First U.S. Wine M.B.A. Program Launched

Sonoma State University program first of its kind.

Sonoma State officials say although there are similar programs in Europe and Australia, their new Master of Business Administration with an emphasis in wine business is the first in the nation.

"The wine industry has done a great job of building a high-quality product, but when it comes to actually learning how to manage in the marketplace, the industry has been relatively unsophisticated," declares Mack Schwing, director of the Wine Business Program at the Santa Rosa-based state university.

Schwing says the wine industry should study the lesson plan of other consumer-oriented companies who have learned how to sell in a mass market. "The wine industry needs to have a far greater understanding of how to make their packaging more friendly, and get their product out in front of people in a way that appeals to them," Schwing says, adding, "This is not just for big wineries. Small wineries also need expertise in things like how to sell direct to consumers, set up a Web site, market to restaurant chains." He expects the program, set to begin this fall, to attract mid-level managers, such as marketing, finance and sales directors, who are already working in the wine industry, and are eager to increase their competitiveness against MBAs in other fields who have been imported from outside the industry.

The program will consist of 10 basic courses, which the typical student could complete in two years.  

Funded through a unique public-private partnership, the program's sponsors include Diageo, Korbel, Gallo, Girard and J. Lohr, as well as the Wine Institute.

Click here for more information. Students interested in fall 2007 classes are encouraged to apply no later than July 13 by contacting Linda Nowak (, M.B.A. Coordinator for the School of Business and Economics; 707.664.3954. 

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