Wine Rows

Sonoma State Cellars Arrives


The inaugural vintage is sold out!

The Sonoma State Cellars Cuvée is a unique blend of vineyards and varietals from across Sonoma County, selected to showcase the versatility of the North Coast. The blend is 49% Merlot, 26% Carignane, 17% Malbec, 4% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Syrah.
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Contact Jessica Heing at 707-664-3347

Abigail Smythe (MBA '10) and Leah McNally (MBA '11), student team members who completed the first feasibility study, celebrate its launch at the Pick Up Party. Download a high-res version here.



Winemaker Erik Miller (Kokomo Vineyards) provides a barrel tasting for the 2011 Cuvée which will be released in the Spring.
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Guests celebrated with a picnic at Timbercrest Farms. Timbercrest, along with Kokomo, provided the support to make the business idea a reality. Download a high-res version here.

Over the past two years, over a dozen wine business students have worked with the team at Kokomo Winery and Timber Crest Farms in Dry Creek Valley to create the first Sonoma State wine.  The idea for the brand was first considered by a group of four MBA students working with Dr. Armand Gilinsky, Jr.,  Professor of Business at Sonoma State University.  Liza Goldstein, Kendal Georgeson, Abigail Smyth and Leah McNally, who have since graduated and grown in their careers, conducted a feasibility study to assess the viability of the proposed brand during the summer of 2010.  

During the following semester, a second group of MBA students worked with Dr. Gilinsky to develop a business plan for the new venture.  Jacob Avery, Stephanie Gremban, Sean Headden, Kendall Hoxsey, Dylan Karahalios, Marin McElhany, Brian Perkins, Andrew Pimentel and Nick Rood outlined the start-up necessities and a path to sustainability.  At the end of the semester, the students created a 40 page report and delivered their final  presentation to members of the wine business faculty, administration and the wine industry.

Attending the presentation that evening was Erik Miller, owner and winemaker at Kokomo Winery in Dry Creek Valley.  Erik was impressed by the students' enthusiasm and immediately offered his support.  After crush was over, he set aside a barrel of his 2010 Red Cuvée to provide the foundation for the program and the first release of the future Sonoma State Cellars.

Over the course of the following year, he coached the students on the start-up of a winery and the building of the brand.  One of the student team members went on to work with Erik and his assistant winemaker Josh Bartels, while others contributed to the project whenever they could, squeezing in hours between study and work. In the fall of 2011, Ruth Waltenspiel, the proprietor of Timber Crest Farms, hosted a launch party where the students shared their story with a group of 60 friends and supporters.  

Throughout the project, the MBA students were guided by the leaders of the Wine Business Institute Alumni Council, whose members work in key positions throughout the North Coast.  The alumni will provide continuity to the nascent program over successive semesters and generations of students.  With the label approval from the TTB, Sonoma State Cellars is now ready to launch. 

The Sonoma State Cellars Cuvée is a unique blend of vineyards and varietals from across Sonoma County, selected to showcase the versatility of the North Coast. The blend is 49% Merlot, 26% Carignan, 17% Malbec, 4% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Syrah. Read the complete winemaker notes. All proceeds will go to support wine business programs at Sonoma State.

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