Wine Business Management Online Certificate


Created by professionals for professionals.


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Program Overview

An advanced understanding of wine business is essential to success in an evolving industry and an ever-changing marketplace. This important industry certification facilitates professional growth through advanced knowledge of wine business marketing, operations, and finance. 

The Certificate in Wine Business Management is developed and taught by wine business veterans and industry experts. Whether you're a current wine industry professional, a winemaker or viticulturist, or someone seeking entry to the wine industry, this program provides the business acumen necessary to grow your career. 

This comprehensive professional business certificate address key industry areas, including:

  • Wine commerce and trade
  • Wine marketing and sales
  • eCommerce 
  • Business issues associated with viticulture and winemaking
  • Traditional business functions of strategy in building a wine business
  • Finance, accounting, and management applied to the wine industry
  • Regulatory issues concerning wine
  • Optional certification with the successful completion of all three levels

 Certificate Structure, Fees & Schedule

Submit your application for the Spring/Summer 2022 cohort by March  28, 2022.

  • Two Required Courses, Foundation & Intermediate Level
    • Offered three times per year in Spring, Summer, & Fall
    • Foundation: Introduction to Wine Business (four-weeks)
    • Intermediate: Survey of Key Drivers in Wine Business (eight-weeks)
  • 16 weeks of Elective Courses
    • Two Advanced Level (eight-weeks each) or
    • One Advanced Level (eight-weeks) & two Master Courses (four-weeks each)
    • Each Course is offered 1x per year
  • All courses delivered online
  • One-hour weekly live webinars
  • Recorded Webinars
  • Non Credit Courses

Elective Courses

Students may choose to take two Advanced courses after completing and passing the Foundation & Intermediate level courses. Advanced courses are offered in Spring, Summer, and Fall. Each course is only offered 1x per year. Courses are $1,100 each. See available courses below. 
  • Advanced Direct to Consumer & eCommerce for Wine Business (Winter/Spring)
  • Advanced Wine Sales Management (Spring)
  • Advanced Production & Operations for Wine Business (Summer)
  • Advanced Strategic Wine Marketing (Summer/Fall)
  • Advanced Financial Management & Strategy (Summer)

Curriculum Requirements

Students in the online Certificate in Wine Business Management complete 28 weeks of courses. Two required Courses Foundation (four weeks), Intermediate (eight weeks) and 16 weeks of Elective courses. Electives can consist of either two Advanced courses (eight weeks each) or one Advanced course and two Master Courses (four weeks each). There is no time limit to complete the certificate program. Average time to complete is 12 months. 

How To Register

All applicants must apply through this web page. Required items for a complete application are answers to all required questions on the application plus a current resume/CV. All accepted students will receive an email from the program coordinator with the registration links for the Foundation level course. Once you advance to the next levels by passing each course with a C or better, you will receive emails with registration links to another email with your eligible courses. 

Estimated Cost

The cost of this program ranges from $3,995 to $4,485. Payment is made at the time of registration, so your payments will be spread out over the number of courses you take. 

Considering a Wine MBA

Professionals interested in pursuing the accredited Sonoma Wine MBA or the Sonoma Executive Wine MBA can waive the two-year industry experience admission requirement with successful completion of the Foundation and Intermediate course levels. 

*Fees listed are for the current academic year and are subject to change without notice.

*Students may be eligible for Intermediate and Advanced placement with prior wine industry experience. Please email program coordinator to inquire about eligibility. 

Course Learning Objectives

Introduction to Wine Business (Foundation)

This four-week course provides an overview of wine business. Students will develop an appreciation of the realities of the wine business as a business and come to understand the steps required for getting from the vineyard and into the glass of the consumer.

LO1: Understand the components of a wine business and the viewpoints of the various stakeholders in the following areas:

  • Grape growing, including costs, values, quality considerations, supply and demand, risks and opportunities
  • Production, winemaking, maturation and packaging
  • Marketing
  • Distribution, a complex and highly regulated process
  • Domestic sales, selling wine in retail stores (off-premise), restaurants and bars (on premise), online and direct to consumer (through tasting rooms, events, and wine clubs)
LO2: Understand how going to market with wine compares and contrasts with other consumer packaged goods.
LO3: Understand the key decision points, interrelatedness, and costs that go into growing, producing, marketing, distributing and selling a wine product.
LO4: Outline how quality and value is determined at each step in the process of grape growing, production, marketing, distribution, domestic and export sales and final point of sale.
LO5: Understand the financial resources and time periods necessary to establish a wine product.


A Survey of the Key Drivers in a Wine Business (Intermediate)

Building on the concepts developed in the Introduction to Wine Business, this eight-week course expands project-based learning focused on the business of making and selling wine. The class surveys key drivers of a wine business and the necessary decisions required when a wine business goes to market, to provide a deeper understanding of the entire value chain.

The subjects of marketing, distributing and selling are expanded to include managing a primary brand as well as a portfolio of products, including options for negociant brands.

LO1: Understand business issues associated with viticulture, production, marketing, distribution and  points of sale.
LO2: Evaluate alternative approaches associated with those issues.
LO3: Calculate costs across the component areas.​
LO4: Evaluate the contribution of the component areas to the value of a wine product.​
LO5: Expand the understanding of distribution and regulatory issues to include the international wine market.​
LO6: Assess the internal environment, identifying the strengths and weaknesses in a wine business.​
LO7: Assess the external environment, identifying the opportunities and threats to a wine business.​
LO8: Evaluate a SWOT analysis and draft a plan for going to market with a new wine business product.​
LO9: Plan for and consider future wine markets and alternative channels of wine commerce.​


Direct to Consumer Marketing & eCommerce for the Wine Industry (Advanced)

Prerequisites: Successful completion of Foundation and Intermediate Courses

This course provides an in-depth study of Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) marketing and eCommerce, including digital marketing, from a wine industry perspective.  Participants will explore opportunities and challenges associated with eCommerce and DTC wine sales, and the methodology required to promote customer discovery, engagement, acquisition and loyalty.  This course begins with a history and overview of compliance and the development of the DTC channel, the transformation of software platforms and digital technology over the past 15 years, and key components of web design and development.  It then focuses on best practices in web, mobile, email, social media and all digital marketing channels to drive wine sales, tasting room visitation, event ticket sales, and wine club member acquisition and retention.

LO1: Explain how digital marketing and eCommerce play an integral role as part of a winery's overall omni-channel retailing strategy.
LO2: Make recommendations for the design and development of an eCommerce winery website and mobile platforms that utilize best practices from outside the wine industry.​
LO3: Recommend strategies for building customer engagement, retention, and loyalty for existing customers and prospects through eCommerce and digital marketing.​
LO4: Develop a DTC digital marketing strategy and budget to integrate into a winery's overall marketing plan.​
LO5: Effectively communicate with customers through traditional and new digital channels including web, email, mobile and social media marketing.​
LO6: Evaluate and optimize the consumer's mobile experience in all aspects of eCommerce and the DTC channel.​


Wine Sales Management (3-Tier)

This 8-week online course provides an advanced education of sales and management training for suppliers and distributors in the wine and alcohol beverage industry.  This course provides sales and management training for suppliers and distributors in the wine and alcohol beverage industry. Through exploration of route-to-market strategies for alcoholic beverages, students gain client-facing sales and territory management skills. Building on this knowledge, students complete weekly webinars and submit activities with virtual coaching and feedback from the instructor.

Upon successful completion of the course students will be able to:

LO1: Identify opportunities by sales channel and account type
LO2: Understand distributor management techniques and how to employ them
LO3: Understand account-level marketing and merchandising concepts.
LO4: Tailor product sales concepts for clients/buyers.
LO5: Compose and communicate pricing calculations
LO6: Deliver professional presentation involving analytics
LO7: Identify inefficiencies and develop improved solutions.

Wine Production and Operations from a Business Perspective (Advanced)

Prerequisites: Successful completion of Foundation and Intermediate Courses

This course provides an in-depth review of the business issues associated with wine production and operations. This level emphasizes basic concepts of operations, purchasing, logistics, and supply chain management as they apply to the wine industry. More specific topics include value analysis, total quality management, make/buy decisions, negotiation, and supplier development.

LO1: Explain the key business issues in the production and operation of a winery.
LO2: Identify supply chain management considerations for effective operations.
LO3: Describe the planning process from wine forecasting and product development through distribution.
LO4: Calculate total cost analysis and its role in supply procurement.
LO5: Assess the appropriateness of the capital equipment necessary to operate a winery.
LO6: Identify how quality is achieved in the production of wine.


Strategic Wine Marketing (Advanced)

Prerequisites: Successful completion of Foundation and Intermediate Courses

This course presents concepts related to the marketing planning process for a wine business. It is organized around the steps involved in developing a marketing plan for a wine business. Topics to be addressed include an introduction to wine marketing concepts, market segmentation and targeting, the steps in brand creation, marketing implications of packaging decisions, integrated communication strategy, direct to consumer sales, and distribution strategy. The culminating project is the creation of a marketing and sales plan for the launch of a new wine business.

LO1: Describe important wine consumer segments.
LO2: Create a wine brand to appeal to a chosen target market.
LO3: Understand the marketing implications of package design.
LO4: Coordinate promotional elements of advertising, public relations, and special events.
LO5: Understand the complexities of wine distribution at the distributor and retail levels.
LO6: Create a distribution and sales strategy utilizing distributors and/or direct to consumer methods.
LO7: Describe key aspects of tasting room management.
LO8: Integrate wine marketing into a broader wine tourism context.
LO9: Describe the steps to importing and exporting wine.
LO10: Create a draft marketing and sales plan.


Financial Management & Strategy for Wine Businesses (Advanced)

Prerequisites: Successful completion of Foundation and Intermediate courses.

This eight-week course provides a concise overview and analysis of the factors critical to financial success for businesses in the wine industry.  Students will learn about different corporate and financial structures and strategies; how to deal with business details, like compliance and insurance; and how to use financial planning and analysis to ensure a business’s financial survival and drive growth

LO1: Sharpen hard skill competencies, including data retrieval and analysis and the creation of a financial plan for a business in the wine industry.
LO2: Explain the distinct types of financial and business structures in the wine business.
LO3: Analyze market entry and exit timing and strategies.
LO4: Value a wine business and understand the mergers and acquisitions process.
LO5: Understand the various tax pressures and requirements that effect the wine industry

LO6: Grasp the need to remain compliant in today’s regulatory environment and the challenges associated with that.

LO7: Select an appropriate pricing strategy for products and analyze sales and marketing efforts.
LO8: Perform basic financial planning and analysis tasks for wine businesses.

   LO9: Draw on various materials provided in this course to perform the tasks their careers demand.

Questions? Please take a look at the FAQs or contact us.

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Registration is done in partnership with the School of Extended and International Education