Wine Rows

News for March 2011

Upcoming events

sbe_wcn_sarahstudent.jpgMark your calendars for April 7, when we will hold our Spring Mixer for the wine industry and our students in the School of Business and Economics.  Enjoy a glass of wine with your friends and colleagues and meet our current students.  Stop by after work, even if only for 30 minutes on Thursday, April 7, between 5:00 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.  Bring a bottle of wine to share and please RSVP by March 28 to  A map and parking information will be emailed to you.

Students' Success

head_kendal.jpgOur alumni are always the greatest measure of our success.  Kendal Georgeson, who will be featured in an upcoming ad campaign recruiting students into our graduate programs, is one such example.  Kendal chose to get her MBA because she wanted the balance of wine education and the challenge of the classroom.  "I also wanted the opportunity to be surrounded by faculty and students that had similar interests and wine knowledge.  I chose SSU because they are the only U.S. school that offers a Wine Business MBA and because they are based right in the heart of the wine country."

Kendal points to the value of networking and the relationships she now has with fellow students and faculty.  In fact, she found her current position at Wine Creek LLC (Quivira, La Follette, Torbreck Vintners) through SSU.  "I have to say, the faculty at SSU is great. They are always willing to help you out in any way - whether it is school related or professionally related. Through the MBA program at SSU, I have gained hands-on marketing experience in the classroom that I can directly apply to my position as Marketing Coordinator for Wine Creek LLC. I hope to accomplish career growth and eventually move to a Senior Brand Manager position." 

If you're an alum or would like to connect with them, visit to see how and to share your successes with us. 

Faculty Research

sustainable_bus.jpgSustainability is moving beyond "buzz-word" status and into a demonstrable strategy in the wine industry.  An investigation recently concluded by wine business faculty Tom Atkin, Sandra Newton and Armand Gilinsky gathered empirical data from 99 wineries to evaluate the impact of environmental management systems (EMS) on strategy and performance.  Working in collaboration with the Green Wine Summit, they are seeking to answer relevant questions about the value of EMS for wineries and to provide sustainability benchmarks for the industry.

In preliminary results, wineries with a clear environmental management system (EMS) reported that they had achieved significantly greater cost leadership advantages than those lacking a formal EMS, in areas like supply chain optimization, lower legal and regulatory risk, and greater efficiency among others.

A smaller proportion of respondents reporting a clear business case for EMS showed perceptions of greater differentiation advantages from: (1) enhanced ability to enter new markets, (2) greater operational efficiencies, and (3) positive impact on the next generation to succeed current owners. Issues of inter-generational transfer and succession may induce wineries, particularly family-owned businesses, to adopt EMS best practices.

Full results of the survey will be presented at the Green Wine Summit in November 2011.  You can read the full press release on the preliminary findings in the School of Business's News and Events section

Focus on Development

The Korbel Professorship has been a catalyst in driving interest in our programs, opening conversations about development and how the broader community can benefit from our work. 

ray_zap.jpgEach week we are meeting with leaders throughout the United States to assess the most critical needs of the wine business community.  From the Unified in January, to the Midwest Grape & Wine Conference in February and Wineries Unlimited in March, read more... we're connecting beyond Sonoma to take the pulse of the industry.  And in between these large events, over coffee and at informal gatherings, we're working in concert with the Golden State's most influential drivers of the business of wine.   This input is shaping our existing programs and creating new opportunities to offer educational and research projects in partnership with the industry.

These meetings are also helping to define and enlist the financial support needed to realize our mission, to fund the tools, student services and expanded faculty positions to maintain our pre-eminence in the field of wine business education.  Contact us if you would like assist our efforts, whether by making a financial contribution or by making the introductions to others in the industry who would like to get involved.


Ray Johnson
Director of the Wine Business Institute
School of Business and Economics
Sonoma State University


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1801 East Cotati Avenue, Rohnert Park, CA, 94928 • 707-664-2377