The Wine Business Institute at Sonoma State University hosted the first ever Global Wine Business Education Conference. 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.
Dr. Huiqin Ma of China discusses the current trends and prospects in the wine industry within her country.
One of the purposes of the conference was to harness the collective research and curricula of the most eminent wine business scholars throughout the world. With extraordinary dynamics occurring in all aspects of wine business, both in the US and throughout the world, leaders of the North Coast wine industry gathered with the educators to better define research and educational priorities.
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 in recent years rapidly expanded vineyard acres planted and wine produced, have seen the value of their wines drop. Emergence in retail consolidation and new taste preferences among wine consumers were also noted. Additionally there has been an almost universal increase in direct to consumer sales, sales to Millennials and internet sales.
The participants of thirteen countries collaborated with Sonoma State faculty
and staff on the future of global wine business education.
One of the themes that emerged from the North Coast 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.”
Peter Mondavi Jr. of Charles Krug and Tom Klein of Rodney Strong
discuss the skills they look for in wine industry managers.
This theme was reinforced at the executives’ 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.
In the closing session the educators committed to collaborate across countries and universities in the creation of new teaching cases on wine business, sharing curricula and internship opportunities as well as conducting cross national research surveys. Monitoring alumni of wine business programs and tracking progress over their careers was another concrete commitment to benchmark progress of wine business education.
Conference participants applauded Sonoma State’s foresight in convening this gathering and openly discussing the need for collaboration in developing the global wine business professional of the future. “I enjoyed the diversity of all the participants and the very pragmatic approach from the owners and executives. I am excited that we were able to come up with concrete conclusions and decisions for moving forward,” stated Dr. Pierre Mora of France’s Bordeaux School of Management. Dean Silver of Sonoma State’s School of Business and Economics thanked Anisya and Lynn Fritz of Lynmar Estate for catalyzing and sponsoring the conference: “They saw a need in the industry and not only sponsored the conference, but gave of their time and experience to help develop, organize, and lead the conference program.”
Conference proceedings will be published in the near future. Please contact Jessica Heing to be notified of their publication and presentation or for more information about the activities of Sonoma State’s Wine Business Institute: 707-664-3347 or firstname.lastname@example.org.