Students and Local Winemakers Find Fertile Ground in Marketing Project

Brand Management Study Opens Doors and Perspective for both Students and Managers
August 24, 2015

Rohnert Park, CA - The School of Business and Economics (SBE) at Sonoma State University (SSU) announced that a group of students in the Brand Marketing course of the Executive Wine MBA program were invited to present their final project findings to tasting room managers at Duckhorn Vineyards, a Napa Valley wine producer. The culminating project was designed to evaluate brand "touch points", or the various points at which the public interfaces with the winery - before, during, and after a transaction. Based on the group's findings, company officials requested that the students return to provide additional context and present their results directly to Duckhorn Vineyard team members.
"Continuous improvement is a core part of our operational philosophy, so we value any opportunity to receive constructive feedback from bright, thoughtful people who can help us refine our customer experience," Carol Reber, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing & Business Development Officer for Duckhorn Vineyards said. "The findings were enlightening and a great reminder of how careful you have to be when trying to solve operations problems. The project allowed students to see and understand the outcomes and often consequences of tackling operational challenges. Solving one challenge often creates another."
The student team, which consisted of Brian Allard, Steven Arnwine, and Mindy Worth, was tasked with evaluating whether the winery's various touch points are in alignment with the company's visual identity and communications, its position within the marketplace, and its reputation among consumers. Students assessed consumer reviews, web presence, signage, parking, landscaping, architecture, artwork, furniture, music, sound, and smell, among other considerations. 
Student Mindy Worth used the experience to inform the upcoming launch of her own wine label, Boucher Wines. She and her husband have produced red and white wines for the past two years and are now completing the regulatory compliance process.
"This was an amazing class for someone like me who is starting a new wine label. It connected me with people who are doing this successfully and opened my eyes to how to create a brand, which is really about customer experience," Mindy Worth said. "The project also demonstrated how important a network is for help and insight. I respect that the Duckhorn team took time to review our assessment. It shows they really care about the brand and company they work for.
For more information regarding the project, course curriculum, and the Executive Wine MBA program at Sonoma State University, or other advanced degree programs in the School of Business and Economics, please contact (707) 664-3501, or visit 
# # #
About the School of Business and Economics
Sonoma State University School of Business and Economics' vision is to be the educational nucleus of a thriving North Bay economy. Its mission is to create extraordinary learning experiences for our students and to advance best business practices in the North Bay and beyond. With undergraduate, graduate, and executive programs serving over 1500 students each year and concentrations in Accounting, Finance, Management, Marketing, Wine Business, and Economics, the School offers the most in-demand degree on the Sonoma State campus. The School of Business and Economics is accredited by AACSB (the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business), making it one of 15% of all business schools in the world to meet these standards of excellence. For more information, visit