Log In / Join Now

Wine Spectator Foundation Donates $3 Million to Sonoma State University

Money will fund new learning center for Wine Business Institute's undergrad and graduate programs

Posted: July 6, 2014

Wine is bottled poetry. It's also a global industry, with $44 billion in sales in the United States alone this past year. To help train wine’s leaders of tomorrow, the Wine Spectator Scholarship Foundation has pledged a $3 million gift to Sonoma State University and its Wine Business Institute. The money will go toward construction of the Wine Spectator Learning Center, a new home for the institute.

“Sonoma State University has taken a leadership position in wine business education, a specialized but important field that deserves support,” said Marvin R. Shanken, Wine Spectator editor and publisher. “The potential benefits to the wine industry are enormous. We are pleased to be able to help the university and its students achieve their goals.”

Located in Rohnert Park, in the heart of Sonoma County, SSU’s Wine Business Institute was founded in 1996, the first academic program in the United States to offer degrees focused exclusively on the business aspects of the wine industry. Last year, more than 600 people from around the country studied in the program, most working toward either a B.S. in Wine Business Strategies or an M.B.A. in Wine Business.

SSU, part of the California State University system, also offers an array of professional seminars and certificates for the industry on relevant topics such as accounting and finance, wine sales and marketing. Since 2012, it has conducted online education for professionals in a dozen countries.

The Wine Spectator Scholarship Foundation has raised more than $20 million to support wine and food education and scholarship programs over the past 30 years. Foundation beneficiaries have included students at the University of California at Davis Department of Viticulture & Enology, the Culinary Institute of America, Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration and Florida International University’s Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management.

"Wine Spectator is the premier media brand in education for the wine industry, and Sonoma State University is a global leader in wine business education and research,” said Ruben Armiñana, president of Sonoma State University. “This is a great pairing of two world-class education partners.”

Upon completion, the new learning center at SSU will offer more than 14,500 square feet of space for instruction and student activities. There will be three dedicated classrooms, a student commons with areas for collaboration and student-run businesses, and an industry center with space for professional and academic faculty and program leadership. “Students, faculty, industry professionals and alumni will jointly collaborate in programs and on projects that will support the short- and long-term success of the wine industry,” said William Silver, dean of the School of Business and Economics, which includes the Wine Business Institute.

Construction on the facility is expected to begin in late 2015 and finish in the summer of 2016. Discussions are also under way on programming and educational collaborations between Sonoma State University and M. Shanken Communications, Inc., the parent company of Wine Spectator.

Sketch by TLCD Architecture

The planned Wine Spectator Learning Center at Sonoma State University.

Jolene Patterson
Sonoma County California —  July 7, 2014 1:39pm ET
Cudos to your continued support of education programs! “Wine Spectator is the premier media brand in education for the wine industry, and Sonoma State University is a global leader in wine business education and research,” said Ruben Armiñana, university president. “This is a great pairing of two world-class education partners.” I agree!
Carl Gorenberg
Pleasanton  —  July 7, 2014 4:34pm ET
Amazing news for SSU!
Matilde Parente
Indian Wells, Calif. —  July 18, 2014 7:48pm ET
This is great news - thanks to the donors and all involved.
Austin Beeman
Maumee, Ohio —  July 20, 2014 3:49pm ET
As a student in the Wine MBA program - Thank you!

Would you like to comment? Want to join or start a discussion?

Become a WineSpectator.com member and you can!
To protect the quality of our conversations, only members may submit comments. Member benefits include access to more than 315,000 reviews in our Wine Ratings Search; a first look at ratings in our Insider, Advance and Tasting Highlights; Value Wines; the Personal Wine List/My Cellar tool, hundreds of wine-friendly recipes and more.

WineRatings+ app: Download now for 340,000+ ratings.