Chris Read, Class of 2004

As Trade Hospitality Manager, Chris Read oversees a large portfolio of E&J Gallo's California North Coast and Central Coast wine brands, including Louis M. Martini Winery, William Hill Estate Winery, MacMurray Estate Vineyards, J Vineyards & Winery, Frei Brothers Reserve, Talbott Vineyards, Edna Valley Vineyard, and Bridlewood Winery. Chris' position provides him opportunity to work with a diverse constituency, including media, distributors, and wine buyers. His team is responsible for educating, training, and holding wine tastings for consumers. 

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Chris' passion and vision for a career in the wine industry began after a wine study tour to Chilean wine regions with Wine Business professors Dr. Liz Thach, MW, Distinguished Professor of Wine, and Dr. Janeen Olsen, Professor of Marketing and Wine Business. Chris graduated from SSU with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and concentration in Marketing in 2004. 

"The wine study tour was a turning point in my college career. Once I finished the program, I knew that I wanted to further my education in wine business, and subsequently enrolled in the Wine Business Institute's online Certificate in Wine Business Management," Chris Read said, noting that Drs. Olsen and Thach were the most influential professors for him as a student. 

"Their passion for wine was contagious and it was very hard not to get excited about the projects that we participated in and presented in class," said Chris.

"From the start of the trip in Chile, I could tell that Chris was very passionate and excited to learn about South American wine. Chris' hard work and dedication throughout his education at Sonoma State University and his career path has led him to be successful in the wine industry," Dr. Janeen Olsen, Professor of Marketing and Wine Business at Sonoma State University said. 

Chris' experience in Chile and being familiar with South American wine gave him an advantage when hired by Wine Warehouse, a wine and spirits distributor. From there, the connections he made opened the door to an opportunity at E&J Gallo. E&J Gallo initially hired Chris as Tasting Room Lead at Louis M. Martini Winery in St. Helena, California. He began working his way up the Gallo corporate ladder and previously served as the Supervisor of the Gallo Wine Shop and Senior Wine Ambassador. 

Chris chose Sonoma State University because of its prime location in the middle of wine country. The small class sizes at SSU were important to him so he could create relationships with his professors and not feel lost in the course work. 

Chris' advice to current Wine Business students at Sonoma State University is to "go out there and get your hands dirty. Pursue a wine based internship, or internship related to your field, during the summer months to get a good idea of what you are most interested in as you navigate your career." 

For more information about wine business programs, visit the Wine Business Institute.

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