Wine Business Institute Launches History-Making Video Series on Leadership

Demeter Group to Provide $125,000 Gift as Founding Sponsor
November 9, 2016

Rohnert Park, California - The Wine Business Institute (WBI) at Sonoma State University (SSU) today announced the launch of a video interview series as part of its educational curriculum based on real-world case studies in leadership. The Business of Wine video series is under development by the Emmy Award-winning team of Dennis Scholl and Marlon Johnson, to provide a multifaceted look at top business leaders in the global wine industry in the areas of Leadership, Innovation, Sales and Marketing, Mergers and Acquisitions, Finance, Legal, Tax and Accounting, and Media and Communications. Demeter Group, the San Francisco investment bank to premium Wine & Spirits companies, is providing a $125,000 gift as Founding Sponsor of the project.  

The individual 30-minute interviews and key learning vignettes will be edited for faculty to integrate into their teaching curriculum for the classroom, online learning, and broadcast in the Wine Spectator Learning Center, the new home of the Wine Business Institute set to open in 2018. The $9.15 million project was financed in part by an initial $3 million contribution from the Wine Spectator Scholarship Foundation. 
"As the educational nucleus of the global wine industry, it's our privilege to showcase the passion and experience of wine's greatest leaders for the benefit of its next generation. This series gets beyond the romance of farming and winemaking to show how and why leaders make their decisions, what key challenges they face and overcome, and the skills needed to sustain their success in an evolving industry," Dr. William S. Silver, Dean of the School of Business and Economics said. 
The first seven interviews concluded with Andy Beckstoffer of Beckstoffer Vineyards, Bill Phelps of Joseph Phelps Vineyards, Joel and Sarah Gott of Joel Gott Wines, Mike Grgich of Grgich Hills Estate, Mike Benziger of Benziger Family Winery, Frank Farella of Farella Braun + Martel, and Mark Couchman of Silverado Winegrowers. Confirmed interviews in 2017 include Bill Newlands of Constellation Brands, John Dyson of Williams Selyem, Dario Sattui of V. Sattui Winery, Bill Hatcher of A to Z Wineworks, Darioush Khaledi of Darioush Winery, and Charles Smith of K Vintners, among others. 
Each interview delves into the subject's entry into the world of wine, their achievements, and setbacks. Specific discussion will be based around the difficulty of transitioning a family business to the next generation, the complexity of wine transactions, how wine is successfully marketed to today's consumer, and factors that separate great brands from good brands. Additional discussion will include the role of technology in the selling and marketing of wine, how innovation is developed within the industry, and the constantly evolving relationships among vineyard, facility, and brand.  
The Wine Business Institute is an education and research institute of the School of Business and Economics (SBE). SSU is the first institution of higher learning in the U.S. to offer professional certificates and degrees specializing in the business of wine. It is the first school of business in the world to offer an executive-level wine business degree.
The Business of Wine video series was unveiled on October 27 at an invitation-only dinner for the subject interviewees, as well as 100 CEOs of leading U.S. wine companies. For more information regarding the Business of Wine video series, the Wine Spectator Learning Center project, or for information regarding wine business education programs and degrees, please contact 707-664-3235 or, or visit