Wine Business Institute

Wine Business Institute

Phone: 707-664-3235
SBE Website:

Program Director
Ray Johnson

Program Coordinator
Jessica Pozzi

Asst. Program Coordinator
Erin Ringstad

Reaching to be the global leader in wine business education

Located in the heart of California wine country and created through a partnership between the university and the wine industry, this is the first and only program in the United States to focus exclusively on the business aspects of the wine industry.

The Wine Business Institute operates within the University's School of Business & Economics; a fully accredited AACSB institution. Sonoma State's program offers a specialized curriculum targeted at the business challengers of the wine industry. Courses are offered in Wine Marketing, Wine Finance and Accounting, Human Resource Management, Wine Business Strategies and Wine Production, Operations & Distribution.

We invite you to explore our programs, meet our community, view our faculty research, and - of course - to join us in our work.

Wine Business Institute Seminars

These seminars are open to the public and may be taken individually or together to earn a certificate. The Wine Business Institute offers two industry driven certificate options, Wine Industry Finance and Accounting and Direct to Consumer. To earn the certificate students must complete the required core seminars plus the required number of electives, for a total of eight seminars.

For students wishing to complete both certificates, two electives can be transferred for credit to the second earned certificate.
Each certificate can be completed in one semester or at your own pace.

Direct to Consumer Certificate

This new certificate enables you to take your direct to consumer (DTC) sales to the next level. Taught by wine industry professionals in the various DTC fields, each seminar is designed to provide the individual with core concepts and proven tactics to increase DTC sales in multiple retail channels. Created in response to industry demand for a more tailored and encompassing program, this certificate will expand on topics such as direct to consumer marketing, wine clubs, events, social media, mobile commerce and tasting room sales.

Wine Industry Finance & Accounting Certificate

This program gives an overview of the financial and accounting concepts that will enable you to make better business decisions and advance your career. Taught by wine industry professionals in the finance and accounting fields, each seminar is tailored to provide the individual with core concepts that are presented with wine industry examples, giving you the knowledge to immediately apply those principles to your business or organization.

Wine Business Management Certificate (Online)

The Wine Business Management Certificate is made up of three levels: Foundation, Intermediate and Advanced. Each level builds upon the previous and is designed to challenge participants while creating a superior understanding of wine business operations. Whether you are a current wine industry professional, a business professional wanting to enter the wine industry or a winemaker or viticulturist, or simply interested in learning about the business of wine, the Wine Business Management Certificate is right for you.

Wine Branding Certificate

This course offers a solid, proven theoretical foundation with practical insights to assist managers in their day-to-day and long-term brand decisions. Specifically, a number of key concepts related to brand management such as brand equity, brand portfolio, and brand positioning are incorporated into a series of case studies to optimize students' learning. Furthermore, the course covers the fundamental theories related to strategic branding in the context of the wine business.

Quickbooks: A Comprehensive Application for your Wine Business

Learn how to use Quickbooks® efficiently and effectively to produce meaningful and accurate reports for your wine business. Through this 8-week program you will learn the many features available in order to put a system of procedures in place, and create a customized Quickbooks® program tailored to your specific wine business needs.

Wine Entrepreneurship (Offered Spring 2016)

This course will take a systematic look at the different components of a successful wine brand and assist students in creating a plan for a profitable business in this new environment.

People often think of the wine business in terms of making wine or selling grapes. The complexity of tending to a vineyard or producing wine often overwhelms entrepreneurs looking to start a winery, or the owners of small family businesses in the wine industry. As a result, the journey into wine becomes stressful or chaotic.

The focus of wine entrepreneurship is to provide principals of small wine businesses (or those who aspire to enter the industry) with the space and the time to reflect on their vision. It will aid them in developing a business path for a profitable new product, new business, or career in the wine industry.

Over eight weeks, participants in the seminar will be exposed to key aspects of the wine business, including the regulatory climate for making and selling wine, financial frameworks to develop a vineyard and winery or create a virtual brand, and different models for profitability. You will hear from industry leaders and veterans who will describe their experiences and lessons learned. By the end of the course, every participant will have the tools and frameworks to critically evaluate the competitive landscape and make decisions on a course of action.