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Sonoma State University Announces French Language Certificate for Wine Business - 1st in the US

May 20, 2015 9:58 AM

Sonoma State University Announces
French Language Certificate for Wine Business - 1st in the US

Rohnert Park, CA - This past week the Faculty Senate of Sonoma State University (SSU) approved a French Language Certificate for Wine Business, the first of its type in the US. Full-time students pursuing a B.S. degree in Wine Business can now add a French language proficiency certificate to their degree at either the beginner, intermediate, or advanced level.

The new certificate is a collaboration between the French and Wine Business Faculty. "We realized," explained Dr. Suzanne Toczyski, Professor of French, "that more of the students in our classes are now studying both French and Wine Business, and since France is perceived to be the one of the greatest wine countries in the world, there seemed to be a natural synergy."

Dr. Liz Thach, Professor of Wine Business, recalled a situation during an international class trip to France last May when Brielle Charmasson, a student studying both Wine Business and French, saved the day.  "We were visiting a small winery in Burgundy and the owner didn't speak English. Though we had a French tour guide for translation, he was challenged by the winemaking terms. Then Brielle volunteered to help with the translation. The owner was so impressed he offered her a job when she finished her degree."

When Dr. Toczyski heard the story, she reached out to Dr. Thach, and together they began to design the certificate program with input from many other faculty. The new certification will be launched in the Fall 2015 semester. Students who enroll in the program will choose the level of proficiency they plan to attain. In French classes at all levels, students will incorporate elements of French wine culture into their course projects. Students in the Wine Business program already study French wine regions, varietals and winemaking terms.  In addition they are required to complete an internship, so, if possible, students in the French Language Certificate for Wine Business program will be paired with local wineries owned and operated by French winemakers, or will be encouraged to seek a summer internship with a winery in one of the many wine-producing regions of France.

Brielle is quite excited about the new option. "I love French," she said, "but trying to complete two majors or even add a minor, increases the amount of time and money for college. This certification lets me pursue my love for the French language and wine business in an efficient manner. It will also look good on my resume, and hopefully will give me an edge up when applying for wine jobs."
Ray Johnson, Director of the Wine Business Institute, is very pleased with the new certificate. "We hope to be able to offer a similar certificate for other languages in the future," he said.


For more information about the French Language Certificate for Wine Business please contact

About Sonoma State University:
Sonoma State University is located in California's premier wine country, one hour north of San Francisco, and is home to over 9,000 students. With a tradition of promoting intellectual and personal growth, leadership opportunities and technological proficiency, SSU offers its students a friendly, safe and informal atmosphere on a campus that has been ranked as one of the most beautiful in the nation.

About Sonoma State University's Wine Business Institute:
Sonoma State University's Wine Business Institute is located in the heart of California wine country and was created through a public-private partnership between the university and the wine industry. Founded in 1996, it is the first program in the United States to offer undergraduate and graduate degrees focused exclusively on the business aspects of the wine industry. In addition to its academic programs the Wine Business Institute offers an array of seminars and certificates. Its faculty members are published experts, active researchers, and requested presenters on pressing industry topics.  The Wine Business Institute operates within Sonoma State's School of Business and Economics, a fully accredited AACSB institution.  Learn more at

Contact SBE
Contact SSU
Sonoma State University School of Business and Economics. Reach.
1801 East Cotati Avenue, Rohnert Park, CA, 94928 • 707-664-2377 26981