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Sonoma State Convenes 1st Global Conference on Wine Business Education

April 28, 2012 10:44 AM

With changing industry conditions, winery owners confirm solid business skills and market knowledge essential to industry's success.

April 28, 2012

North Coast, CA - The Wine Business Institute at Sonoma State University hosted the first ever Global Wine Business Education Conference to identify emerging changes in the wine industry and the core skills and capabilities that the wine business professional of the future will need. Academic leaders from Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, China, England, France, Germany, Italy, New Zealand, South Africa and Spain joined the faculty and staff from Sonoma State in lively discussions over two days.

Participants described seismic shifts in consumption and distribution around the world. Per capita consumption in traditional markets such as France, Spain and Italy has dropped significantly while countries like Canada, the United States and China are seeing growth.

Primarily export-oriented countries such as Australia, New Zealand and Chile, which rapidly expanded vineyard acres planted and wine produced, have seen the value of their wines drop. Additionally there are has been an almost universal increase in direct to consumer sales, sales to Millennials and internet sales.

120427_mondavi_ssu_winebizedconf_w.jpgOne of the themes that emerged from the owners' panel, which included Lynn Fritz of Lynmar Estate, Jeff O'Neill of Ram's Gate, Peter Mondavi Jr. of Charles Krug and Tom Klein of Rodney Strong, was that there has been a shift in focus from product to sales, increasing the importance of the wine business professional in the value chain of wine. Peter Mondavi noted that it was important to have "the wisdom of the market, getting the wine in the bottle is easy to do." The owners felt that it was important to get viticulturists and enologists to think more systematically. Tom Klein of Rodney Strong added, "you have to blow up the silos and learn all the different aspects of the business."

This theme was reinforced at the managers panel which included Joel Miller of Jackson Family Wines, Nancy Bailey of Gary Farrell Winery, Tom Blackwood of Boisset Family Estates, Abigail Smyth of Heck Estates and Michael Holden of Treasury Wine Estates. The panelists noted the need for wine business educators to train, educate and develop the future workforce, to deal with uncertainty, develop business models, and navigate cross-functional and cross cultural management.

Please contact Jessica Heing at 707-664-3347 or with questions.

120427_oneill_fritz_ssu_winebizedconf_w.jpgJeff O'Neill of Ram's Gate and Lynn Fritz of Lynmar Estate discuss the importance of scale and "family matters" in how one successfully manages large and small size operations. Download hi-res version.

120427_mondavi_klein_ssu_winebizedconf_w.jpgDuring the "Owner's Panel" at the 1st Global Wine Business Education Conference, Tom Klein of Rodney Strong noted the need for "street smarts."  Download hi-res version.

120427_mondavi_ssu_winebizedconf_w.jpgPeter Mondavi of Charles Krug noted that industry managers and leaders need "the wisdom of the market...Getting wine in the bottle is the easy part to do."  Download hi-res version.

120427_afritz_johnson_silver_ssu_winebizedconf_w.jpgRay Johnson of Sonoma State's Wine Business Institute (L), William Silver of Sonoma State's School of Business and Economics (R) listen as conference co-chair Anisya Fritz of Lynmar Estate makes a point during the "Owner's Panel."  Download hi-res version. 

120427_safrica_presents_sss_winebizedconf_w.jpgEducators from South Africa, China, France, and elsewhere joined Sonoma State Wine Business Institute faculty and industry leaders to evaluate current practices and market needs for wine business education.  Download hi-res version. 


Dr. Huiqin Ma from China presents the latest growth trends in wine consumption and production in China.  Download hi-res version.





Wine business leaders and educators from around the world gathered for the 1st global conference on wine business education, convened by Sonoma State Unviersity's Wine Business Instuitute  Download the hi-res version.

About Sonoma State University's Wine Business Institute:

Sonoma State University's Wine Business Institute is located in the heart of California wine country and was created through a public-private partnership between the university and the wine industry. Founded in 1995, it is the first program in the United States to offer undergraduate and graduate degrees focused exclusively on the business aspects of the wine industry. In addition to its academic programs that include the first undergraduate and graduate degrees with a concentration in wine business, the Wine Business Institute offers an array of professional development courses for the industry. Its faculty members are published experts, active researchers, and requested presenters on pressing industry topics.  The Wine Business Institute operates within Sonoma State's School of Business and Economics, a fully accredited AACSB institution.  Learn more at

Contact SBE
Contact SSU
Sonoma State University School of Business and Economics. Reach.
1801 East Cotati Avenue, Rohnert Park, CA, 94928 • 707-664-2377 10844