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Sonoma State Graduate Students Find Innovative Opportunities to Serve the Wine Industry

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May 24th – Rohnert Park, CA – Sonoma State University Global Executive Wine MBA students identify sustainability, technology, and operational solutions for the wine industry. The students addressed issues and needs related to COVID-19 and wine business growth opportunities as part of their spring 2021 capstone course. The projects include creative business ideas such as SommMobile, a mobile wine shop, Wineu, a wine shopping assistance app, and a technology-focused vineyard and winery expansion plan. A full list and descriptions of the capstone projects can be found here.

“In their capstone projects, our MBA students developed some creative solutions to challenges that the wine industry is facing right now. We’re excited to see our MBA graduates engage and innovate as they become the future leaders of the industry,” said Soo Haylett, executive director of the Graduate & Executive Programs in the School of Business and Economics at SSU.

Master sommelier Dana Farner’s SommMobile, which recently won the most innovative prize at the SSU Seawolf Pitch Competition in April, provides sommelier-led online tastings and on-site wine experiences. Kelli Hodges’ Wineu app also seeks to enhance the consumer experience by making the wine buying process a breeze while giving wine brands a platform to create visibility for their products.

“The app enables consumers to get wine recommendations that fit their preferences right at their fingertips while in the shopping aisle, so they spend less time browsing and more time enjoying wines,” said Hodges, a wine compliance professional. “I wanted to design something that would help people like me whose background in wine is primarily as a consumer. On the other hand, wine brands can influence and capitalize on customers’ buying decisions in real-time instead of losing a sale because of overwhelming options.”

Kory Burke’s expansion project focused on differentiating Gelfand Vineyard from the competition by meeting the needs of current Baby Boomer wine club members and expanding to Gen X, Millennials, and Gen Z markets. The growth plan includes a technology-focused approach to customer relationship management and marketing operations, and an emphasis on environmental and sustainability-conscious business practices.

“The capstone effort was an opportunity to apply the knowledge I had learned towards our recently acquired vineyard in Paso Robles, California. I was able to build out a pre-acquisition and post-acquisition growth plan and apply it directly to a real-world effort,” said Burke, owner and winemaker at Gelfand Vineyards. “The Global Executive Wine MBA program gave me many of the tools needed to properly plan and account for all the business related aspects of creating a path towards running this new vineyard, especially from a financial and industry evaluation standpoint.”

Applications are now open for the Global Executive Wine MBA, an online program with in-person residentials in France, Australia, and the U.S. Seats are limited and individuals who apply by June 30, 2021 will receive first priority review for Fall 2021. More information about the program can be found at http://sbe.sonoma.edu/mba/sonoma-emba-wine-business.

For more information about the Global Executive Wine MBA or our other degree and certificate programs, please visit https://sbe.sonoma.edu/winebiz.

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