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Sonoma State Wine Educators Join Third Annual Wine Business Education Summit


Sonoma State UniversityIn advance of the annual conference of the Academy of Wine Business Research, university leaders and researchers gathered on Friday afternoon in Geisenheim, Germany for the third round of discussions to advance the field of wine business education. This summit builds upon the meeting held last year at Brock University in Ontario and the first summit convened by Sonoma State in 2012.

The general sessions of the summit were moderated by Gergely Szolnoki of Geisenheim University and Ray Johnson of Sonoma State. One of the first of the sessions of the day featured input from wine business alumni working in the wine industry. The wine business graduates described how their education has assisted them in their careers and detailed the competencies necessary for success.

Tobias Meyer of Mack & Schüle related how his studies in product differentiation have helped him in his work – how he must translate wine’s unique selling points compared to other food products when presenting to buyers in retail grocery chains.

Larissa Jungbluth of Reh Kendermann is focused in her work on the countries that are just starting to drink wine; the classes focused on different wine markets around the world were most important for her.

International experience for students was a topic receiving particular attention, with a discussion of broadening the opportunities for students to study and travel in wine regions abroad. Evelyn Pabst, a current student at Geisenheim worked on the U.S. launch of Mionetto Prosecco in New York. She noted that while going abroad was perhaps the most challenging year for her it was also the year in which she gained a wealth of practical knowledge.

Many students who do not have time for a traditional semester abroad program are interested in shorter, intensive programs so that they can have the experience but not slow their progress toward a degree. The positive and long-term impact of these programs is so strong that a number of universities are now requiring that their students participate in not only travel abroad but instead a structured internship abroad.

Collaborating on research from a distance, among both faculty and students was also discussed, in an effort to broaden the sharing of the latest discoveries and best practices across wine regions around the world.

Following the general sessions, workshops focused on case studies, wine tourism, wine marketing and consumer behavior. The wine tourism session was moderated by Liz Thach of Sonoma State and Natalia Velikova of Texas Tech where the important economic impact of wine tourism and its benefits to agricultural regions was underscored. Today, wine tourism has usurped traditional leisure activities like golf and skiing in regions across the world.

The wine marketing session was moderated by Armando Corsi of the University of South Australia and Hervé Remaud of Kedge Business School. The discussion underscored that while as an industry we have lots of research and understanding about consumers in the off-premise channel, we have limited understanding and much work to do in the on-premise and online channels to better understand the way consumers behave.

The session on case studies, moderated by Armand Gilinsky of Sonoma State and Tatiana Bouzdine Chameeva of Kedge Business School, presented the results of a survey of 118 case authors who have taught over 6,000 wine business students. More than half of the respondents favor an online, downloadable format of cases rather than the traditional print versions, which have the benefit of facilitating the inclusion of digital content in the product.

The participants in the workshop seconded this idea, deciding that cases going forward should be available online and that the market would decide the quality of cases submitted, based on usage. Open access would also benefit the wine industry and allow for the broadest dissemination of the lessons learned in the case studies.

Gilinsky presented his experience with writing cases about Ceja Vineyards and Frog’s Leap Winery and their practical use in education. He noted that while a case study is a factual story it is also a teaching tool that encourages active learning, providing the realism of the wine industry for the students in the university classroom.

The 8th international conference of the Academy of Wine Business Research, following on the heels of the educational summit, is titled Selling Wine Successfully in the XXI Century. Links to the key findings and an overview of the presentations can be found online: AWBR_Program.pdf

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