited by AACSB and is the only MBA of its kind in the country.

Marilyn Reisen, wife of Mr. Reisen; Nicole Buttita of Ridge Vineyards; Greg Ralston, former managing director of Chateau Montelena; Lynne Barnard, president of Klinker Brick; and Rebecca Robinson, executive director of Zinfandel Advocates & Producers came up with the scholarship as a way to honor his memory.  They chose Sonoma State University because there is currently not a scholarship program there, and Mr. Reisen was a graduate of a California State University.

The $500,000 endowment will be funded over the next three to five years and will result in approximately $20,000 per year for scholarships.

The zinfandel group's primary objectives and purposes are to advance the state of education of the public in the growing of wine grapes and the manufacture and use of wines with emphasis upon the unique contribution of the zinfandel grape grown in America.

The group will provide the appropriate nonprofit mechanism to receive and disburse the funds collected for the scholarship program.

Anyone interested in contributing to this scholarship can contact ZAP directly. Visit for more information.

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