Wine Business Institute Announces 2020 Scholarship Winners

July 30, 2020
Rohnert Park, CA – Wine Business Institute scholarship recipients were recently recognized at a virtual meeting with the WBI board of directors, donors, and School of Business and Economics leadership. A total of $44,150 was awarded to undergraduate and graduate winners, including Global Wine Executive MBA student Kelli Silva, trade relations specialist at Trinchero Family Estates; Wine Executive MBA students Caitlin Vartain, brand manager at WX Brands, Marcia Torres Forno, winemaker at Matanzas Creek, Fabian Jauregui, former account executive at Ferrero Rocher, and Emily Porter, business operations manager at Sonoma State University; Wine MBA student Fiona Fang; and undergraduate Wine Business Strategies students Gianna Lendino, wine reservationist at Gundlach Bundschu Winery, and Haddie Daner. Winners were selected based on accomplishments in the areas of academics, leadership, and community service. WBI scholarships are intended to offset tuition and educational expenses for students earning a wine business degree at SSU.
A just future starts with creating opportunities that empower people and thus elevate communities. We are pleased to support this diverse and visionary group of professionals and look forward to their impact in the wine business and beyond,” said Jean-Francois Coget, dean of the School of Business and Economics. “Our hope is that their success inspires people from all communities to join the wine business.
We are at a pivotal moment in our society. As future leaders, I feel it is our responsibility to promote inclusion, amplify equal opportunity, and seek innovation to cement the wine industry’s long-lasting future,” said Forno. “The Southern Wine and Spirits Scholarship is making a difference to my career and empowers me to fulfill my goal of becoming part of a winery executive team. After many years in winemaking, the Wine Executive MBA has expanded my acumen in finance, marketing, human resources, and leadership, focusing specifically on the wine industry.
It is an honor to be recognized and receive support from the Debbie Lewis Women in Wine Scholarship Fund. I am inspired by Debbie’s passion for wine, commitment to lifelong learning, and dedication to mastery and quality,” said Vartain. “As a female leader, I will look to the example that Debbie set when championing meaningful work, promoting diversity and inclusion, and mentoring other professionals.
As a current student in the Global Wine Executive MBA program at SSU, I was extremely honored and grateful to receive the 2020 Southern Wine and Spirits Scholarship award. This award was especially uplifting during such challenging times as we are all experiencing this year,” said Silva.
The complete list of scholarships awarded this year includes the Debbie Lewis Women in Wine Graduate Scholarship, Donn P. Reisen Graduate Scholarship, La Tosh Wine Undergraduate Scholarship, Liz Thach Wine Industry Scholarship, Rabo AgriFinance Undergraduate Wine Business Scholarship, Southern Wine and Spirits Wine Business Scholarship, and the Vintage Wine Estates Women in Wine Scholarship. “We want to thank all of the families and firms who have funded these scholarships, making a difference in the lives of our students,” said Ray Johnson, executive director of the Wine Business Institute.
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About the Wine Business Institute
The Wine Business Institute serves as an intellectual and industry hub for faculty, students, and the business community. Founded in 1996 as a partnership between the wine industry and the School of Business and Economics at Sonoma State University, the WBI provides cutting-edge research that informs industry best practices and program curriculum. The WBI offers online and in-person wine-focused degree and industry certifications. For more information about our degree and certificate programs or our wine business research, please contact us at, or visit