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Sonoma State's Wine Business Institute Names Ray Johnson as New Director

Posted on August 25, 2010

Ray Johnson, one of California's most admired wine educators and industry experts, has been named to head Sonoma State University's Wine Business Institute. Johnson has been teaching and writing about wine while serving as Assistant Director of the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.

“His involvement in building the Chronicle’s Wine Competition into the largest competition of American wine in the world has enabled Ray to forge partnerships with key wine industry leaders. We look forward to building on those relationships as SSU becomes the place where the business of wine happens,” stated William Silver, dean of the School of Business and Economics.

Johnson's background and contacts span well beyond California's borders. His work in the VESTA alliance as well as with his company – TasteWine - has led to teaching seminars from San Francisco to New York. His international experience in Australia, Europe, Canada, and South Africa will increase the Institute’s connections to wineries across the globe.

“Sonoma State’s Wine Business Institute has a tremendous track record of success. Its graduates have key taken positions in steering the wine industry in California and across the nation and its faculty have informed important issues in the business of wine through their original research and international publications. It is truly an honor to represent the Institute as its new director,” Johnson said.

“As we shape the strategy for our next 15 years I’ll be meeting with key wine, tourism and regional leaders. While the Institute’s breadth is international, we want to be sure that our efforts are supporting the success of our neighbors close to home with relevant research and education for the next wave of wine leadership and entrepreneurism,” explained Johnson.

Johnson has spent the last decade-plus teaching and writing about wine. He is currently working on a new book with SSU Professor Liz Thach called "Wine Commerce: How wine is distributed and sold around the world," which will serve as the text for a class in the Institute’s new online certification program.

“The wine industry is a major driver in our economy. We have a great opportunity to enhance our role as an active and practical partner, contributing tangible value to the industry and to our regional economy,” Johnson concluded.

Members of the industry and the public are invited to meet Johnson at a wine and cheese tasting for SSU alumni, parents and friends on October 2, 2010 from 4:00 – 6:00 p.m. The event is organized by the SSU Alumni Association and the Wine Business Institute Alumni Council. Proceeds from a silent auction will benefit the Institute. For tickets, please visit Events at

Region: California, USA

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