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Sonoma State is Only University to Take Home Multiple Awards at NACRA Conference with Wine Industry Cases

October 24, 2013

Rohnert Park, CA- This past weekend, Sonoma State University made a huge impact at the North American Case Research Association Conference in Victoria, British Columbia. Two of the top awards were won by a faculty team and a team of two recent MBA graduates, making Sonoma State the only university to win multiple awards at this conference.

The faculty team, professors Armand Gilinsky and Sandra Newton, won the Gold Award for Best Conference Case. Kimberley Finnie and Shaun Richardson, the recent MBA alumni, received the Jonathan Welch award for Best Case in Finance and Economics, making them the first students to ever win this award.

“It is very difficult for students to win anything at that conference. They are not just up against other students, but professors as well,” said Gilinsky. Their case, "The Bid to Purchase Rara Avis Vineyards: Has This Bird Flown?," involves the owner of a winery in Sonoma looking to purchase a winery on the Central Coast.

“We were proud of our work before we entered the competition, and it was very exciting to be recognized by such a well-respected organization,” stated Richardson. “We are so grateful to Dr. Gilinsky for the mentorship on this project and encouraging us to submit our case to the conference,” added Finnie.

Professors Gilinsky and Newton’s case, "Naked The 'Sudoku Approach,'" which received the Gold Award for Best Conference Case, explores ideas that could fundamentally change the way wine is produced, marketed and purchased.

Both Gilinsky and Newton were deeply honored by the win. “After they called the bronze and silver winners, I thought to myself ‘they must have someone really good for gold.’ Turns out, all I had to do was look across the table,” Gilinsky explained, referring to professor Newton. Each professor credits the other with being responsible for such a remarkable case and high achievement.

“Writing a case study was totally different from other empirical research that I have done,” explained Professor Newton, who had never written a case before this. “It was harder, but very enjoyable.” Case studies are used by many universities to give students the opportunity to work through real business situations.

“We are a small school that makes a big impact, and we certainly made one at that conference,” said Gilinsky.

About Sonoma State University School of Business and Economics

Sonoma State University School of Business and Economics' vision is to be the educational nucleus of a thriving North Bay economy. Its mission is to create extraordinary learning experiences for our students and to advance best business practices in the North Bay and beyond. Creating a vibrant community, developing a sustainable business model for entrepreneurship in higher education, and developing and delivering innovative programs and processes are express goals for its campus-wide, community-reaching entrepreneurship initiative. With undergraduate, graduate, and executive programs serving over 1,500 students each year and concentrations in Accounting, Finance, Management, Marketing, Wine Business, and Economics, the School offers the most in-demand degree on the Sonoma State campus. The School of Business and Economics is accredited by AACSB (the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business), making it one of 15 percent of all business schools in the world to meet these standards of excellence. For more information, visit

About the North American Case Research Association

The North American Case Research Association (NACRA) is a nonprofit, voluntary professional association whose mission is to promote excellence in case research, writing, and teaching in business and other academic disciplines. NACRA is a collaborative organization of approximately 500 researchers, case writers and teachers, mostly in the business disciplines, who support each other's research and writing efforts.

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