Wine Rows

Online Certificate in Wine Business Management
Curriculum & Fees

Students in the online Certificate in Wine Business Management complete a total of four courses: Foundation, Intermediate and two Advanced courses of their preference.  Each level builds upon the last and is designed to challenge participants while creating a superior understanding of wine business operations. 

Foundation Level

4 weeksFall 9/6 - 10/4, 2018    Winter 1/24 - 2/21, 2019   Spring  4/18 - 5/16, 2019 
Prerequisites: None
Fee: $795/$695

Foundation: Introduction to Wine Business
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.

Learning Objectives -- Upon completion of this course, students will:

  1. 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)
  2. Understand how going to market with wine compares and contrasts with other consumer packaged goods.
  3. Understand the key decision points, interrelatedness and costs that go into growing, producing, marketing, distributing and selling a wine product.
  4. 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.
  5. Understand the financial resources and time periods necessary to establish a wine product.

Intermediate Level

8 weeksFall  10/15 - 12/10, 2018    Spring 2/28 - 4/25, 2019   Summer 5/30- 7/25, 2019 
Prerequisites: Successful completion of Foundation Course
Fee: $1100/$995

Intermediate: A Survey of the Key Drivers in a Wine Business

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.

Learning Objectives -- Upon completion of this course, students will:

1.     Understand business issues associated with viticulture, production, marketing, distribution and points of sale. 2.     Evaluate alternative approaches associated with those issues.

3.     Calculate costs across the component areas. 4.     Evaluate the contribution of the component areas to the value of a wine product. 5.     Expand the understanding of distribution and regulatory issues to include the international wine market. 6.     Assess the internal environment, identifying the strengths and weaknesses in a wine business. 7.     Assess the external environment, identifying the opportunities and threats to a wine business. 8.     Evaluate a SWOT analysis and draft a plan for going to market with a new wine business product. 9.     Plan for and consider future wine markets and alternative channels of wine commerce.


Advanced Level
Participants select two Advanced courses of their preference.


Direct to Consumer Marketing & eCommerce for the Wine Industry

8 weeks:  1/15 - 3/12, 2019
Prerequisites: Successful completion of Foundation and Intermediate Courses
Fee: $1100/$995

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.

At the conclusion of this course, participants will be able to:

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


Wine Production and Operations from a Business Perspective
8 weeks: 5/9 - 7/4, 2019
Prerequisites: Successful completion of Foundation and Intermediate Courses
Fee: $1100/$995

This level provides an in-depth review of the business issues associated with wine production and operations. This level emphasizes the 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.


At the conclusion of this level, the participant will be able to:

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

Strategic Wine Marketing
8 weeks:  August 2019 (TBA)
Prerequisites: Successful completion of Foundation and Intermediate Courses
Fee: $1100/$995

This level provides an introduction to wine marketing terminology and concepts, including the steps in brand creation, packaging decisions, integrated communication strategy, navigating the three tier distribution channels, and direct to consumer sales. Topics of tasting room management, wine tourism, importing, and exporting wine are also presented. The culminating project is the creation of a marketing and sales plan for the launch of a new wine business.


At the conclusion of this level participants will be able to:

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

Apply here

For more information, please contact:
Wine Business Institute
Phone: 707-664-3235
Email: winebiz@sonoma.edu

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